Half Mask Respirators: Protect Your Lungs From Hazardous Chemicals And More
There are a number of work environments that offer challenges for workers, but few of those challenges are more dangerous than the ones that cannot be seen. Microscopic particles permeate the air in many construction sites as well as many industrial complexes and they can be inhaled unknowingly. Once inhaled, such particles can cause untold damage to the respiratory system; some airborne particulate matter can be the cause of fatal diseases, such as asbestos and cancer, while others are simply capable of causing respiratory infections. Even minute traces of airborne matter can cause severe repercussions, but that does not mean that workers need to come to a job site in their Darth Vader costumes or full HAZMAT gear. For situations where mobility is important and investment in expensive full respirator systems an unnecessary risk, half-mask respirators might be worth exploring.
Most people are familiar with the phrase that advises that one practice choosing the right tool for the right job, and half mask respirators have the potential to be the right respirator for many different tasks. It might be reasonable to ask what separates half mask respirators from full respirators, and the answer is fairly simple: half mask respirators are strap-on devices that only cover the nose and mouth in most cases. Full respirator systems usually contain a mask with integrated goggles and may even have a portable ‘good’ air supply that can be augmented by local air that passes through complex filters.
Bulky full mask respirator systems are expensive and require extensive maintenance to keep in operational shape. Additionally, workers that use full respirator systems need special training and may not be able to work as vigorously as those using half-mask respirators (round shape respirators). This essentially makes half-mask respirators a reasonable compromise between no protection and too much protection. Not every set of needs matches up well to this particular compromise, so be sure to understand and consider any given work environment carefully before investing in half-mask respirators. It is worth observing that while few half-mask respirators come with goggles, it is certainly possible to wear a set of safety goggles while using half-mask respirators.
Despite being safety-related, there are a handful of major brands making and/or selling half-mask respirators. Major brands include Olayer, 3M, Allegro, AO Safety, Moldex, SAS, Scott, Stanley, and Survivair. There are only a tiny handful of second-tier vendors offering half-mask respirators, and this might be explained by the fact that half-mask respirators from top tier companies can cost as little as $10, though most models cost between $19 and $32. With so little room to undercut major brands and the proclivity of consumers and businesses to choose brand name safety gear, it is not surprising that few second-tier vendors compete in this particular arena.
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