What to Look for in Respirators (News Release)

Here's what to look for when you select a respirator for use around farm dust and other non-toxic fumes:

  • Be sure it has been approved by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). This will appear on the label and it shows the respirator has met certain government tests.
  • Look on the cartridge or filter to see what contaminants it is approved for, such as dust, mists, fumes or certain chemicals.
  • Look for the respirator's "protection factor" or PF rating. Use a respirator with a PF rating of 10 or greater.
  • Always use a respirator that has two straps, not one. A single strap will not provide proper fit.
  • Make sure it is the right size and has a good seal around the mouth and nose. Glasses, clothing, beards and sideburns can make the respirator ineffective. Safety professionals or hospital clinics should "fit test" a respirator for you.
  • A disposable respirator may be relatively expensive if protection is needed on a regular basis. If you have a non-disposable respirator, make sure the filter doesn't need to be replaced.
  • Make sure that you can physically handle the additional exertion of breathing through a filtering mechanism. A physician's approval is recommended before using a respirator, especially if you have heart or respiratory problems.

For more information about respirators, contact your local Extension office or get a copy of the newest Safe Farm publication on this topic.

This news release was distributed by Iowa State University Extension as part of the Safe Farm Program. Safe Farm promotes health and safety in agriculture. It is funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Iowa State University, and a network of groups that serve Iowa farm workers and their families. Distribution date: February 1993.

Disclaimer and Reproduction Information: Information in NASD does not represent NIOSH policy. Information included in NASD appears by permission of the author and/or copyright holder. More