Respirators: Functions and Types

Respirators are personal protective equipment designed to protect the wearer from inhaling harmful airborne particles, gases, or vapors. They create a seal around the nose and mouth, filtering the air before it is breathed in. Respirators are commonly used in healthcare settings, industrial workplaces, and environments with poor air quality.
Protective equipment
Where to get
Available in hardware stores, medical supply outlets, and online safety equipment retailers.
Applicable for
Prepared by Shruti Sahoo, reviewed by Dr. Eugene Smith

Respirators FAQ

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What was the purpose of a respirator?

Inhaled air then was warmed and moistened as it passed through the same metal grid, providing relief to people with lung diseases. The Respirator became popular, and was mentioned in the literature of the day, including in the writings of Elizabeth Gaskell, William Makepeace Thackeray and Charles Dickens .

What is a filtering mask & respirator?

They can also contain droplets and particles you breathe, cough, or sneeze out so you do not spread them to others. Masks and respirators (i.e., specialized filtering masks such as “N95s”) can provide different levels of protection depending on the type of mask and how they are used.

Which respirator is best?

Loosely woven cloth products provide the least protection, layered finely woven products offer more protection, well-fitting disposable surgical masks and KN95s offer even more protection, and well-fitting NIOSH-approved respirators (including N95s) offer the highest level of protection.

What is a disposable respirator?

*As per section 6, Medical and Physical considerations, AS/NZS 1715 Disposable respirators, also known as filtering facepieces, are used to help protect against some particulate hazards. They’re lightweight and require no maintenance since they’re discarded after use.

What are the different types of respirators?

There are two main categories of respirators: the air-purifying respirator, in which respirable air is obtained by filtering a contaminated atmosphere, and the air-supplied respirator, in which an alternate supply of breathable air is delivered.

How do air purifying respirators work?

Powered air-purifying respirators (PAPR), use a pump or fan to constantly move air through a filter and supply purified air into a mask, helmet or hood. Types of respirators by physical form. Click to enlarge. All respirators have some type of facepiece held to the wearer's head with straps, a cloth harness, or some other method.

How do you know if a respirator is incorrectly fitted?

An incorrectly fitted respirator will not provide you with the intended level of protection from airborne contaminants! Exhale sharply. While doing so, feel for air seeping through the edges of the respirator. If you find a leak, adjust the respirator and repeat until you get a good fit!

What is a filtering facepiece respirator?

These respirators only protect against particles. They do not protect against chemicals, gases, or vapors, and are intended only for low hazard levels. The commonly known “N-95” filtering facepiece respirator is one type of particulate respirator, often used in hospital to protect against infectious agents.

Respirators References

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