What type of mask and rating should I use?

Firstly, what are the six basic types of hazards to your breathing?

Dust - Formed by the breaking down of solid materials, normally when materials are altered. For example, sanding, cutting, grinding and brushing. In general, the smaller the dust particle, the greater the hazard that it presents. Fibres from materials should also be treated as dusts.

Mist - Formed by the processes that involve atomisation (such as spraying, cleaning and cutting/grinding using coolants) and consists of tiny liquid droplets rather like steam in a bathroom.

Fume -  Formed by the vapourisation of a solid material by the application of intense heat. Extremely fine particulates are formed as the fume cools and condenses. Many processes form fume, such as smelting, pouring metals and many welding applications.

Vapour - A gaseous state formed by evaporation from substances that are normally solid or liquid at room temperature. Generally released at room temperature (petrol, methylated spirits), many industrial processes used in degreasing vapourise particularly quickly once heated.

Gas - An air-like substance at room temperature. Gases can travel far, very quickly.

Oxygen Deficiency/Enrichment - When an atmosphere is likely to contain less than 18% oxygen (or where conditions may exist in the future for this to happen); and in certain circumstances where the risk may be oxygen enrichment, which can lead to explosion and severe impairment of operatives. Note: Monitoring devices should always be used to check oxygen levels of an unknown environment. Conventional dust masks are not suitable for oxygen deficient situations.

Secondly, what type of mask should I use ?

Finally, what mask rating should I use?

Some of these hazards are merely irritants and some can be harmful poisons, so it's obviously important to know which airborne material you need to be protected against. This table will help you choose.

Disposable Respirators:

ProChoice disposable respirators are available with P1 and P2 ratings, and can be purchased with or without Active Carbon Filters.

P1 rated respirators protect against the inhalation of mechanically generated dust particles resulting from tasks such as sanding, grinding and sawing.

P2 respirators protect against mechanically generated particles, but also protect against mists, fumes and vapours arising from jobs such as welding, spraying, painting and garden dusting. Both P1 and P2 type respirators are available with Carbon Activated Filters for protection against nuisance-level organic vapours.

The ProChoice disposable respirator range is colour coded so that you can easily select the correct respirator for the task. The colour code is apparent on the packaging, the nose-piece and valve. Check the packaging and reference chart, available in the ProChoice catalogue, to ensure you get the maximum protection.

Check the packaging to ensure you get the maximum protection.