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How to Select Air Respirators for Your Workplace

air respiratorsSelecting the right air respirators for your workplace is no easy task. Get it wrong and the result could be catastrophic. While you should seek help from an experienced safety professional before choosing respirators for your workplace, it’s helpful to understand the many different types of respirators on the market.

To help, here’s a quick overview:

Air Purifying vs. Supplied Air

All respirators can be divided into two main groups: air purifying or supplied air. Air purifying respirators filter particulates or gasses out of the existing air supply. In contrast, supplied air respirators don’t use the existing air at all—they get their air from a separate, secure source.

Air Purifying Respirators

These air respirators use filters to remove hazardous elements from the air, making it safe to breathe. While air purifying respirators come in many different forms, they can be broadly divided into the following groups:

1. Particulate. These respirators filter out contaminants such as dust, metal and mists. They’re also commonly called “dust respirators,” “fume respirators” and “mist respirators.”

2. Chemical cartridge. These air purifying respirators remove gases and vapors from the air through sorbent material contained in a cartridge or canister. These respirators are often combined with particulate respirators.

3. Gas masks. These respirators contain more absorbent material than cartridge respirators—providing a higher level of protection.

4. Powered air purifying. Powered air purifying respirators use a blower to pass the air through a filter. This makes it easier for the wearer to “pull in air” through the filter, and it also creates a better seal around the face.

When oxygen levels are low or contaminant levels too high in the existing air, air purifying respirators may not be sufficient. If so, you’ll need to go with a supplied air respirator.

Supplied Air Respirators

Supplied air respirators don’t make use of the existing air supply and instead provide air from a separate source. Supplied air respirators can be divided into the following categories:

1. SCBA (Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus). These respirators replace the existing air supply with air from an air tank.

2. Air line. Air line respirators replace the existing air with a dedicated line of air from a safe source.

3. EEBA (Emergency Escape Breathing Apparatus). These respirators provide breathable air for a short period of time (typically five to 15 minutes) to give workers time to escape from a hazardous area. EEBAs are sometimes combined with air line respirators—the EEBA providing a backup source of air in case the air line source fails.

Air respirators come in a variety of styles, including quarter-mask, half-face mask and full mask. Your selection will depend on the hazards present and the specifics of your workplace.

Both air purifying and supplied air filters must be carefully checked and maintained. Filters can clog and cartridges can become saturated. Always maintain and replace air respirators according to manufacturers’ instructions.

Air Respirators at Select Safety Sales

At Select Safety Sales, we carry a great selection of air respirators, including disposable, reusable, half face and full face air respirators. We have well priced respirator cartridges and filters. We also carry powered air purifying respirators and respirator fit test kits.

Want more detailed information on any of these products? Contact the safety experts at Select Safety Sales: (866) 864-3495 or sales@selectsafetysales.com. You can also reach us through online chat!


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