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Check out how to protect yourself

An ordinary respirator does not work for smog
Jul 2, 2021 / Michal Jirák

If you want to protect the airways against smog or when painting or cleaning waste, an ordinary respirator or filtration half mask is not sufficient protection. That only protects against dust particles. For protection against chemical substances you need a higher level of protection.

How to choose the right mask

The name respirator or mask is often used, but the exact name is filtration half mask. They are divided into categories according to the amount of dust particles they catch. It is determined by multiples of the highest permitted concentrations of NPK-K substances in the air and the permissible exposure limits for PEL substances in the air. These limits are set by government regulation.

Filter class The maximum multiple of NPK-P/PEL Protects against
FFP1 4x low concentration of dust/aerosol
FFP2 12x medium concentrations of dust / mist
FFP3 50x high concentration of dust/aerosol

 

The most common damage that may incur if you expose your airway to dust particles is emphysema. This causes a decrease in the speed of oxygenation of the blood and you feel a lack of oxygen at the slightest exertion. Any problem with the airways begins with coughing, so do not underestimate anything.

If you also want to protect yourself against gases (be careful - not toxic ones) with an unpleasant odour, get a mask with active carbon. Active carbon filters gases and frees you from unpleasant odours from the environment. The proof of its functionality is, for example, its use in the capture of volatile vapours from the gasoline in cars or fume hoods. For example, the Refil 641 FFP2 respirator is equipped with active carbon.

Find out which activities you should use which category for and when active carbon is useful.

FFP1 FFP2 FFP3
plastering grinding, cutting, drilling, etc.: concrete, stone, metal, soft wood, glass working with hard wood
handling of cement welding of steel, zinc (active carbon is useful against the smoke generated by the welding) welding of stainless steel, aluminium
coal mining, stone spraying against pests (active carbon) handling asbestos and lead
crop production contact with allergens - pollen, animal fur, dust mites, mould contact with viruses
work in the textile industry contact with bacteria and smog  

 

Note - this is only a recommendation. What type of protection you choose is up to you. Carefully decide what level of protection is required by your job, for example, according to the safety data sheet, which must contain every hazardous substance and mixture. In addition, it is also always necessary to properly read the instructions for the use of protective components to avoid damage to the airways. We already wrote earlier about the importance of the instructions for use and the safety data sheets.

Do you need a higher level of protection?

Each respirator is designated either R - reusable or NR - non reusable. Half masks designated NR should be thrown away after one use, because they cannot be disinfected, and thus cannot function properly during the next use. Masks marked R can be used several times - always read the instructions for use.

So far, we have spoken about half masks that are effective against dust particles. However, if you come into contact with chemical substances, such as when degreasing surfaces or chemical cleaning, you must use a higher level of protection. You need a half mask with a suitable filter.

You will need it in the event that you want to protect against smog. A respirator is sufficient protection when the Hydrometeorological Institute announces increased dust in the air. In the case of elevated levels of pollutants - mainly SO2, which forms smog, you need a half mask with filters. However, it is unrealistic for everyone to wear a respirator in areas affected by smog. During periods of smog we recommend limiting going out or going somewhere in nature, since a common respirator is not enough.

Half mask with Spirotek HM8500 filters

If you want to protect your lungs from the inhalation of harmful substances, you need a half mask with suitable filters. And if a substance is so aggressive that it can also get into the body through the ocular mucosa, use a full face mask for 100% protection.

Spirotek FM9500 full face mask

In case there is no oxygen supply in the room, filters will not help either. If you do not have a supply of fresh air, you need a self-contained breathing apparatus that firefighters, for example, use.

Scott Contour 300 self-contained breathing apparatus

Everything is useless, if the mask does not fit

A proper mask, an appropriate filter and active carbon will never work correctly if your mask does not rest properly on the face. First, you must choose the right size S, M or L. It is necessary to have a clean-shaven face during use so the mask fits perfectly. If you have long hair, tie it back and remove all jewellery. To make sure that the mask will always fit perfectly, choose a shapeable mask.

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