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Jonas WinSlo

dust masks

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I am using a 3M 8233 NIOSH N100 dust mask in my studio. It is like a glorified disposable mask - in other words, it doesn't have any filter cartridges that need replacing. I am wondering if it might be time to swap it for a new one. It smells a little like clay when I put it on and start breathing through it. However, breathing is not difficult - that is, it hasn't seemed to become so clogged that it is a struggle to breathe through. The only put off is the scent of clay dust when I put it on. I only use it when I am cleaning the studio or when I feel I might be more heavily exposed to dust (I.e. Opening and wedging a new box of clay, trimming a pot that is a little too dry).


What would anyone recommend? What masks do you use and how often are you replacing them or changing the filters?

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This is from Vince Pitelka's website ( http://iweb.tntech.edu/wpitelka/safety.htm ):


Purchasing a Respirator

Efficient respirators are available at most good hardware stores and home improvement centers, but generally only in a size that fits the “average†face. Always make sure that you get a twin-element “half-mask†respirator with a resilient rubber face piece, equipped with P-100 HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) cartridges or filters designed to protect you from very fine dust. “Half-mask†means that it covers your mouth and nose, but not your eyes, as compared to a full-mask respirator with oxygen supply such as firemen wear.


A respirator appropriate for the ceramic studio does not need to have a cartridge for organic vapors from solvents, paints, etc., unless you specifically need that. Many of the respirators sold in hardware stores and home improvement centers are equipped with cartridges for organic vapors, and those are of no use to you unless they also have a P-100 HEPA rating or have additional P-100 dust filters attached to the cartridges. Also, it is important to be aware that all respirators equipped with organic vapor cartridges must always be stored in a sealed plastic bag when not in use. If left out, the cartridges are constantly absorbing organic vapors from the atmosphere, and quickly exhaust their usefulness. Don't get a respirator equipped with cartridges for paint and solvent fumes unless you specifically need protection from those fumes.


Go to the Lab Safety Supply website for an extensive assortment of high-quality half-mask respirators that come in different sizes to fit your face. Enter “half mask respirator†in the search box. They sell the most popular brands used by professionals in industry, including Scott, 3M, MSA, North, Moldex, AOSafety, Survivair, plus their own Lab Safety Supply brand. Note that some of the masks are available either in standard rubber or in hypoallergenic silicone rubber. Note also that the mask and the cartridges or filters are sold separately.


Select a small, medium, or large mask depending on the estimated size and shape of your face, and purchase a set of P100 HEPA-rated dust cartridges or filters. Click on the little orange icon in the upper right that says “quick-view selection guides†to select the appropriate cartridges and filters, and make sure that you get all the required parts. In some cases you must buy a package of dust filters plus a set of retainer caps to hold the filters on the mask.


When you receive your respirator, test the face piece for sealing efficiency. Strap it on your face snugly, hold both hands over the cartridge ports, and try to breathe in. If there is any leakage around the edges of the mask, then it is a poor fit. Determine whether it is too large or too small, send it back, and exchange it for the right one.



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