Half Mask Respirator Care | How to Take Care of Your Respirator
Your half mask respirator is one of the most important pieces of equipment you will ever use. It protects you from breathing in airborne particles and contaminants that could possibly harm or even kill you. There should already be a respiratory program established at the job site or workplace you work at, and the company you work for should be responsible for enforcing it, along with providing you with the correct type of respirator relative to the amount of exposure you will be experiencing. However, it is your shared responsibility to make sure that your respiratory equipment is functioning properly and is protecting you from any contaminants and particles you are expected to encounter. To help you with this, we’ve put together this half mask respirator care guide to assist you in the proper care of your respiratory equipment. Remember, you can neglect these guidelines all you want, the only person you are endangering is yourself.
Here are five main points you want to be aware of when maintaining and caring for your respirator.
- Check the disposable filter cartridges. Usually, they will contain some type of a chemical absorbent to trap particles and contaminants. If, at any time, you start to experience difficulty breathing while wearing the respirator, replace the filter cartridge IMMEDIATELY. If you start to taste or smell the particles and contaminants in the air through your mask, you will also want to change your filter cartridge IMMEDIATELY. Failure to do this will have you breathing in the very contaminants and particles that your respirator was designed to protect you against.
- Thoroughly and carefully inspect your respirator often. We strongly suggest you do this on a daily basis or before each use. When inspecting, check the elastic band to make sure it has not lost any of its elasticity and if it has any frays, tears, or loose strands. Also be sure to inspect the cartridge housing for any cracks and the cartridge threads to make sure they are not damaged or stripped. The face piece should be inspected for any holes, cuts, or tears and the exhaust valves should be inspected to make sure they are not damaged or sticking in any way.
- Clean your respirator regularly and after each and every use. A majority of the time this will include disinfecting, washing, rinsing, and drying. If you ever have a question or doubt about the process, just refer to the manufacturer’s suggestions. A lot of face pieces can simply be washed with warm water, but it is also acceptable to disinfect your face piece with germicidal detergent or a disinfectant cleaner. All rinsing should be done with water and air drying is recommended. Drying with a towel or with heat could possibly damage to the respirator, so try to avoid that.
- You may not think of this, but how you store your respirator is important too. Any exposure to sunlight, heat, dust, or vapor contaminants should be avoided. Storing your respirator in a sealed plastic bag will usually do the trick. However, make a note to not smash, cram, or force the respirator into any tight or awkward positions. If you do this, your respirator could possibly get warped permanently and will affect how well it fits. A poorly fitted respirator will not give you the full protection you need.
- Make it a habit to do a “fit check” to ensure that your seal is good. You can do this by placing your hand over the exhalation valve, covering it, and exhaling gently into the face piece. If you notice any air leaking out, notify the administrator of your respirator program immediately. You will need to fix it or get a completely new one.
It should be no secret that half mask respirator care is important. Without a properly functioning respirator, you have no barriers between you and the particles and contaminants that could severely harm you, or worse, kill you. It’s not worth it to be lazy and fail to regularly inspect your respiratory equipment. Make it a habit to inspect your respirator before and after each use and also on a daily basis. The quality of the rest of your life depends on it.