Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if I need a respirator?
OSHA requires the use of a respirator when fumes, particles or other hazardous substances present in ambient air reach a certain percentage (Permissable Exposure Level). Different hazards have different PELs and require different respirators. Your employer should have a Material Safety Data Sheet for every hazard that will specify what protection should be used.
What are the different types of respirators?
What do the ratings mean?
The first digit of a respirator rating is a letter that corresponds to its resistance to oil. The second and third digits are numbers that correspond to the percentage of particulates (at least 0.3 microns in diamter) that a respirator is capable of removing.Letter:
How do I know if my respirator fits me properly?
Respirator fit testing is recommended for all reuseable respirators, and is required by OSHA for all tight-fitting facepiece respirators. A comprehensive qualitative fit test is used to test the seal and fit of a respirator. Once the respirator is on, a hood is placed over the head, and a sensitivity solution (sweet or bitter) is sprayed into the hood. If the respirator fits properly, the wearer should not be able to smell or taste the solution. Workers should also test how the respirator stays on during various activities, such as turning the head from side to side, up and down and speaking. The respirator should remain sealed during all these activities.
Care and Storage
Respirators should be stored in a clean, dry place. Reusable respirators should be placed in a respirator storage bag, to prevent dust and debris from building up. After use, the face piece should be wiped clean. Alcohol wipes are recommended for use with rubber facepieces, and non-alcohol wipes are recommended for silicone respirators.