It is mandatory to use an air-purifying respirator when you need to work in a hazardous environment but before even entering such potentially dangerous areas, you need to have extensive knowledge on how to use the respirators properly and how to handle and store it in order to avoid any damages.
we have explained below the procedures to inspect and store the half respirator mask which is widely used by most people for protection against hazards as this mask is tight-fitted and protects your respiratory system as it covers your nose and mouth. The procedure we are going to talk about here is applicable for all types of respirator masks available in the market.
If you are using a half mask respirator or any other type of air-purifying mask, inspecting it before using it in the hazardous environment is your responsibility which you need to do religiously. The manufacturer of the respirator provides you with a booklet consisting of all the information regarding the respirator, familiarize yourself with the respirator diagram and all of its parts before you inspect it. The following are some respirator inspection guidelines.
Step 1- Inspect the Headpiece:
Step 2- Inspect the Head and Neck Straps:
Step 3- Inspect the Filters/ Cartridges:
Step 4- Inspect the Valves:
You should always perform a respirator seal check before entering the hazardous environment which ensures that an adequate seal is achieved between the facepiece and your face, if not, then the respirator will not protect you from potential harm caused by inhaling gases and vapors from the hazardous environment you are entering.
Step 1- Positive Pressure Test:
In this test, you will need to cover the exhalation valve with your palm to block the airway. You may have to remove the exhalation valve while performing this test and remember to replace it back when you finish the test. Do not press the mask hard while covering the valve to displace the fitting of the mask. Now, you need to exhale while wearing the mask, covering the exhalation valve, the mask will bulge a little and you will need to hold the breath for about 10 seconds keeping the facepiece pressurized. If the pressure in the facepiece is maintained without any leak, then it means that you have achieved a satisfactory positive pressure fit test. This test is applicable for both full facepiece and half mask respirator.
Step 2- Negative Pressure Test:
You need to cover the cartridge/filter by placing your palm over it. Do not press it so hard that the mask fit changes. If the cartridge/ filter is not getting covered by your palm, then use a latex glove to do so. Gently inhale with the filter/cartridge covered and the facepiece should collapse and hold your breath for 10 seconds so that the facepiece remains collapsed. If it does without any leakage, then you have achieved a satisfactory negative fit-test. Again, the same test can be used for both half mask respirator and full facepiece mask.
There are different ways to ensure that the mask fits you right. The easiest way to do is by simply wearing it to see if the facepiece feels comfortable and secure. Around 80% of people used a medium-sized mask hence that is mostly the size that would fit you as well but you cannot be sure till you do a complete fit test to see if the mask is secure in its place with a tight air seal.
The fit test requires you to wear the mask which is attached to a special adaptor that is hooked onto a machine that monitors the level of particles inside the respirator and compares it with the level of particles outside in the air. The particle level needs to be lower in order for you to qualify in a fit test. You will be asked to breathe differently in the fit test like normally or heavily at various points for an extensive test.
While all the above-discussed points may ensure that you are using a secure half mask respirator, it may not remain secure always due to any damaged caused or a change in your fit-size owing to your physical changes hence getting these tests done frequently is important in order to remain safe and healthy in a hazardous environment while using a respirator mask for mold.