Here you will find a quick overview of frequently asked questions about respiratory protection. Of course you can contact us with any questions or suggestions.
Overview about the FAQ:
- How do respirators work and when do I need them?
- How do I choose the right respirator?
- How can an optimal sealed fit be ensured?
- When should I replace a disposable respirator?
- Why does the mask have an expiry date?
- What protection classes are there and what do these mean?
- Some masks are marked with a “D”. What does this certification signify?
- What does an “R” or “NR” certification mean?
- Why do some masks have additional filter containers with inhalation valves?
- What regulations do I need to consider when wearing a respirator?
- Which uvex safety goggles can be worn with a respirator?
- Why does the mask require a sealing lip and adjustable nose clip?
- What do MAK, OEL and TRK mean?
- What is a CAS registry number?
1. How do respirators work and when do I need them?
A detailed explanation of how disposable respirators work can be found under the following link: Function
Further information on potential areas of application for disposable respirators can be found by following the link below (this list is by no means exhaustive): Activity
2. How do I choose the right respirator?
Follow the first link for advice on choosing the correct respirator for your needs. The second link provides rough recommendations on areas of application for particular activities.
3. How can an optimal sealed fit be ensured?
There are a number of subjective and objective means of testing a respirator’s fit. This information may help you to find the type of mask which best fits your particular face shape. Detailed information on the testing procedures is available by following the link below: Proper Use/ Fit-test
4. When should I replace a disposable respirator?
Disposable respirators are generally intended to be worn for a single shift, which is assumed to be eight hours of work. In certain areas of application, for example when working with toxic hazardous materials, the masks are only usable once. This means that a mask must be disposed of every time it is removed and replaced with a new one. This applies to working activities in the presence of carcinogenic substances, for example.
Furthermore, disposable respirators should only be worn for one day and by one individual for reasons of hygiene. Only masks marked with an “R” can be hygienically cleaned with uvex clear cleaning spray and therefore subsequently worn for a second shift.
When a respirator mask is being used, it gradually becomes loaded with particles. This causes the filter material to become clogged up over time, increasing the mask’s breathing resistance. In environments with a particularly high particle concentration, it may even be necessary to use several masks in one day as the mask may clog up too quickly and cause breathing problems.
Extensive information regarding wearing periods can be found in the respective national regulations. In Germany, the relevant regulation is BGR 190 on the use of respirator devices. A brief overview of this can be found by following the link below: Standards/regulation
5. Why does the mask have an expiry date?
The filter effect of disposable masks is determined by the filter material’s electrostatic charge. The shelf life of uvex disposable respirators is limited to 36 months because this electrostatic charge declines over time. The expiration date is clearly marked on each box. More information about the filter effect and function can be found here: Function
6. What protection classes are there and what do these mean?
Three protection classes of disposable respirators are defined under EN 149: FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3.
Further information on the protection classes can be found here: Protection classes
7. Some masks are marked with a “D”. What does this certification signify?
The “D” certification for disposable respirators signals that it fulfils an additional requirement under the EN 149 standard, the dolomite dust test. This tests whether the mask’s breathing resistance remains low after being loaded with dolomite dust. For this reason, the “D” certification is proof of the filter material quality and confirms that the mask can be worn in environments with even extremely high dust exposure over a long period of time. Details of the EN 149 standard can be found here: Standards/regulation
8. What does an “R” or “NR” certification mean?
In accordance with the EN 149 standard, an “R” certification for a disposable respirator stands for “reusable” and “NR” for “non-reusable.” In determining whether a mask can be used for a second shift, its cleanability is tested. If it is deemed cleanable, it is designated “R”, if not, it is marked “NR”.
For more information on wearing periods, please see question 4. Details of the DIN EN 149 standard can be found here: Standards/regulation
9. Why do some masks have additional filter containers with inhalation valves?
The additional filter containers significantly reduce the breathing resistance and work in conjunction with the inhalation valves to effectively regulate the temperature inside the mask.
Additional details can be found here: Technologies
10. What regulations do I need to consider when wearing a respirator?
When wearing a respirator, operating instructions and any corresponding national guidelines and regulations must be observed. In Germany, for example, BGR 190 is the relevant standard for the use of respiratory protection.
A brief overview of this can be found here: Standards/regulation
11. Which uvex safety goggles can be worn with a respirator?
The combination of respirator and uvex safety goggle models is determined by the wearer’s face shape. To make it easier for you to find the right match, we have carried out extensive wearability tests and summarised the results here: Eyewear-respiratory-combinations
12. Why does the mask require a sealing lip and adjustable nose clip?
The sealing lip and adjustable nose clip establish a close fit on the face, especially around the nose area. In addition to respirators with a sealed lip and nose clip, uvex also offers completely metal-free masks. These masks feature innovative 3D nose technology: a special ergonomic nose shape ensures that the mask still fits securely on the face even without a sealing lip – the advantage is that wearers do not need to worry about adjusting the nose clip.
13. What do MAK, OEL and TRK mean?
The occupation exposure limit (OEL) is the acceptable time-weighted average concentration of a hazardous substance in workplace air at which no acute or chronic harm is caused to employees’ health. In determining this limit, it is assumed that an employee would be exposed for eight hours per day, five days per week for the duration of their working life.
It is measured in mg/m³ and ml/m³ (ppm).
The OEL was introduced in Germany on 1 January 2005, alongside the revision of the Ordinance on Hazardous Substances (GefStoffV). It replaced the previous maximum workplace concentration (MAK) and technical recommended values (TRK). The previous MAK and/or TRK values can still be used to calculate the hazard level of a workplace until the OEL is integrated into all technical regulations.
The Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs defines the thresholds for Germany. The Committee on Hazardous Substances advises the ministry with regard to this. They calculate the OEL based on published criteria. The Committee tends to follow the recommendations of the German Research Foundation’s MAK committee and the indicative EU’s OEL values. The OEL values are published in the German Technical Rules for Hazardous Substances 900 (TRGS 900 – OELs). They were initially announced in the Federal Labour Gazette (Bundesarbeitsblatt, BArbBl), but since this publication ended, they are made public in the Joint Ministerial Gazette (Gemeinsamen Ministerialblatt, GMBl).
The air in a working environment will often contain multiple hazardous substances. However, compliance with OELs only protects employees if there is only one hazardous substance in the air. If there is a mixture of substances, the hazard to health is evaluated according to TRGS 402 – Identification and assessment of the risks from activities involving hazardous substances: inhalation exposure (TRGS 403 was repealed in July 2008).
If there is no OEL calculated according to TRGS 900 for a particular hazardous substance, TRGS 402 dictates that the exposure can be evaluated using the MAK value as calculated by the German Research Foundation, the indicative OEL value published by the EU, foreign exposure limits or the derived no-effect level (DNEL) set out in REACH (registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals) legislation. In bulletin 409 on hazardous materials (BekGS 409), it was stated that if the DNEL value for a substance is stricter than the currently valid OEL value as determined by the Committee on Hazardous Substances (AGS), this must be re-tested.
Furthermore, the EU’s Scientific Committee on Occupational Exposure Limits (SCOEL) and personal accident insurers make their own recommendations on OELs.
14. What is a CAS registry number?
The CAS registry number is an international standard identification system for chemical substances. Each chemical substance in the CAS database (which also contains bio sequences, alloys and polymers) has its own unique CAS registry number.