UNDERSTAND RESPIRATORY HAZARDS
Dusts, fumes, gases or vapors, and temperature extremes can penetrate and damage your respiratory system. Dust and fumes can irritate your nose and throat, and in some cases, your lungs. Gases and vapors can be absorbed from your lungs into your bloodstream, where they have the potential to damage your brain and internal organs. Very hot or cold air can damage the fine tissues in your mouth and airway and interfere with your normal breathing.
CLEAN YOUR RESPIRATOR REGULARLY
Regular cleaning and inspection prolongs the respirator’s useful life and assures you that it is working as efficiently as possible. For personal hygiene and communicable disease prevention, respirators should not be passed from oneperson to another without first being cleaned and sanitized.
STORE RESPIRATORS IN SEALED, DRY CONTAINERS
When not in use, respirators should be stored to prevent conditions that can deform the face piece, and that protect it from excessive exposure to dust, sunlight, extreme temperatures, excessive moisture or damaging chemicals. Plastic containers with lids can provide adequate storage for respirators.
INSPECT RESPIRATORS MAINTAINED FOR EMERGENCY USE AT LEAST MONTHLY
Respirators maintained for emergency use, such as canister gas masks and self-contained breathing aparatus (SCUBA), should be inspected at least monthly to assure reliabile operation when it is needed. All respirators should be inspected before each use to ensure cleanliness and that all components are present and operable.
BREATHING THROUGH A RESPIRATOR REQUIRES MORE EFFORT
Breathing through a respirator may require more effort than normal breathing. This effort can be difficult for some individuals, for various reasons. If you have a medical limitation that may interefere with your wearing a respirator, be sure to inform your supervisor. You may be required to have an examination by your physician to determine if you are physically able to perform the work while wearing a respirator.
RESPIRATORS DO HAVE LIMITS
Respirators cannot adequately protect a worker from all contaminants under all conditions. In general, the typical half-face air-purifying respirator can be used for protection in environments of up to 10 times the Permissible Exposure Level (PEL). However, the cartridges or canisters of air-purifying respirators have a limited capacity to protect against toxic gases and vapors in the air. If you detect an odor or taste, or feel your eyes or throat irritated, leave the hazardous area immediately and go to a safe area. The cartridge or canister on the respirator should be changed. The California Department of Food and Agriculture requires that air-purifying elements be replaced daily.
RESPIRATORS DO NOT PROVIDE OXYGEN
Air-purifying respirators (canisters or cartridges) do not provide oxygen. They should not be used in situations where the oxygen content in the air is questionable.
MAKE SURE THE RESPIRATOR FITS SNUGLY ON YOUR FACE
Only a secure and snug fit protects you, so make sure you have the right size respirator for your face. The shape of your face, facial hair and condition of your skin can affect your fit. Try various sizes until you find one where air does not leak in around the edges. You can test the respirator fit by placing the palms of your hands over the cartridges and breathing in for 10 seconds. If fit properly, the mask should suck in tightly around your face.
Compiled by Agsafe, 140 Warren Hall, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720.
* Be Safe and Breath Easy *