June 18, 2024

How do Respirators Actually Work? – 2024

Respirators are as important as the food we eat daily. We breathe in fine dust, aerosols, and other tiny particles that are dangerous to our health. These particles cannot be escaped because they are so small that they mix up with the air we breathe. We face many health risks and challenges based on bacteria and viruses that enter our immune system through the air we breathe. Breathing in these dangerous particles can lead to sickness, disease, and in the worst case, death.

The only solution to avoiding all sorts of airborne diseases is by wearing respirators. Many working environments demand that you wear respirators, but how do respirators work, what sort of disease are you evading while wearing respirators, and how do you find the perfect respirator for you? These and many more questions will be answered in this piece.

Uses of Respirators

The dangerous particles humans breathe in can be radioactive or carcinogenic, which can damage the respiratory system and, in the long run, lead to sickness or death. The primary purpose is to guide against bacteria, smoke, viruses, aqueous, fine dust, and oily aerosols at your place of work.

Protectors are also referred to as dust masks or particle-filtering half masks, and their protective purpose is standardized all through Europe. They are also rated by three classes known as FFP1, FFP2, and FFP3.

In many standard working environments, respiratory protection devices are included in personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect workers against harmful particles.

How Does a Respirator Work?

There are respirators known as particle-filtering respirators, which protects human against particles alone. These protectors cannot protect against vapors or gases. They are made of various layers of filtered materials. These multiple layers are there for different purposes, including natural filtration, enhancing strength and tear resistance, and improving the look and feel of the respirator.

Respirators, in general, help to breathe resistance; that is, it help with the obstruction that the wearers are supposed to feel when breathing in and out. It also helps to keep breathing resistance very low because the higher the resistance, the harder the wearer’s lungs will work. The filter materials in the respirator are electrostatically charged; hence they can filter to filter particles and, at the same time, should be air-permeable. This will make even the tiniest particles stick to the filter material rather than pass through it into the respiratory system.

Types of Respirators According to Protection Classes

FFP1 Respirators

FFP1 Respirators can filter particles of nothing less than 80%, protecting wearers against non-fibrogenic and non-toxic dust. They also filter close to 4 times the respective occupational exposure limit (OEL).

[Respirators] in this category are used in environments where the particles inhaled are not likely to get the worker sick but can irritate the respiratory tract or cause irritating odours. Examples are filtering facepiece [respirators] and reuseable [respirators].

FFP2 Respirators

FFP2 Respirators filters close to 10 times the occupational exposure limit (OEL) and note less than 94% of particles in the air. These [respirators] protect wearers against particles damaging to their health, such as aerosols, liquid and solid particles, smoke, and dust. They are used where fibrogenic particles may lead to long-term lung tissue damage and short-term respiratory tract irritation. [Respirators] in this category include negative pressure, full face, half face, and positive pressure [respirators].

FFP3 Respirators

This type of respirator filters close to 30 times the occupational exposure limit (OEL) and 99% of particles in the air. They are often used in working environments where radioactive and carcinogenic are used. [Respirators] in this category include loose-fitting [respirators], tight-fitting [respirators], and self-contained breathing apparatus.


Using the right respirator is very important. You must know your hazard type, determine the level of protection needed, and go for medical evaluations to know the best respirator type.

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