Ultimate Guide to Respirators

It is known that when respiratory systems confront a threat for which minimal to no effective natural defense exists, it is crucial to have a command to control exposure. Respiratory protection is vital to employees' health and productivity at the chance of exposure to airborne dangers. Common airborne pollutants in large industrial healthcare sectors are, at best, irritants and lethal in the worst-case scenario. Also, one needs to understand that if respiratory protective equipment is not worn or selected appropriately, it is ineffective and can give the user a false sense of protection.

What Are Respirators or Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE)?

Respirators of respiratory protective equipment are personal gear used to protect the person wearing them against inhalation of unsafe substances in the workplace. Respirators should only be used where adequate exposure control cannot be executed by any other means. Simply put, as a last resort on the scale of control measures.

What Are the Different Types of Respirators?

Majorly there are two types of respiratory protection:

  • Air purifying respirators
  • Atmosphere supplying respirators 

Each respirator type provides a distinct level of security based on its structure. Accordingly, choosing the correct type of respirator for the distinct exposure is important. To do that, one must identify all the respiratory troubles in your surroundings by the amount of vulnerability. Each type of respirator has an assigned protection factor (APF). It indicates the amount of protection you can expect to receive from that respirator.

  • Air purifying respirators

Filters, cartridges, or canisters are used in air purifying respirators to remove the gasses, vapor, aerosols, or a combination of pollutants from the air. Tight-fitting air-purifying respirators demand fit testing before use.

  • Atmosphere supplying respirators

The atmosphere supplies respirators with clean breathing air from a separate source. These respirators protect the workers from several types of airborne impurities, i.e., particles, gasses, vapors, and in certain cases, oxygen-deficient atmospheres. Tight-fitting atmosphere supplying respirators also require a fit test before use.

These are the two types of respirators. Have you ever referred to your respiratory mask as a dust mask? Well, a surprising number of people use the word “dust mask interchangeably with respirators, even though there is a significant difference between the two. So now let us look at the differences between a dust mask and respirators.

Differences between Face Dust Masks and Respirators

A dust mask and a respirator can look similar; they have different purposes and protection levels. To be precise, a dust mask has a single strap and the same cup shape as a disposable respirator. Yet again, a dust mask can come in the form of a loose-fitting rectangular piece of material. It has an ear loop on each side of the straps to tie behind the head. Furthermore, dust masks generally do not have any information published on them.

One of the most significant differences between a dust mask and a respirator is that the dust masks are not NIOSH- approved disposable filtering face pieces. As a result, one of the common misconceptions is that dust masks protect the wearer from hazardous exposures. But in reality, they do not protect the wearer at all. The dust masks are designed for one-way protection– capturing large particles or droplets from the wearer and preventing them from spreading in the environment. Therefore, one must understand that dust masks should be worn when there is no risk of the person being exposed to unsafe gasses, vapors, or specks of dust. These masks are ideal for non-hazardous environments and are not considered personal protective devices that can provide respiratory protection to the wearer. These masks are intended to be used in non-regulated situations, such as when pruning grass. 

Features of NIOSH-Approved Respirators

The major kinds of respirators are designed to help protect the wearer from hazardous environments and are also certified by the authority of NIOSH. It includes air purifying respirators plus supplied air respiratory devices.

Different types of tests conducted by NIOSH include certain characteristics, such as-

  1. Filter efficiency.
  2. Breathing resistance.
  3. It also checks if a disposable respirator has an exhalation valve, It is tested for leakage.

Other characteristics include the following:

  • Designed to fit nicely

NIOSH approves tight-fitting particulate respirators. The respirators should have a seal around the wearer's face. It protects the wearer's face and prevents air from leaking into the respirator, thereby protecting the worker from specific hazards. 

- The approval levels include-
  • N - No presence of oils;
  • R - Resistant to oil mists or;
  • P - Oil mist proof.

     - Have an efficiency rate of 99%, 95%, or 99.9%.
     - Require fit testing.


This was the distinction between a respirator and a dust mask; now, there are many people out there who consider and confuse a gas mask, but there is a significant difference between these two as well; let us differentiate between these two.

What's the difference between a Gas mask and a respirator?

Gas masks and respirators are all parts of a survival kit. Whether preparing or simply staying ready for small disasters, be it in civilian or military life, it is a good idea to have one of these faces masks at your disposal. But, yet again, choosing the right one for the right situation can be challenging. 

Gas masks are full-face masks. These masks protect you from moisture and dangerous gasses. On the other hand, respirators only protect you from breathing low-toxicity gasses or pollutants. If you are wondering which one out of the two would be ideal for you, and then read on to find out. 

What Should One Get? Gas Mask or a Respirator? 

Both gas masks and respirators are great choices in a bug-out bag or emergency kit. If you are stressed about keeping dust, toxicity, and other impure particles away from your lungs, then both these tools can act as the best and can offer you something or the other. Plus, you can also get respirators for sale from Best Safety Apparel.

However, there are certain differences between respirators and gas masks. Now let us look at the factors that differentiate these two.

Differences between a Gas Mask and a Respirator

  • Gas masks are not readily available as respirators are 

Finding a gas mask that has the same level as the ones used by higher-level authorities is troublesome.

  • Gas masks are more effective against toxins than respirators.

The gas masks are designed with the best materials and construction, making them ideal for the poisonous gasses and other pollutants present in the air. On the other hand, respirators are not as efficient as gas masks; yet again, they can also protect against these gasses at some level. 

  • Gas masks cover your entire face, while respirators usually cover the bottom half.

Respirators protect your breathing functions, including your mouth and nose. However, a gas mask is the best way to keep the toxins away from the eyes, ears, and sometimes your hair.

There are several differences between respirators and gas masks, but they are both great tools in your emergency supply kit. With the help of this type of equipment, you will be able to breathe through all sorts of dangerous situations with either of them.

Several affordable options are available on the market if you prefer to use a disposable safety mask to maintain proper hygiene and safety levels. To be precise, these masks are made up of 3 layers of nonwoven fabric. It is to avoid pollutants and germs from entering your breathing zone. In addition, since these masks are for one-time use, they can be affordable for almost everyone. Yet again, if you are specifically looking for respirator masks, read on.

There are several things that you should know before investing in the facemasks,

Things that you should know

  • What do they block?

These masks are appropriate for wildfire smoke, air pollution, and dust fumes.

  • Fit testing

The level of comfort should be tested before getting the appropriate kind of air purifier face mask.

  • Good for viruses and other impurities

The respiratory mask should be able to keep the wearer safe from the contaminants in the air. 

After analyzing these options, ensure that your concern is to get the best respirator that can meet the requirements and not the cheapest one because it might look like it is serving the purpose and is helping the bearer, but in an actual sense, it will be of no use. 

The reason is that the respiratory masks protect adults from impurities like wildfire smoke, air pollution, dust, and fumes from some heavy-renovation projects.

The Ultimate Use of Respiratory Face Masks to Prevent Respiratory Infections

Acute respiratory tract infections are prevalent and pose a constant threat to society. While the use of facemasks has proven to be an effective barrier to curbing the spread of diseases and preventing the wearer from harmful contaminants in the air, its use in the local community is quite uncommon, which results in doubts being cast on its effectiveness in preventing airborne infections during epidemics and for military or police officials during times of war and skirmishes. Now we will determine the factors influencing the use of respiratory facemasks as the foremost preventive health measure in the community.

While the concept of respiratory infections caused by a virus or harmful gases is not new, they are far from a thing of the past; respiratory pathogens continue to plague us to this day, from seasonal flu to catastrophic outbreaks, and from gas bombs to contaminants in the air. It is important not to overlook the fact that people in several countries died after being infected by severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and many more suffered from the subsequent H5N1 and H1N1 outbreaks. If looked at globally, lower respiratory tract infections are the third most common cause of death. Furthermore, people in the military die of infections due to the harmful chemicals and impurities present in lethal weapons, teargas bombs, and other gas bombs.

Pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical measures against respiratory infections are available. However, vaccines and antiviral medications are available on the market and are considered highly effective in eradicating respiratory infections. Yet again, the use of a respiratory facemask can act as life-saving gear for both civilians and military personnel.

Most people take gas masks for respiratory masks, yet again, there is a significant difference between them. So let us look at how these masks are different.

How Do Respirators Work?

The presence of aerosols and fine dust particles is among the most insidious health risks in the working environment, and it is because they are almost invisible to the naked eye in the air we breathe. Even more miniature and riskier are viruses and bacteria that enter our bodies unnoticed via the air we breathe and can lead to death in the worst-case scenario. Therefore, wearing a respirator is a crucial part of everyday life in several working environments. But, yet again, how exactly do respirators work? What do they protect against?

The functions of the respirators 

Respirators protect against aqueous and oily aerosols and smoke, fine dust, viruses, and bacteria. The protective function of the respirator is standardized throughout according to EN 149:2001+A1:2009 and rated by the three classes FFP1, FFP2, and FFP3.

The most life-threatening particles can be carcinogenic or radioactive. In contrast, others can damage the body's respiratory system over decades and lead to serious illness or even death in the long term. For the matter of protection against these life-threatening particles, a respiratory protection device should be a part of personal protective equipment. Now let us understand how particles are exactly filtered with a respiratory device. 

Functioning of a Respirator 

The particle filtering respirators provide complete protection against particles, vapors, and some gasses. The respirators are usually made entirely of multiple layers of filter material and might also be filled with an exhalation valve.

The various layers fulfill different purposes, from improving the look and feel of the respirator to ensuring strength, tear resistance, and natural filtration.

Breathing resistance is an important aspect of the comfort of the respirator wearer. It refers to the resistance the wearer feels when breathing in and out; the higher the resistance, the harder the wearer’s lungs have to work. Therefore, to keep the resistance of the breathing as low as possible, the material of the filter must be air-permeable on the one hand while still filtering particles on the other.

How To Clean And Maintain Your Respirator?

We all know the importance of safety and how crucial it is to maintain and clean your respirator. One must understand that regular care and maintenance of a respirator is of utmost importance if you want to get the most out of the respirator. Before diving deep into the steps one needs to follow to maintain the respirator, let us take a step back and ensure that the respirator you are wearing is in top-notch condition. Here is how you can take the best care of your full and half-face respirators.


  • Ensure that you inspect your respirator regularly 

One needs to understand that there is no point in cleaning your respirator if it is cracked or defective. Instead, inspect your respirator before each use to ensure it is in good operating condition. Look over the face piece for any cracks, tears, or dirt, and pay extra attention to the face seal.

Look at the inhalation and exhalation valves, straps, gaskets, seals, or any signs of wear, tear, or damage.

Finally, ensure that you look at the lenses of your respirator for anything that could impair your performance or vision. If there are any signs of defect or damage, the respirator will need to be changed or replaced. 

  • Cleaning your respirator

Most of the time, your respirator is the only thing between you and dangerous dust, gasses, vapors, or fumes. Unfortunately, it is easy to overlook the safety of the respirator, especially when the danger may be invisible to the naked eye. The truth is that if you do not take care of the respirator, it will not be able to take care of you. There are a few steps that you take to clean your respirators; the steps are-

  1. You will first have to remove filters, cartridges, or canisters; and dismantle hoses, valve assemblies, or other components. 
  2. After disassembling the components, wash them in warm water; you can do this by using a soft detergent or cleaner recommended by the manufacturer. You can also use a non-wired brush for this matter.
  3. Then, rinse the components in clean or running water. Repeat this step to ensure the detergent has been rinsed from the respirator parts.
  4. Hand-dry components with a clean, lint-free cloth or you can allow them to air dry.
  5. Once the components are dry, reassemble the face piece, replacing filters, cartridges, and canisters.
  6. Lastly, test the respirator for proper functioning.

Frequently Asked Questions on Respiratory Face Masks 

1. What are respiratory masks made of? 

The face piece of the respiratory mask comprises silicone, neoprene, and rubber. 

2. What are the filters of a respirator face mask made up of?

The filters of the respirator face mask are made up of nonwoven fibrous materials such as wool felt, fiberglass paper, or polypropylene.

The respirators come with various features, such as the nose clips that reduce the aspect of lens fogging with the full-face piece respirators. In addition, the lens covers of the respirators protect the lens from paint, chemical splashes, and scratches. Finally, the adjustable strap allows the wearer to adjust the face piece according to their face size.

3. Are there any cautions or limitations while using the respirator?

There are several limitations when using respirators. Each respirator is designed to protect against different kinds of hazards for which it is designed. The respirators should tend to fit into the face adequately. Plus, one needs to remember that they should be cleaned after each use and used with the right filters. 

4. Are respirators suitable to protect against very small particles like PM2.5, smoke, soot, bacteria, and viruses?

Yes, respirators are ideal for protecting very small particles like PM2.5, smoke, soot, bacteria, and viruses. All that one needs to remember is that the respirators should be used with the right filters. Then, not only will you get protection against small particles, but also you will stay safe from common flues and hazardous gasses. Well, now you must have been fascinated by the features of a respirator, right? If so, then you can also consider getting a respirator on sale for your use. 

5. Do the valves on the respirators impact their effectiveness?

The foremost purpose of the respirator's exhalation valve is to reduce breathing resistance during exhalation. Therefore, the exhalation valve does not impact the ability of the respirator to provide respiratory protection. 

It is specifically designed to allow the exhaled air to exit the respirator and then close tightly during the inhalation so that the inhaled air is not permitted to enter the respirator through the valve. 

6. Can older adults or people who have medical conditions wear a respirator?

One must understand that breathing through a respirator is tougher than regular breathing. Therefore, people with several health problems or breathing problems like asthma must consult a health care executive before wearing a respirator.

7. What should one do to become familiar with respirators and how to use them?

If you are unfamiliar with respirators, you should consider putting on the respirator in a clean area before you begin using it in contaminated areas; even if you are in the police or military; consider using it before using it on the battlefield.

8. How crucial is the fit of the respirator?

The respirators should be able to provide a tight seal around your face so that there are no chances of leakage. Ensure that you choose the right sized respirator that fits comfortably on your face. If the respirator fails to provide you with a tight seal around your face, the airborne hazards tend to enter through the gaps in the face seal.

These are the most frequently asked questions about respirators. If you wish to invest in one, then you can get respirators on sale from us. 


Respirators are vital when it comes down to the aspect of safety. Be it for the safety of military officials or civilians, this gear can be highly useful in eliminating the factors of risk. For advanced safety of the military and police officials Ballistic Plates can also be used along with more protective equipments for optimal safety

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