January Feature - Things you may not know about ..... RESPIRATORS
A respirator is a type of personal protective equipment that is worn over the nose and mouth. A respirator can protect you against breathing in harmful contaminants that are in the air - if you use it properly.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO WEAR A RESPIRATOR?
Cleaning gourds or gourd carving can create a lot of dust that gets into the air. This dust
may contain mold. If you breathe in this dust, you might become temporarily or
permanently ill. You might become ill right away or sometime in the future.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT KINDS OF RESPIRATORS?
Disposable: Most gourders use N95 disposable respirators. These are good for basic protection against mold, but not against harmful chemicals like paint vapors. Some disposable masks have small exhalation valves (see below) with will keep your eyeglasses from fogging up. When using disposable masks, ALWAYS WEAR AN N95 DISPOSABLE RESPIRATOR OR BETTER. This type provides good basic protection, is inexpensive, and easy to find. It must be labeled with the words “NIOSH” and “N95.” If it does not have these words, it isn't providing adequate protection!
Reusable: Another option is to use a reusable Half Face Respirator with replaceable
filter cartridges These provide a higher level of protection, but they are more expensive
and it may be difficult to find one that fits smaller faces.)
CAN ANYONE USE A RESPIRATOR?
Using a respirator makes your lungs and heart work harder. If you have a lung or
heart condition, wearing a respirator or working on gourds may be dangerous for you.
If you have facial hair, you may not be able to wear a respirator. The edge of a respirator
must form a tight seal against your skin. If the edge of a respirator rests on facial hair,
contaminants can leak into the respirator. You must shave off any facial hair that touches
the edge of the respirator.
MAKING SURE THAT THE RESPIRATOR FITS PROPERLY
If your respirator does not fit correctly, it will not protect you from harmful contaminants.
Make sure the metal nose band is formed around your nose for a good fit. Criss cross the
elastic straps behind your head to get a good tight fit. You should conduct a “seal check”
every time you put on a respirator. This will help you make sure it fits and is properly
positioned on your face.
• To check for leaks when exhaling, completely cover the exhalation port with the palm
of your hand so that no air can flow out. Exhale more strongly than usual. If the mask
bulges slightly and you do not feel any air flow escaping across your face, the respirator
fits properly when exhaling.
• To check for leaks when inhaling (breathing in), completely cover any exhalation valve or filter cartridges with the
palms of your hands so that no air can flow in. Inhale more strongly than usual. If the mask collapses slightly and you do not feel any air
entering the mask across your face, the respirator fits properly when inhaling.
• If you are using a disposable N95 respirator - Firmly cover the mask with the palms of your hands. Inhale and exhale more strongly than usual. If you do not detect any air flow in or out around the edges of the respirator, the respirator fits properly. (If the mask has an exhalation port, be sure to cover the port when you breathe out.)