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how to choose your respirator. Gas mask or powered respirator?
19 Nov 2019

Choosing the right respiratory protective equipment ensures a high safety level to all users and for all applications. For atmospheres with a minimum of 19.5% oxygen, 2 filtering respiratory protection solutions exist: the classic respiratory protective mask (more commonly known as a gas mask) or powered air purifying respirator devices.

 

In air purifying respiratory protection, the choice between a conventional mask or a powered mask is simple. Our experts recommend:

  • A classic respiratory protective mask (gas mask) for interventions or short duration situations
  • A powered air purifying respirator device for work or long-duration interventions

A gas mask for short interventions

Gas masks, are filtering respiratory protective equipment, class 3 PPE (personal protective equipment) known in different forms: half-masks, full face masks, single-cartridge masks or dual-cartridge masks. These are the most popular and common respiratory protection devices. Whether it is a complete mask or a half mask, this PPE is used all over the world in a multitude of applications and environments.

Enveloping the airways (nose-mouth) and sometimes the entire face (eye protection), a gas mask purifies polluted, toxic and / or contaminated air through its filter system. Filter cartridges for gas masks are available as bayonet filters (compatible according to brands and models of masks) or RD DIN 40 filters, called universal thread filters, offering a very wide range of protection against gases, organic vapors, solid and liquid particles, acid and nitrous vapors, organic and inorganic compounds, monoxide and nitrogen oxide, radioactive particles, bacteria and viruses.

Because the use of a gas mask requires significant and unnatural breathing effort, this type of protection is not suitable for long-term use. The gas mask choice is right for short-duration situations or short interventions (imminent problem, occasional and non-recurring situations) when oxygen levels in the air exceeds 19.5% vol. (below a supplied air respirator is recommended).

A powered respirator unit for heavy or long-duration work

A powered respirator (also called a powered air purifying respirator) is a positive-pressure air filtering device. A small engine combined with a filtering cartridge block (usually positioned at the waist or in the back) can purify polluted air and transmit it to its user without any breathing effort to provide. Purified air is diffused into a facepiece that can be a hood, a full mask or even a half-mask.

Powered air respirator systems allow to adapt 2 types of facepieces: masks (panoramic, complete or half-masks) or respiratory protective hoods (which generally offer a better field of vision and will also be preferred in case of chemical danger, wearing glasses, or with a beard).

Our experts in respiratory protection recommend the use of PAPR during long periods of work, or during physically demanding work in contaminated atmospheres, toxic, dusty and / or presenting over 40 times the OEL (occupational exposure limit value) of a pollutant. These devices are found in many fields, activities, workstations and production lines. These devices are for example used as welding respiratory protection, as asbestos respiratory protection on decontamination sites, or as lead protective equipment after the Notre Dame de Paris fire.

Gas mask or powered respirator ?

Choosing the right air purifying respiratory protective equipment must be done according to several criteria such as type of use, usage duration, purchase budget and maintenance. Finally, the choice between a gas mask and a powered respirator is important, however making the right choice of filter cartridges for these devices remains essential. Use our filtering cartridge selection tool to make the right choice, and discover our gas mask maintenance solutions.

To choose between a gas mask and a powered air purifying respirator here is our expert’s summary:

Gas mask vs PAPR respirator

Masque à gaz

 

The X-plore 8000 PAPR respirator system by Dräger enhanced positive pressure respirator

Masque à ventilation assistée

*

60 minutes

Max time usage limit
(ED 6106 INRS)

***

Unlimited

***

Simple preparation and easy to use

Ease of use

***

Simple preparation. Use simplified by the device itself (alarms for malfunction, filter change, etc.)

*

Important breathing effort

Comfort

***

Constant air flow

PAPR hoods offering a large field of view

**

Effective protection up to filter saturation

Autonomy

***

Operation for up to 8 hours on a single battery charge

***

Large filters range available.

Great compatibility with Rd40 filters

Filters compatibility

**

Apart from universal threaded devices, a device is only compatible with dedicated filters of the same brand

***

 

Occasional use
**
***Protection level
***

*

Use on an extended period of time is difficult because it requires constant high breathing effort

Extended operating time

***

Constant air flow & long lasting battery ideal for extended use and to work a full day

***

Entry level price

Price

*

Higher cost

**

Maintenance after each use

& mandatory annual tightness control

Maintenance

**

Maintenance after each use

& mandatory annual tightness control

**

Requires the use of a specific case to preserve its lifespan (deformation risk)

Storage

**

Storage in dedicated transport box

**

Long life if the mask is well serviced

Lifespan

**

Despite good maintenance, the engine and the batteries have to be changed in the long run

Notre-Dame lead: protective equipment for professionals

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