Dust masks, technically known as disposable filtering facepiece respirators (FFR) and casually known as “nuisance dust masks,” are essential for employees working on job sites that produce dust, chaff, and other airborne particles that can irritate the respiratory system. Unlike mechanical filter respirators or air-purifying respirators, dust masks are not designed to protect against gases, vapors, mists, or molds.
When it comes to dust masks, where does the “disposable” part come in? Do these masks need to be changed out every day? The answer depends on a number of factors. If the mask is visibly damaged or no longer fits, then clearly it should be thrown out and replaced as soon as possible. In not-so-obvious cases, the wearer should look for different signs of wear. The National institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends replacing in the following situations:
- When the mask appears soiled, especially if it’s been removed and left to sit in the work area to gather more particles.
- When the wearer notices an increased breathing resistance.
- When the mask has been worn by another worker. Don’t share masks, even if they still look clean.
- When a very dusty workplace results in high filter loading (e.g., 200 mg of material captured in the filter). Limit to 8 hours of continuous or intermittent use.
- If the dust mask has been used in biosafety and animal biosafety levels 2 and 3 laboratories. Pathogens can remain on the surface and be transferred by touch to the wearer’s hands.
When in doubt, replace your mask; your health and comfort are worth it. And with many options of our multi-pack NIOSH-certified dust masks you can afford to replace them as often as needed.
Amston dust masks can be used at home or on the job for a wide variety of projects, such as carpentry, cleaning and sweeping, landscaping, chainsawing, and grinding. The flexible nose clip customizes a safe and comfortable fit so you can stay focused on your work without distractions.
You can breathe a little easier on the job when you know you’re using the right safety equipment--and you know you’re using that equipment the right way. All of Amston’s safety products can be found here.