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Dust forms virtually everywhere we go. Household dust is mainly composed of skin cells, hair, clothing fibers, bacteria, dust mites, bits of dead bugs, soil, and other airborne particles that settle on surfaces. Exposure to dust can irritate the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract. Prolonged exposure to industrial and construction related particles can even lead to illness, including silicosis, coal workers' pneumoconiosis (CWP), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer, and even death.
Frequently Asked Questions About Dust Masks:
Wearing a dust mask or respirator can help protect you from the flu as well as airborne viruses, including the coronavirus that causes COVID-19; however, they don’t offer 100% protection. These masks can help block the spread of respiratory droplets containing influenza, but transmission is still possible. If you are looking for Covid-19 PPE and to protect yourself from the flu, the CDC recommends an N95 as your best option. Cloth masks don’t offer the same level of protection as the N95. N95 masks come with a NIOSH approval and are commonly used in the healthcare industry.
When donning the dust mask respirator, it should fit over your nose and mouth with the straps going either around your ears or behind your head. If you have a full-face mask, it will cover your entire face. The mask should be comfortable to wear, especially if you need to wear it for long periods. Consider finding a mask with an adjustable strap or one that wraps around your head so the strings don’t pull at your ears. Use the strap to adjust the fit. It should provide a tight seal and fit securely on your face without leaving any gaps for contaminants to get through. On some masks you can also use the nose clip to shape the top of the mask securely around your nose.
You can buy dust masks and some types of respirators at most hardware stores and pharmacies. They mostly carry disposable face masks designed to be thrown away after a few uses. Hardware stores often cater to construction professionals and those doing tasks around the house. The best dust mask for professional woodworkers is a half face respirator. Brick and mortar stores only have a certain number of products to sell. They may run out if there is a public health emergency. You will find a greater selection of dust masks online. These retailers tend to have a greater stockpile of goods to sell, so there’s less of a chance that they will run out when you need them most. Stick with reputable online stores that provide masks from trusted dust mask brands.
You can reuse some dust masks if you are only using them for a few minutes or hours at a time. However, disposable face masks need to be replaced often. The material may get wet or stained, limiting its ability to block particles and other contaminants. The straps will also become loose over time. If the mask doesn’t seal over the face, replace it immediately.
If you are working near or around asbestos, you need to wear either a full-face or half-face respirator with proper P100 rated filters and cartridges. Common dust masks are not sufficient in protecting against asbestos, which can be found in many consumer and industrial products.
Contact the professionals at PK Safety for more information about using dust masks.