Choosing the Correct Welding Respirator
In order to select the proper welding respirator for maximum protection against particulates, determine the following conditions:
- The concentration and identity of particles in the air.
- The OSHA or MSHA, or NIOSHA permissible exposure limit (PEL).
- Hazard ration (HR) - the airborne particulate concentration divided by the exposure limit.
- The Assigned Protection Factor (APF) for the class of respirators, which should not be larger than the HR.
- Any service life information available for cartridges or canisters.
- Once an assessment of the environment has been completed, you can select the right respirator for welding.
Air-Purifying respirators - These welding respirators can either be a filtering facepiece, full-face or half masks with mechanical or chemical cartridges to filter dust, mists, fumes, vapors or gases and are available in three types.
- Filtering Facepiece respirator - these are disposable and are for one-time-use only. They filter out particulate matter only.
- Disposable air-purifying respirators - can be used one time or when the cartridge expires. Cartridges are permanently attached and have no replacement parts.
- Reusable air-purifying respirators - use both replaceable cartridges and parts.
- Disposable/reusable air purifying respirators - have few or no replacement parts besides cartridges.
Powered Air-Purifying Respirators (PAPR) - these respirators use a blower to pass the contaminated air through a filter, purify it, the deliver it to a mask or hood. PAPR's filter mists, dust, fumes, vapors and gases, similar to ordinary welding respirators. PAPR's cannot be used in oxygen-deficient atmospheres, which can result when another gas displaces the oxygen or consumption of oxygen by a chemical reaction occurs. Oxygen levels that are below 19.5% will require a source of supplied air or supplied air respirator protection. Levels below 16% are considered life threatening.
Other features are available to help customize your needs for the right respirator for welding. Nose cups are available and reduce lens fogging and lens covers protect the lens from paint, minor chemical splashes and scratches.
Toxic Fumes and Gases
Studies show that full-time welders are at increased risk of bronchitis, airway irritation, lung function changes, and lung cancer. Recent studies suggest a link between welding fum and nerve disorders. Respiratory hazards in welding can be divided into two main categories:
The primary airborne contaminant found in arc welding is welding fume. Welding fume is a complex mixture of very small particles of metal oxides. The specific components depend on the composition of the welding electrode (stick, wire or filler rod), base metal, surface coatings and the type of shielding gas or flux. Wear a particulate or half face welding respirators for protection.
Gases and Vapors
When electrode coatings, fluxes, shielding gases and surface coatings are burned or exposed to ultraviolet arc rays, they can generate potentially harmful gases, such as carbon monoxide, ozone, nitrogen oxides, gaseous fluoride and phosgene. Whenever feasible, local and area ventilation systems should be used to remove harmful fumes and gases. However, in many cases engineering controls alone cannot reduce exposure levels adequately. In these situations, it may be appropriate to use respirators. For most welding applications, an array of welding respirator options exist that offer specific benefits and limitations.
Looking for other protective welding gear? We have the best selection of welding apparel, welding gloves, welding safety glasses, welding earmuffs and welding helmets for your welding protection needs.