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Respirator FAQ's

  What are the regulatory agencies involved with respiratory protection?   
  Which respirators should be used for protection against TB?   
  Do Moldex Particulate Respirators contain latex?   
  What is a fit test?   
  Is a user seal check the same as a fit test?   
  How is a user seal check performed?   
  How is a qualitative fit test conducted?   
  What else does OSHA require?   
  What maintenance and care is required for respirators?   
  How long can a particulate respirator be used before it must be discarded?   
  If employees have a beard or moustache, is their respirator still effective?   
  What type of respirator should I use for welding?   
  What type of respirator should I use for silica? Sandblasting?   
  What can I use for isocyanates?   
  When should you change the N95 Healthcare Respirator?   
  What respirator does Moldex recommend for mold spores?   
  Can you still use irritant smoke to fit test?   
  What respirator does Moldex recommend for cigarette smoke?   
  How can I tell if my respirator is certified under new regulations?   
  What is "quantitative" fit test?   
  What is a "qualitative" fit test?   
  What are the dates on the respirator products?   


What are the regulatory agencies involved with respiratory protection?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the agency that enforces health and safety regulations in the workplace. In this situation, OSHA determines the appropriate respiratory protection for specific hazards and enforces its use. NIOSH regulates the manufacture and testing of respirators, but does not control their use. OSHA only allows the use of NIOSH certified respirators.

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Which respirators should be used for protection against TB?
In October 1994, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued Guidelines for Preventing the Transmission of TB in Health Care Facilities. This document outlined the minimum acceptable criteria that any respirator must meet for protection against TB. On September 6, 1995, OSHA issued OSHA Enforcement Policy for Occupational Exposure to Tuberculosis. It states, based on CDC criteria and NIOSH’s evaluation of newly certified respirators, any particulate respirator certified under 42 CFR 84 will be acceptable for protection against TB. The minimum acceptable class of respirator for this purpose is N95. Depending on the actual exposure conditions, higher classes of respirator may be appropriate, e.g. N99 or N100. Each healthcare situation must be evaluated by a health professional. You may also want to refer to NIOSH’s recent publication entitled Protect Yourself Against Tuberculosis-A Respiratory Protection Guide for Health Care Workers (publication # 96-102) and TB Respiratory Protection Program In Health Care Facilities: Administrator's Guide.

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Do Moldex Particulate Respirators contain latex?
The cloth straps on our HandyStrap Series respirators as well as the adjustable strap and EZ-ON respirators contain latex. All our other models (2200, 2300, 2400, 2500, 2310) also contain latex. Persons highly sensitive to natural rubber latex may have an allergic reaction. Our 1500 N Series Healthcare Respirators DO NOT contain latex.

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What is a fit test?
Fit testing is a way of ensuring that a respirator fits each individual wearer. Fit testing requires a subject to wear a respirator and another person to administer the test. There are two types of fit tests, quantitative and qualitative. A qualitative test is a pass/fail test that relies on the individual's response to the test agent such as isoamyl acetate (banana oil), irritant smoke, saccharin or Bitrex. Quantitative fit tests assess the adequacy of respirator fit by numerically measuring the amount of leakage into the respirator. This test requires sophisticated monitoring instruments.

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Is a user seal check the same as a fit test?
A user seal check is not the same as a fit test. It is used to determine if the respirator has correctly sealed before a contaminated work area is entered. It does not take the place of a fit test (which is a method that can be used to select the right size of respirator for the user or determine the adequacy of fit). A user seal check is required each time the respirator is donned whereas a fit test is required at least annually.

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How is a user seal check performed?
A user seal check should be performed by the wearer prior to entering a contaminated area. For disposable respirators, the subject cups both hands over the front of the respirator and then inhales sharply. A negative pressure should be felt inside the respirator. If any leakage is detected at respirator edges, straps should be adjusted by pulling them back along the sides and/or repositioning the respirator. For a reusable elastomeric facepiece, the cartridges are covered by the hands and the subject gently inhales and holds his breath. The facepiece should slightly collapse. If air leakage is detected, readjustment of the mask and/or straps is required. The user seal check should be repeated until the respirator seals to the face. If the proper fit cannot be obtained, the wearer should not enter the contaminated area and should contact their supervisor.

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How is a qualitative fit test conducted?
A test administrator challenges a subject wearing a respirator with a test aerosol. The subject dons the respirator and a fit test hood. The test aerosol (such as saccharin or Bitrex) is sprayed inside the hood while the subject performs prescribed exercises. If the subject can taste the test agent, the respirator fails the test and another respirator must be tested. Prior to conducting the test, the administrator must determine if the subject can detect the test agent. If the subject can't detect the test agent, another one that can be detected must be used. The fit test procedure requires about 15 to 20 minutes.

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What else does OSHA require?
OSHA requires all employers, providing respirators to their employees, to have a comprehensive respirator protection program in place. This includes, but is not limited to, written standard operating procedures, training, medical surveillance and fit testing. For more information, refer to 29 CFR 1910.134.

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What maintenance and care is required for respirators?
The employer must provide for the cleaning and disinfecting, storage, inspection and repair of respirators used by employees according to the procedures in 29CFR1910.134.

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How long can a particulate respirator be used before it must be discarded?
Respirator filters, whether disposable or reusable, in some cases can be used for extended periods of time. In other cases, they must be discarded at the end of each shift or sooner. You should always refer to the time use restrictions specified by the manufacturer or regulation. All filters must be replaced whenever they are damaged, soiled, or causing noticeably increased breathing resistance (i.e., causing discomfort to the wearer). Before each use, the outside of the filter material should be inspected. If the filter material is physically damaged or soiled, the filter should be discarded. Employers must develop standard operating procedures for storing, reusing and disposing of respirators that have been designated as disposable.

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If employees have a beard or moustache, is their respirator still effective?
Tight-fitting facepiece respirators must not be worn by employees who have facial hair that comes between the sealing surface of the facepiece and the face. Respirators that do not rely on a tight face seal, such as hoods or helmets, may be used by bearded individuals. Always refer to your employer's respiratory protection program policy.

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What type of respirator should I use for welding?
There are so many different types of welding environments and applications to consider. But in general, in non-confined spaces, areas free of oil and where a substance specific standard does not exist, any of the Moldex N Class respirators could possibly be used such as the 2300 N Series, 2700 N Series, 2310N99 and 2315N99. Where nuisance levels of either ozone or organic vapors below the OSHA PEL might be present, the Moldex #2400N95, or 2800N95 is recommended. In areas with oil, the Moldex #2740R95 may be used. SEE MOLDEX TECH BRIEF: Welding Fumes and for more detailed information.

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What type of respirator should I use for silica? Sandblasting?
You CANNOT use any particulate product for sandblasting. Where exposure to silica occurs other than sandblasting, particulate respirators can be considered. There are different classes of silica with different TLV's or PEL's.

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What can I use for isocyanates?
You CANNOT use any particulate respirator for exposures to isocyanates. NIOSH recommends supplied air respirators.

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When should you change the N95 Healthcare Respirator?
When the user comes into any contact with bodily fluids, saliva or blood change the respirator immediately. You must also follow the policy of your infection control department.

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What respirator does Moldex recommend for mold spores?
There is no PEL for mold spores. Contact your local health department for a recommendation.

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Can you still use irritant smoke to fit test?
Yes. You can use irritant smoke only against the Moldex #8990 P100 filters, but Moldex recommends the Bitrex fit test for all models.

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What respirator does Moldex recommend for cigarette smoke?
Moldex DOES NOT have a recommendation for cigarette smoke.

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How can I tell if my respirator is certified under new regulations?
The TC# should start with 84A.

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What is "quantitative" fit test?
A quantitative fit test measures the adequacy of a respirator's fit by numerically measuring the amount of leakage into the respirator. The OSHA protocols include use of a PortaCount, CNC or CNP test.

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What is a "qualitative" fit test?
A qualitative fit test is a pass/fail test that relies on the employee's response to a test agent. If the employee tastes the test agent, the test is failed. The OSHA protocols include saccharin, isoamyl acetate (banana oil), Bitrex and irritant smoke.

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What are the dates on the respirator products?
All respirator products have "Use By" or "Expiration Dates" on them. These dates are placed on the product packaging as they are manufactured. This is intended to assist our customers who use and sell our products to deplete older inventory first and to protect users where the performance of the product may have been affected by unknown storage conditions. If this date is passed, or the product packaging is not intact, we recommend that the product NOT be sold or used.



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