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Buying The Right Masks And Respirators

– Buying the correct mask or respirator can be a bit of a challenge, especially when it comes to understanding all the terms that come along with these types of products. By the end of this video, you'll have a solid understanding of the terms and types so that you can be confident in purchasing what's right for you. Well, as you can see, there are a lot of different styles of masks out there, we're gonna cover each one of these throughout today's video. But the first thing we need to do talk about is the difference between a dust mask and a respirator. Dust mask generally only have one strap and don't always fit tightly around the mouth and nose. These masks are designed to stop aerosols which are both solid and liquid particles from coming out of the wearer's mouth. However, they provide little to no protection from the air that you're breathing in. The other big difference between a mask and a respirator is that the mask is not NIOSH approved. NIOSH stands for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and I'll get into what they do later on. Bottom line, most professionals think that these dust masks are useless and I have to agree. A respirator on the other hand is certified by NIOSH and generally has two straps, which allows the mask to fit snugly around the user's face. When worn correctly, this style of respirator does a great job at filtering out fine particles like sawdust. However, all of these disposable mask or sometimes called paper masks do not filter out organic vapors, which are very harmful to breathe. But before we start talking about what gives some respirators the ability to filter out organic vapors, let's dive a little bit further into the rating letters and numbers that are associated with the filtering material itself. You may have noticed that respirators will have a letter and a number printed on the box around the mask itself. The letter is first and in most cases, it whether be an N or a P. N stands for non-oil, meaning that's a material that the mask is made out of breaks down in the presence of oil aerosols. Again, aerosols can be both solid and or liquid born particles. For example, oil aerosols can be oil-based paints, release agents, or some spray lubricant just to name a few. What this means is if you're working in an environment that has a lot of airborne aerosols, the N-type filter is not recommended. The P rating, which stands for oil proof can be used around oil aerosols. After the letter comes a number. In most cases, that number will be a 95 or 100. These numbers are percentages of how effective the mask material is at filtering out aerosols. N95 is 95% effective and a 100 is 99.7%. There are many different methods that manufacturers utilize in order to get the filtering material to be effective at filtering out fine particles. The two most common are weave density and static electric charge. The first one takes into account how tight the fibers of the material are woven together. The tighter they are, the more effective they are at capturing smaller particles. The second method that some manufacturers use is to place a static electric charge on the filtering material itself at the factory. This is very similar to when you're at home and you scratch your feet on the carpet and then you touch a metal object or another person and get a shock. However, the static charge on the mask does not leave the mask material like when you shock someone, but it stays and is used to help attract particles. Okay. Now that you understand the writing, letters, and numbers, it's time to quickly move on and talk about NIOSH and why they are so important. NIOSH tests and certifies the majority of the respirators on the market today. At their lab, they test particle sizes down to 0.3 microns and they test agents that can degrade the filters, like what we already talked about with oil aerosols and type and filters. They test all respirators with some sort of a salt solution or other methods to verify that the filtering material is doing its job. So far, we've only talked about disposable masks and respirators. One of which, once you wear these out, you simply throw the entire mask out. But there is another option before we get down to these, and it's this right here. In more recent years, these more flexible style dust masks have made the way into the marketplace. I have two here for us to look at. One is from our RZ mask and the other one is from BASE CAMP. These types of dust masks have a reusable outer parts and on the inside is where the filtering material gets installed. And once this wears out, you simply swap out the old inner filter for a new one. As you can see, they're both very similar and they both have a really good reputation in the DIY and professional communities. They're stylish, pretty comfortable, and do an effective job at filtering out aerosols. Keep in mind though that they are not NIOSH approved and they're still considered a dust mask, but as you can see are clearly nothing like the simple paper dust mask we first looked at. These types of masks do provide great overall protection as long as you buy the right size and make sure that they're fitting tightly. I do wanna add that the BASE CAMP mask does provide these extra ear loops that the RZ mask does not, which really helps with the overall fit and comfort of the mask. And the RZ mask provides this little extra foam on the inner filter by the nose that the BASE CAMP does not, which adds comfort and provides a better seal around your nose. Next to those filters is yet another mask before we get into the more traditional style mask, which I'll call. And this one is from Trend Tools. It's made out of a non-allergenic material including soft latex and silicone-free face seals. Similar to the RZ and BASE CAMP masks, these have replaceable filters that fit inside the mask. This design is slim and more compact than a traditional half mask respirator, which gives you more vision as you're wearing it. This mask is NIOSH approved and provides a really good seal around your face. Before we get further along, let's circle back and talk about what gives some masks the ability to filter out organic vapors. This level of filtration is only possible with respirators that have activated carbon filters or cartridges. Activated carbon can remove all types of organic vapors, which are very harmful for you to breathe. Examples of products that would have organic vapors would be paint thinners, epoxies, urethanes, and of course oil-based paints and stains. As we already talked about these paper style mask do not have activated carbon in them, nor can you get these with it. However, both the RZ and BASE CAMP mask do have activated carbon in the filter, which gives you some protection not as much as a cartridge style like this, but it may provide enough protection for you. If we move over to the Trend mask, this particular model does not have the option for adding activated carbon fil

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