How to Choose the Best Safety Mask?
Table of Contents
Top Best Safety Masks Based on Reviews and Price
Why You Need a Good Safety Masks?
Air pollution is increasing day by day in every part of the world. The problem with polluted air is that it encompasses harmful airborne particles like residue, vapor, gases, smoke, and soot. The fundamental sources of emissions that pollute the air we inhale are industries and vehicles.
When it comes to safeguarding yourself from air pollution, the most commonly used and easily available product is the safety mask. But, the thing to remember here is that an anti-pollution mask will not completely get rid of harmful pollutants from entering your stream.
Studies show that most of these masks cannot filter the nitrogen dioxide produced by cigarette smoke or vehicles. As you plan to buy a mask, you should understand the type of masks available in the market.
But, before that understanding the health benefits irrespective of the type of mask you use will help you arrive at an informed decision:
Health Benefits of Safety Mask
In general, the purpose of a safety respirator is to filter out harmful particles from getting into your system via your mouth and nose. It will also protect you from minute particulates from entering your system. To get the benefits of this mask, you should buy the right mask. But, how to choose the right one will be your question.
Top 8 Factors to Consider When Buying Safety Masks
As mentioned earlier, you can buy a safety mask only when you are aware of the different types available in the market. Not just this consideration, but there are many other factors that you should consider to end up with the best safety mask. Let us discuss one-by-one here:
1. Understand the Types of Safety Masks
The purpose of a surgical mask is to prevent the nasal discharge of the person wearing it from spreading to another person. However, these masks cannot protect against airborne bacteria, fine particles, and viruses. Even, doctors use them when they evaluate patients with cold and flu to prevent the discharge from infecting them. Individuals with cold and flu also use these masks.
A safety respirator is generally designed to protect from harmful gases, fumes, vapors, and dust. Respirators are further classified into two and they are:
They are designed to cover either full or half face and they are generally used by people in their jobs when they have to handle dangerous chemicals or fire. When you buy this type of mask, it should be highly effective and should perfectly fit your face. For instance, if there is a gap between the mask and your face, it will not do the required job. It will protect against smoke and haze.
In general, these respirators are given different numbers like N95, R100, P100, etc. These numbers help with identifying the level of protection the respirator can provide. The letter N here denotes, not-oil resistant, R denotes oil-resistant masks and P denotes oil proof. The number following the letter determines the percentage of particles that the mask can prevent. Even, in this type, there should not be a gap between your face and the mask to get complete protection. Here, you should also know about the types of disposable safety respirators available in the market:
- FFP1 is a type of disposable safety respirator that gives minimal protection. It helps safeguard against non-toxic particulates like plaster of Paris, gypsum, coal dust, pollen, sugar, limestone, cement and brick dust. It can filter about 80% of the fine particles in the air.
- FFP2 is known for providing moderate level protection. It will help with safeguarding the user from fume and hazardous mists, lead dust, hay, brake dust, granite, and softwood dust. It can effectively filter 94% of dust particles in the air.
- FFP3 can provide the highest level of protection against the other two types. It will help with safeguarding against fine dust particles, radioactive dust, asbestos dust, and even virus and bacteria. FFP3 masks are effective as they can filter 99% of dust particles in the air.
So, remember the above-mentioned types when you compare and choose the right mask.
2. Which Pollutants Do You Wish to Get Protection Against?
You should decide on the safety mask based on your work environment. For instance, if you are a construction worker, you will have to make sure to choose the mask that will filter the fine dust particles like cement dust in construction sites.
In the same way, if you wish to wear the mask when you ride on your bike, you should choose a mask that will effectively filter the fine particles that spread in the air at heavy traffic sites. If you work in the field of medicine, you should be careful about using a mask that will prevent bacteria and viruses from entering into your stream.
3. Size as an Essential Consideration
People compare different features, but they overlook the most fundamental aspect of comparison. The thing they forget to compare is the size of the mask. They place their order without considering this aspect and when the safety mask reaches them, they find that it does not fit them.
So, do not forget to consider the size as the right size is highly important to provide protection from external pathogens. The right size is that the mask should fit tightly on chin, nose, and face. Otherwise, you should make sure to choose a mask with adjustable fittings.
4. Consider the Life of the Mask
In general, disposable masks come with a lifespan of a maximum of 48 hours. When you use any type of mask, do not forget to read the manufacturer’s instructions. If the life of the mask has been specified, do not use it more than the specified lifespan. If you use it, you cannot get the expected protection from the safety respirator anymore.
Further, lifespan also relies on usage, which will differ from one person to another. If you feel that it is not worthy to use the mask anymore, it is better to discard it.
5. Valves Used in the Mask
Masks, as you know, are the best preventive options when you are engaged in any type of outdoor activity. When you compare safety masks, you will find that some of them come with valves, while some do not. If you are a person engaged in rigorous physical exercise, you can go for the one with one or two valves.
However, if you wear glasses or you do simple physical activities you may choose masks without valves. The reason is that when you engage in rigorous physical activities, you will have heavy breathing. During this process, carbon dioxide will gather and can create moisture inside the mask, which will not be safe for you.
6. Filters in the Mask
In many instances, when we come across heavy air pollution, we use to cover our nose and mouth using our handkerchief. But, this type of closing will not provide the required protection. This is where filters in masks will ensure better protection. Based on the type of filter used in a safety mask, it will efficiently filter fine particles. You might have heard that the finest particles are the ones that are dangerous to inhale.
When most masks can provide filtration of up to 5-10 microns, some of them can filter particles as tiny as 0.3 microns. So, do not forget to consider the layers of filters used in the mask before selecting. Even, you can consider variants that contain carbon filters as they are known to be effective in absorbing gas-based pollution, viruses, bacteria, and even bad odors.
7. Consider the Certifications
When you plan to buy masks to protect yourself from dust when riding or just walking on the road, you will come across many cheap variants in the market. Of course, we cannot say that the cheapest is always the worst. But, when you compare safety masks, do not forget to consider the certifications.
It is better to check whether the mask has been certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. You can find the details about the rating and certification of the safety mask right on the label. From the label, you can also understand the types of dust that a specific mask can handle and accordingly you can choose one.
If you plan to buy a mask for your specific job, you can consider a mask with at least an N95 rating, which will filter 95% of the dust particles. If your job does not involve oil-based particles, this mask can provide you the required protection.
8. Ability to Breath
Most dust masks simply need the user to breathe around them. Of course, it is not totally impossible to breathe when you wear a dust mask. However, it will not be too easy as well. Some people make it a practice to take a break from wearing some masks for them to get deep breaths.
You can consider buying a safety mask with an exhalation valve. It will help with strong breathing both in and out so that you can wear the mask for longer without having to remove every time you wish to take a deep breath.
The safety mask has been around for many years now. The purpose for which you wish to use the mask will decide the most suitable mask for you apart from other considerations mentioned above.