Different Types of Dust Mask
Dust Masks are designed to protect the wearer against inhaling airborne particulates. Airborne particulates are solids or liquids suspended in breathable air and can be classified as dusts, mists or fume. Inhaling airborne particulates may have an inverse effect on health and, depending on the particulate inhaled, this effect may be irreversible. There are three main different type of dust masks which are governed by the European standard EN149:2001+A1:2009 (Respiratory protective devices. Filtering half masks to protect against particles. Requirements, testing, marking) – this covers FF dusts masks and their three ratings; FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3. Each different dust mask rating is a step up giving greater protection. FFP1 Dust Masks FFP1 dust masks give the minimum level of protection against non-toxic particulates however this may be perfectly acceptable depending on the airborne hazard. As they are composed of the least amount of filter material they also provide the least breathing resistance and quite often an exhalation valve is not required. FFP1 dust mask protection examples: brick dust, cellulose, cement, coal dust, gypsum, limestone, Plaster of Paris, pollen, sugar. FFP2 Dust Masks <FFP2 dust masks offer a moderate level of protection against hazardous mists and particulates and fume. Exhalation valves are more common in this rating of mask as there is greater breathing resistance. Some FFP2 dust masks have an activated charcoal layer to protect against ozone and these are often called welding dust masks. FFP2 dust mask protection examples: brake dust, cotton dust, granite dust, hay, lead dust and fume, softwood dust. FFP3 Dust Masks FFP3 dust masks provide the highest level of protection that a disposable mask can offer. A well fitting FFP3 mask will protect against fine toxic particulates including asbestos, bacteria, viruses and radioactive particles. Due to the thickness of the filter material an exhalation valve is almost always fitted. FFP3 dust mask protection examples: viruses, bacteria, radioactive dusts, asbestos. whence.bmp (334 bytes) Dust masks are not “necessary” the same way most PEP is necessary. They are an option, possibly required or recommended or preferred by your work area or supervisor. Dust masks are only marginally to be regarded as PEP, and where they are “required,” it is often due to a lack of understanding of the nature of their function. They can sometimes provide comfort against hot/cold air and nuisance (non-toxic) dusts, fumes, or mists, and in this they “protect” against discomfort. They are not respirators in the sense that this word is typically used, and they ARE NOT to be used for protection against airborne toxic particulate matter or for gases or vapors. If your work area or supervisor allows or requires the use of dust masks, study the information presented here and check the topic on the PEP training checklist in order to indicate that you have been informed of these facts.
whatnot.bpm (402 bytes) It is sometimes necessary, or felt necessary by management, that workers be provided with dust masks for use in areas where nuisance (non-hazardous) dusts and other non-toxic airborne particulates are present, or to help buffer the effects of breathing particularly warm or cold air. The respiratory protection afforded by dust masks, if any exists, cannot be quantified (fit testing is impossible; that the filter material may have excellent properties is irrelevant; the face-mask boundary is where particulates will enter). They are never to be used as protection from illness or injury.
don doff.bmp (538 bytes) Most masks fit as pictured here; an elastic band above the ears and one below. Read the manufacturer’s instructions.
limitations.bmp (266 bytes) Read the When and What sections above; they cover many of the limitations. Also be advised that the filter material will eventually become loaded with particulates and passage of filtered air will become impossible (meaning that ALL of the subsequent air you breath will be air pulled in from the imperfect seal between your face and the filter.
care etc.bpm (742 bytes) Some masks may be washed and re-used. Most are disposable or have disposable filters. Read the manufacturer’s instructions his article is about paper dust masks. For respirators worn over the nose and mouth, see N95 respirator.
A half-face dust mask
A dust mask is a flexible paper pad held over the nose and mouth by elastic or rubber straps for personal comfort against non-toxic nuisance dusts. They are not intended to provide protection from toxic airborne hazards. The European FFP1 mask, the lowest-grade mechanical filter respirator available in the jurisdiction, is also used as a dust mask.
Dust masks are used in environments with dusts encountered during construction or cleaning activities, such as dusts from drywall, brick, wood, fiberglass, silica (from ceramic or glass production), or sweeping. A dust mask can also be worn in environments with allergens such as tree and grass pollen. A dust mask is also used to prevent the wearer from inhaling dust or sand in a dust storm
dust mask is worn in the same fashion as a filtering face piece respirator or surgical mask, but it is dangerous to confuse them because they each protect against specific airborne dangers. Using the wrong mask for a job can present a significant and possibly deadly danger as many dust masks with widely varied levels of protection may look similar, and even masks that do not protect against dust at all. Misfitting masks are also a danger as they allow a material to bypass the mask entirely. A correct fit may not be as critical in masks that are intended to protect against splattering liquids or mists. Dust masks do not protect against chemicals such as vapors and mists. For this reason, it is dangerous to confuse dust masks with respirators used as paint masks.
Dust masks are a cheaper, lighter, and possibly more comfortable alternative to respirators, but do not provide certified respiratory protection, and may be more susceptible to misuse or poor fit. Dust masks and respirators usually do not contact the mouth, and therefore interfere less with speech than cloth masks that do contact the mouth.
Some dust masks include improvements such as having two straps behind the head (one upper and one lower), having a strip of aluminum on the outside across the bridge of the nose that can be bent for a custom fit, and having a strip of foam rubber on the inside across the bridge of the nose to ensure a better seal even if the aluminum on the outside does not fit.
Any mask that consistently covers the nose and mouth will reduce the transmission of contagious respiratory diseases. Snugly fitting dust masks generally provide more protection than loose cloth masks, but less protection than respirators