At PK Safety we're here to help. There are lots of different jobs out there, and they all have their special requirements. This week we had a couple questions that hadn't come up before. A new customer asked: I am looking for a mask that will greatly assist in preventing the odor of a decaying human body. As a Justice of the Peace I am called to perform inquests on deceased persons that may have been demised for an extended period of time. What do you recommend?750
Great question! And just the kind of thing to change up our work week. This is much more interesting that How Often Do I Need to Calibrate My Gas Monitor or When Do SRLs Need to be Inspected. And it was followed in the same week with this question: I am working with a carcass and bones which smell very bad. I would like to buy some kind of mask/respirator which can absorb such bad odor so that I can work comfortably for a long time.
First of all, "decaying human body" has the definition of an organic vapor. And that's exactly what the 3M 6001 Organic Vapor Cartridges get rid of. Granted, it's probably not the 3M target hazard, but it will definitely work.
To get rid of strong smells like rotting flesh, you need activated charcoal. When air is pulled over the activated charcoal in the cartridge (or filter, which we'll describe in a bit) the vapors are caught by the charcoal. The charcoal acts like a sponge removing the offending odors before they reach the nose. But like a sponge, it has a maximum amount it's able to absorb.
Depending on the length of exposure, a disposable respirator or dust mask with a layer of activated charcoal might be sufficient. The Moldex N95 2400 mask (which comes in a box of 10) is perfect if your exposure to the decaying flesh isn't terribly long, say less than an hour. The second person who wrote in that they were working with a carcass "for a long time" will likely need the cartridges, and will want to invest in the 3M 7500 Series half-face respirator mask.
While the 3M 6000 Series mask is cheaper, the 7500 is made from silicon and is much softer and more comfortable when wearing for a long period of time. So if your interaction with the formerly alive is extensive, by all means, go with the 7500. Whether you're working with zombies, rotting carcasses, or the permanently deceased, we've got the respirator protection you need.
Photo credit: Gene Page / AMC