Northern California Wildfires: How to Protect Yourself From Smoke and Poor Air Quality

Posted on Friday, October 13th, 2017 by Mila Adamovica

The death toll from wildfires ravaging across Northern California has reached 23, and hundreds are reported missing. According to CNN, the director of Cal Fire, Ken Pimlott, expects the number of homes and businesses that have been destroyed to rise significantly from 3,500.


8,000 firefighters battling 22 small and large fires are challenged by low humidity and windy conditions in seven counties including Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino. The flames have and continue to consume everything that isn’t steel, concrete or brick. Hundreds of people are being treated at hospitals for fire-related injuries including burns, smoke inhalation, eye irritation, and shortness of breath.

Windy conditions are spreading clouds of smoke and ash around the Bay Area. Hazy skies from wildfires are causing poor air quality and health concerns. People living as far as San Mateo County and San Jose can smell the smoke in their neighborhoods. Air quality in San Francisco Bay Area is reported to be the worst it has been in the last 10 years. To reduce your exposure to smoke and ash, stay indoors as much as possible, and don’t go outside without wearing a respirator with an appropriate filter protection. We recommend Moldex 2300 N95 Particulate Respirator, 3M General Use N95 Respirator, and Moldex 2315 N99 Premium Respirator.

Check the Air Quality Index (AQI) by typing your zip code into Local Air Quality Conditions text box to see if you have to limit your time outdoors in your area because of the hazardous levels of air pollution. United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has assigned a specific color to each AQI category to make it easier for people to understand whether air pollution is reaching unhealthy levels in their community. The table below explains the color coding.

Air Quality Index (AQI)


Here are a few masks that are recommended for respiratory protection against smoke:

  1. The Moldex 2300 N95 Particulate Respirator is an inexpensive disposable mask with a unique Dura-mesh outer shell and an exhalation valve which facilitates the exchange of fresh air with each breath and prevents the buildup of moisture and heat, making it much more comfortable for wearing for the long periods of time.



  1. The 3M General Use N95 Respirator with Cool Flow Exhalation Valve offers easy exhalation for cool, dry comfort. An adjustable M nose-clip provides a custom fit and a secure seal.

3M respirator

  1. The Moldex 2315 N99 Premium Respirator is a disposable particulate respirator with the unique plastic mesh outer shell that holds its shape without metal nose clips. Added flame retardants help reduce shell flammability.

Moldex respirator

Call us 800-829-9580 if you need help finding the right respirator, or visit us online:


California fires: Searchers seek hundreds of missing 
The California wildfires, by the staggering numbers
Wildfire smoke and your health: Do you need to worry? 
What’s the Difference Between N95, N99, and P95 Air-Masks

Photo courtesy of CNN.



How We Develop Product Expertise at PK Safety

Posted on Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017 by Mila Adamovica

Continuous product innovation and increased functionality of the products we offer creates a need to continue to learn new information about the various top brand products we carry, and new products that hit the market. This helps our team remain experts in the industries we serve and allows our sales team to assist customers in determining what products they need for their specific application. Product knowledge is fundamental for our team’s success. We work with manufacturers to deliver highly effective product training – providing the latest and most relevant product information. Allegro Industries Regional Sales Manager, Mario Mendoza joined us for a great training in June 2017.

Highlights of the Allegro Industries Training

Allegro Industries is a valued brand we carry that consistently provides outstanding product training, solid products, great prices, and availability. They engineer and manufacture product systems within specific categories including powered air respirators, ventilation equipment, respiratory accessories, and confined space equipment. With his expertise and experience in the industry, Mario was able to describe and educate us about their product line and the latest product innovations in an easy-to-understand format. He featured the Ambient Air Pump A-750  and the Air Filtration Panel 9872  by Allegro.

Ambient Air Pump

We learned that low-pressure Ambient Air Pumps differ from Air Filtration units: they are electrically driven, oil-less compressors, and are usually placed in locations with fresh air, away from work areas. The Ambient Air Pump is designed for use with constant flow respirators only and does not have the psi or CFM capabilities to run a pressure demand respirator. Applications include spray painting, spray coating, fiberglass coating, pharmaceutical manufacturing, spray foam, chemical handling and mixing, pesticide operations, light grinding, medical facilities, foundries, building, construction, restoration. The Air Pumps do not require temperature alarms, CO monitors or airline filters, so they are considered a cost-effective way of providing air supply.

Air Filtration Panel

The portable Air Filtration Panel is engineered to convert air into Grade-D breathable air by filtering out impurities (particles, fumes, moisture, hydrocarbons). You may use NIOSH-approved constant flow and pressure–demand respirators with this panel. It is important to know that the best practice is not to mix an airline and a respirator from different manufacturers.

Allegro designs and manufactures their products for maximum convenience and ease of use in the field, which allows users to feel confident about the performance of the products they purchase. We are looking forward to their next product training in our office.

Building the expertise of our team has a positive effect on the PK Safety team’s performance, as it helps salespeople sync up with the latest market demands. We have strong connections with manufacturers. They provide excellent training on their products and explain what customers’ needs and solutions they provide. It’s not just a general PowerPoint presentation with some key features mentioned, but rather a live demonstration of the products, followed by a Q&A session to make sure everyone is up-to-date and can get clarification on product or application issues. At PK Safety, our sales and marketing teams participate in product learning sessions provided by the manufacturers’ representatives.

If someone from our sales team can’t make the live training, our video library is available to help them tap into the product knowledge base. Given the wide range and the complexity of the product lines that we sell, our sales team is provided with the opportunity to watch training videos that our marketing team records during product training sessions, so our new team members can reinforce their product knowledge, and our sales experts can brush up their product knowledge on-demand.

Learn more about the Allegro Industries products from our previous blog posts:

Allegro EZ AIR PAPR as a Complete System for Ultimate Worker Protection
Allegro Constant Flow Respiratory Protection
Allegro Venturi Blowers for Confined Space Ventilation
Complete PAPR Systems for Welders from Allegro


Need To Know About New OSHA Silica Dust Rules and Regulations?

Posted on Friday, August 4th, 2017 by Mila Adamovica

The U.S. Department of Labor first emphasized the life-threatening hazards of respirable crystalline silica in the 1930s. Today, according to OSHA, approximately 2.3 million Americans are exposed to silica on a regular basis in the workplace.

Heavy equipment operators, construction, and plaster/drywall workers are the most at risk to being exposed to silica. The most severe exposures to crystalline silica result from abrasive blasting. Additionally, exposures may occur in cement, brick, and asphalt pavement manufacturing, ceramic manufacturing, and the steel and foundry industries.

Inhaling silica dust causes silicosis and lung cancer. The symptoms of silicosis include shortness of breath, chest pain, and difficulty in breathing, however, this illness can show no symptoms for many years. These non-reversible lung diseases are the target of the new OSHA silica regulation.

3M Silica Dust Protection

On March 2016, OSHA issued a FINAL RULE to protect American workers, limiting their exposure to respirable crystalline silica.

Final Rule’s Key Provisions:

  • Sets a new PEL (permissible exposure limit) for respirable crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, over an 8-hour shift.
  • Requires employers to use engineering controls (such as water spray systems or ventilation) to limit workers exposure to the PEL; provide respirators when engineering controls are not able to eliminate exposure; limit worker access to high exposure areas; develop a written exposure control plan, and train workers on silica risks and on the ways to limit the exposure.
  •  Employers must support and provide the means for potentially highly exposed workers to obtain medical exams to monitor their health in relation to the exposure.

The final rule took effect on June 23, 2016. However, OSHA’s memorandum has delayed the enforcement of this rule in order to provide additional guidance for employers. The rule is comprised of two standards: one for Construction and one for General Industry and Maritime. These industries have 1-5 years to comply with the requirements according to the following schedule approved by OSHA:

  • Construction – September 23, 2017.
  • General Industry and Maritime – June 23, 2018.
  • Hydraulic Fracturing – June 23, 2018, for all provisions except Engineering Controls (a compliance date: June 23, 2021).

The implementation of this rule will prevent about 900 new cases of silicosis each year, and save 600 lives.

3M compiled a brief overview of means of respiratory protection against silica dust:

respiratory protection against silica dust


How do you know if you are providing enough protection? Talk to us at 800-829-9580 or visit us online We have PPE to help you protect your crew and keep your company compliant.

Silica Dust PPE



How to Choose a Respirator and Other Personal Protection for Painting Jobs

Posted on Monday, July 31st, 2017 by Mila Adamovica

Choosing the right respirator and protective clothing for your painting project depends on numerous factors. The most important being the type of paint that will be used (solvent-based, water-based or powder paint), and the kind of paint application you are going to use (spraying, airless spraying, roller painting, dip coating, brush painting). In addition to the painting process, personal protection is also helpful for the prepping stage of the project. When preparing surfaces for painting, cleaning and degreasing can expose you to numerous health risks. Along with the general protective measures, like working outside or in a well-ventilated area and covering up any exposed areas, wearing protective clothing and using personal protective equipment is extremely helpful.

The aerosol spray can was invented in 1927 by Erik Rotheim. Spray can insecticides were developed to protect US troops against malaria in the Pacific during the World War II. Today, more than one method of spray painting is used: air gun spraying, HVLP (High Volume Low Pressure), LVLP (Low Volume Low Pressure), electrostatic spray painting, air assisted airless spray guns, airless spray guns. These methods of painting are fantastic for paint jobs in the industrial sector, but they also create a toxic environment in the working area. You will need reliable well-fitted PPE to successfully complete your painting projects.

Personal Protection Must-Haves:

1. Respirator

What to look for in a respirator? First, verify that it is NIOSH–approved, then check its filter capacity, a level of comfort, and determine if you need a disposable or a reusable respirator. The type of filter you choose should be based on the type of paint you use, your application method, and your budget.

We recommend this hassle-free Premium Paint Respirator kit for pesticide and paint spray.

3M Premium Paint Respirator Kit

Premium Paint Respirator kit

Kit Includes a 3M 7500 series half mask respirator, a pair of 3M 6001 organic vapor cartridges, a box of 3M 5P71 P95 prefilters, and a pair of 3M 501 filter retainers. Add the alcohol-free cleaning wipes to your cart to make sure you are able to clean your respirator when needed. These wipes will not harm even the most sensitive parts of your respirator!

Read what our customers are saying about the benefits of buying the kit versus purchasing the items separately.

 “I like that they set up the kit for you based upon your needs. I am far from an expert in respirators but I could probably have figured out what I needed after hours of research and a few phone calls. In this case, I just called and they hooked me up in a few minutes with exactly what I needed for a competitive price and oh yeah, I actually don’t mind wearing the gear! It’s a great fit and very comfortable. I figure I saved at least $100 or more in time using them.”

 “I picked this up to replace an older, cheaper 2 canister respirator I had. The company that made it was bought by 3m and 3m no longer sold the canisters. I’m glad I upgraded. I picked the 7500 series over the next series down because of the soft silicone face piece. It is VERY comfortable. And PK has a part number which gets you all the necessary 3M parts to have a complete mask w/ dust pre filter. The first day I used it, a skunk had visited outside my shop, but the filters stopped even that odor, as well as the paint fumes :)”

2. Goggles

Eye protection is critical in maintaining safety at a job site. Commonly called “chemical splash goggles,” the Pyramex G204 Goggles are a great choice for painting jobs because they contain indirect vents to restrict the influx of liquids and a convenient elastic headband.

Pyramex G204 Goggles

Here is what one customer had to say about the product:

“If you are renovating, or demoing – these are a must have! They do an excellent job of protecting your eyes from falling debris or dust. We’re removing old plaster and lath, and these were a lifesaver. I looked a little like a mad scientist, but I wore them every day on site.”

If you are wearing prescription glasses, the most suitable option will be Pyramex Capstone Anti-Fog Safety Goggles with 100% polycarbonate, scratch-resistant lenses. The benefit of using them is that they have enough room to fit your prescription glasses. If you are painting outdoors, these goggles offer 99% protection from harmful UV rays.

Pyramex Capstone Anti-Fog Safety Goggles

Pyramex Capstone Anti-Fog Safety Goggles

Check out what a customer thought of these Goggles and the benefits they provide:

“I love these goggles. They fit perfectly over my prescription glasses. It has never fell down and won’t let anything in, except air to keep them from fogging up. These glasses are not costly at all and I’ve been searching forever. Hope they last a long time!”

3. Gloves

Hand protection is vital when you are performing painting either on a regular basis or just from time to time.

The Memphis 9688 Flex Tuff II Gloves are among the most popular safety gloves. They feature a breathable 10 gauge grey cotton/polyester knit shell, coated with a grey latex dip to provide a rough finish for better grip and wear. The gloves are made in the shape of a relaxed hand for extra comfort. These general purpose safety gloves are great for painting and demolition work.

Memphis 9688 Flex Tuff II Gloves

Memphis 9688 Flex Tuff II Gloves

Check out our customers’ feedback:

“Purchased these gloves for hazmat work and found them more versatile and comfortable to wear performing a host of projects. They are flexible and allow for far better dexterity than lesser gloves at many times the price.”

4. Protective Clothing

Protective clothing is an essential part of your protective gear. Disposable coverall suits are the best for any painting applications.

DuPont Tyvek Disposable Coverall 1414 Suit

This lightweight disposable Tyvek coverall features an attached hood, non-skid booties, and elastic wrist for the total body coverage. Wear it with a respirator and protective gloves to be completely covered. The suit can be used for asbestos removal, fiberglass insulation, painting, and insecticide application inside rafters.

DuPont Tyvek Disposable Coverall 1414 Suit

Check out our customers’ feedback:

“Works great! It’s thin, and you will sweat like crazy in a warm attic, but it works great and I am buying more to have around whenever I need to go into the attic. We also used it to paint the ceilings in our entire house with a spray gun.”

When it comes to your safety, you should always put it first. We have what you need to complete your painting project safely. To easily get in touch with us for some good advice, call us at 800-829-9580, or visit us online


  1. Rawlings Paints Blog
  2. PRV Engineering Blog
  3. Body Shop Business

Valuable Tips for Effective Mold Remediation

Posted on Wednesday, February 8th, 2017 by Mila Adamovica

Mold remediation is the process of removing mold and repairing mold-related damage in buildings. There are two important things to remember when dealing with mold: it is easier to prevent mold by controlling moisture and monitoring humidity levels; and when you face the mold danger, it is urgent that you take care of it immediately since it is harmful and is able to spread very fast. Studies have found that mold grows on materials that remain wet for 48 hours. A simple and easy way of preventing mold buildup is keeping moisture away by ventilating, ensuring there are no water leaks, and that the plumbing system is functioning well. Sinks, toilets, tubs, hot water heaters, roofs, and attics need to be checked for leaks. Windows and doors on exterior walls have to be tightly sealed. If the basement smells damp or musty, use a dehumidifier to prevent mold.

Why is Mold Dangerous?

People can be exposed to mold through skin contact, inhalation, or ingestion. The majority of fungal spores have aerodynamic diameters of 2–10 µm, which allows particles to be deposited in the respiratory system. Prolonged exposure to high levels of mold can cause hypersensitivity pneumonitis – an immune-mediated disease also known as woodworker’s lung, malt worker’s lung and farmer’s lung disease.

Guidelines of Mold Remediation

The Department of Health has developed guidelines for cleaning up mold contamination. The following 4 basic steps are necessary for quickly remediating mold problems:

Step 1: Perform mold growth assessment

First, calculate the extent of the contamination. Assessing mold growth involves more than just looking at what is visible: mold can be an invisible threat. Behind any mold growth there is a moisture problem. Identifying the source of moisture will help you locate all mold, not just what is visible. Next, repair water leaks to prevent new growth by addressing the moisture source: fixing the plumbing system or sealing the windows, doors, and roofs.

Step 2: Remediate mold contamination

Remediation involves cleaning up existing mold-infected areas while avoiding exposure to mold. Calculating the scope of contamination is necessary: DIY project is possible for Level 1 (up to 10 square feet) and Level 2 remediation (from 10 to 30 square feet). For contamination areas larger than 30 square feet, only mold remediation specialists are qualified to perform the cleanup.

Vacuuming with HEPA filter

Step 3: Cleanup

The cleanup process is the same for Level 1 and Level 2 mold remediation and consists of these 5 steps:

1. Repair the water problem.
2. Isolate the contaminated area.
3. Clean. The cleaning process for Level 1 differs from Level 2 at this point. For Level 1, it is enough to clean the area with a damp cloth and a detergent solution. Level 2 requires vacuuming all the surfaces with a HEPA vacuum and then cleaning all surfaces with a damp cloth. Remove all wet and mold-damaged porous materials and discard them in plastic bags that are at least 6 millimeters thick, tie the bags closed. Wipe the outside of the bags with a damp cloth and a detergent solution prior to leaving the contamination area, and dispose of them in a regular trash can.
4. Visibility test. All areas should be visibly free of contamination and debris — no dust and dirt means no mold.
5. Dry. Cleaned materials should be dried to allow leftover moisture to evaporate. To speed up the drying process, use fans, dehumidifiers, or raise the indoor air temperature.

Step 4: Determine if the cleanup has been successful. The fact that there is no visible dust or dirt does not mean that you are done with your mold remediation project. The final step is to check if there are still signs of mold-damaged materials or moldy odors.

Types of Equipment for Mold Remediation

Isolated Contaminated Area

Minimizing exposure to mold involves administrative and engineering controls, and using PPE.

Administrative controls include identifying and restricting access to mold-contaminated areas and minimizing aerosol-generating activities by suppressing dust.

Engineering controls include ventilating mold-contaminated areas and using heavy equipment with sealed positive pressure, air-conditioned cabs that contain filtered air recirculation units to protect workers.

The main purpose of PPE in a mold-contaminated environment is the prevention of the inhalation and the ingestion of mold spores and eliminating the possibility of mold contact with skin and eyes. The minimum personal protection equipment for mold remediation includes goggles without vents, a respirator, a coverall, and rubber gloves.

Skin Protection

Long gloves that extend to the middle of the forearm are recommended. When using the chlorine bleach or a strong cleaning solution, gloves made from natural rubber, neoprene, nitrile, polyurethane, or PVC are an ideal solution. When using a mild detergent or plain water, household rubber gloves can be used. Latex or non-latex medical examination gloves should be used if hands are likely to be in contact with infectious materials. The appropriate personal protective clothing (reusable or disposable) is recommended to minimize cross-contamination between work areas and clean areas. Tyvek coverall suits with attached hood and booties are perfect for mold remediation since they protect your whole body and are easy to put on and take off.

Eye Protection

Safety glasses or goggles with open vent holes are not a good choice for a mold remediation project. To protect eyes, a full face respirator or goggles designed to prevent the entry of small particles are needed.

Respiratory protection

The best respirators for mold remediation include full face and half mask models: an N-95 Respirator Mask, an N-99 Respirator Mask, an N-100 Respirator Mask, a half-face respirator, and a full-face respirator. Some of the most popular brands that offer good protection against mold are 3M and Moldex.

You also need additional equipment for your mold remediation project: a vacuum with a HEPA filter and large sheets of heavy plastic to tape over doorways and air vents to prevent the spread of mold spores to other areas of the building. A negative air machine is also recommended to help with removing airborne mold.

When it comes to mold, the key is to implement a comprehensive moisture management strategy. For more info go to:


3M Notice on the Breathe Easy Rubber Butyl Hood BE-10BR

Posted on Wednesday, December 7th, 2016 by Mila Adamovica

The BE-10BR Hood is designed to provide respiratory protection against certain particulates like dust, fumes, mists, radionuclide, asbestos, organic vapors, and inorganic gases. The butyl rubber hood offers resistance to certain chemical warfare agents. It meets Military Standard MIL-C-51251A for butyl.

In September 2016, 3M issued a User Advisory Notice regarding the Breathe Easy BE-10BR Rubber Butyl Hood, the purpose of which was to communicate the valve replacement requirement and the use and storage limitations that were defined by 3M while redesigning the hood. 3M established a 10-year maximum life for this product. When used beyond the 10-year shelf life or stored outside of the recommended temperature range, these hoods may not work properly because they are more likely to deteriorate. In this case, hoods must be replaced immediately.

For details, download the pdf version of this document: User Advisory Notice

To answer all the inquiries, 3M provided more explanation about why hoods older than 10 years need to be replaced in their second notice in November 2016. The recommended 10-year period was determined to be necessary after 3M inspected several BE-10BR hoods that were in service for different periods of time. A number of hoods that had been in use for over 10 years experienced deterioration of various components.

3M recommended the following action plan for the customers who choose to use the hood past the 10-year recommended shelf life:

1. Ensure that the product is being stored in accordance with the conditions specified in the user instructions.

2. Replace the over-pressure valve and valve holder assembly in the hood. Call 1-855-317-4203 and request a complimentary replacement valve and valve seat.

3. Carefully inspect the condition of the hood and all the components for signs of degradation.

To learn more, download the pdf: BE-10BR Notice

If you have questions, please give us a call at 1-800-829-9580, or visit us online at


Allegro EZ Air PAPR as a Complete System for Ultimate Worker Protection

Posted on Monday, October 10th, 2016 by Mila Adamovica

By Jim Moryan, Marketing Communications, Allegro Industries

Introducing EZ AIR Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR) as a Complete System for Ultimate Worker Protection by Allegro Industries

Workers will experience more comfort, less fatigue and improved productivity with the Allegro EZ AIR PAPR complete particulate system intended for industrial applications where respiratory, eye and face protection is required. The System features a motorized, Lithium-ion battery operating system that supplies a constant supply of fresh, filtered air over the user’s face. At an APF level of 25, it creates optimal protective pressure inside the respirator head top keeping away harmful gases, vapors, particulates, and fumes. Recommended applications are welding, assembly, facility maintenance, grinding, machine operations, painting, and sanding.

The Allegro EZ Air Deluxe PAPR System includes: a Welding Shield made of Dupont super tough, flame retardant Nylon that withstands extreme cold and heat, can accommodate safety glasses and comes equipped with the 9935-X81V ADF lens that is ANSI and CSA approved; a flame retardant shroud that covers the user’s ears, neck and back of head to prevent arc burns; a flexible 30” breathing tube with quick disconnect and FR cover; a Blower assembly with eight airflow settings, audible, visual and vibration alarms; a convenient single replacement NIOSH approved HEPA filter which filters 99.97% particulates; an adjustable and lightweight FR belt; a Battery Charger and Lithium-ion rechargeable battery with up to eight hours usage; and a Storage bag. Complete assembly weighs under 5 pounds.

The Allegro EZ Air Economy PAPR System includes all of the features of the Deluxe System but offers an ANSI and CSA approved 9935-X54V ADF lens that offers UV/1R protection up to shade 16 with a permanent outer coating to protect eyes. Both systems come with a 3-year warranty.

Ask our Sales team at PK Safety about accessory items for both helmets. They include Helmet Decals to customize the Welding Shield for a personal, unique look and Magnifier Lens (Diopters) for Shields. These magnifier lenses have a built-in magnifier lens holder. Simply slide the magnifying lens into the holder and it’s ready to use. Available in 4 different magnification strengths.

Allegro offers a comprehensive line of products and accessories for Welding and Grinding that include: EZ AIR PRO Shields and Helmets, Economy and Deluxe Supplied Air Shields, Helmets and Systems, replacement lenses, Hardhat Adapters, Browguards, Goggles, Portable Fume Extractor, Knee Pads, Storage options, Cooling Products and Lens Care items.

Allegro Industries

Follow Allegro Industries on social media to keep up to date with the latest literature, product updates, and introductions, updates in the industry and videos made available.

If you have questions or would like help selecting the right equipment for your application, please give PK Safety folks a call at 1-800-829-9580, or go to


Allegro Constant Flow Respiratory Protection

Posted on Wednesday, October 5th, 2016 by Mila Adamovica

Providing workers with clean breathable fresh air while working in dangerous environments is essential. According to OSHA, “Employees need to wear respirators whenever engineering and work practice control measures are not adequate to prevent atmospheric contamination at the worksite.” Respiratory protective devices must be approved by NIOSH for the contaminant to which the employee is exposed.

Advantages of Constant Flow Respirators:

  • Low cost
  • Reusable
  • Constant supply of fresh air
  • Low breathing resistance
  • Increased worker production
  • No cartridge change outs or having to schedule maintenance
  • No fit testing
  • Minimal paperwork to maintain
  • Air temperature controllers available
  • Pump and filtration panel options can be used with half mask, full face, soft and hard hood styles

If you have a job that involves spray painting, chemical handling or mixing, construction, spray foam application, or light grinding, here are two reliable solutions from Allegro to provide healthy air to you in the workplace:

1. Ambient Air Pump A-750 by Allegro

Ambient Air Pump A-750 by Allegro

Ambient Air Pump A-750 is a rotary vane, extra portable and lightweight air source for one hood user or for two full- or half-face respirator users. The benefit of this device being lightweight and portable is that it has the flexibility to be used at multiple sites, and be easily stored when not in use. Another advantage of this oil-less pump is that it does not produce any carbon monoxide, oil vapor or oil mist. Inlet and discharge filters need to be changed every 200 running hours or if the pressure gauge shows a drop in pressure. Carbon vanes should be replaced every 4000-5000 running hours.

Low-pressure ambient air pumps differ from air filtration units in that they are electrically driven, oil-less compressors–and are usually placed in locations with fresh air away from work areas. This pump is designed to move air through a hose to a breathing area. This is why it is important for the air inlet to be located where the breathable air is supplied at all times. Air delivery can be adjusted via the brass pressure relief valve. The steel handle offers protection for the pressure gauge in case the unit tips over. The device pumps the existing air but does not provide an independent air supply, that is why it is not recommended for use in extremely hot or cold environments, as the air temperature cannot be changed. The longer airline will help cool the air. Ambient Air Pumps are not intended to be used with generators, and Vortex coolers. Fittings for other brands respirators can be swapped out for free.

The ambient air pump is only designed for use with constant flow respirators and does not have the psi or CFM capabilities to run a pressure demand respirator. It is not approved for an IDLH (Immediate Danger to Life and Health) application. Respirators receive air from an ambient air pump that draws in fresh air from wherever it is located and sends it to the respirator. The pump should be located away from any area where vehicles may pass by or stop and stay idle. In can be used in medical facilities while mixing chemicals or cleaning the rooms, in pesticide operations when handling chemicals and spraying, in foundries, etc.

Other possible applications include: spray painting, spray coating, fiberglass coating, pharmaceutical manufacturing, spray foam, chemical handling and mixing, pesticide operations, light grinding, medical facilities, foundries, building, construction, restoration. When placed in a clean air environment, pumps offer a low-cost alternative of supplying clean, breathable air to respirator wearers working in contaminated environments. Air pumps do not require temperature alarms, CO monitors or airline filters, so they are considered to be a cost-effective way of providing air supply.

2. Air Filtration Panel 9872 by Allegro

Air Filtration Panel 9872 by Allegro

Air Filtration Panel 9872 filters out impurities (most particles, fumes, moisture, hydrocarbons) from an air compressor and converts it into the grade D breathable air. The panel provides up to 30 CFM of air within a 5-125 PSI range. It is housed in a Pelican case with a carrying handle and latches and offers a 16 gauge powder-coated steel stand for support, and all-brass plumbing with quick-disconnect Hansen couplers. You may use NIOSH-approved constant flow and pressure–demand respirators with this panel. However, it is important to know that you cannot mix an airline and a respirator from different manufacturers. Most types of compressors (piston, screw, rotary vane) are suitable to supply air for this type of application. On the inlet side, you can use a pre-filter to filter out larger particles. On a discharge side, you may use an Allegro Vortex cooler or a temperature controller, when used with the Allegro Fully Disposable Hoods. There is an optional Remote CO alarm (P/N 9871-01), a remote Point of Attachment (P/N 9871-03), which will extend the airline length. The maximum length of breathing airline is up to 300 feet.

Wearing respiratory protection may seem inconvenient, but airborne particles and contaminants – no matter how small – can cause both short-term and long-term health problems if proper use and care are not exercised.

If you have questions or would like help selecting the right equipment for your application, please give us a call at 1-800-829-9580, or visit us online at


North By Honeywell Respiratory Protection

Posted on Tuesday, September 27th, 2016 by Mila Adamovica

Respiratory protection is required when there is a potential for a harmful agent to get into your lungs. According to the U.S. Labor Department, an estimated 5 million workers are required to wear respirators in 1.3 million workplaces throughout the United States.

Respirators must be properly selected and fitted to provide the best protection to the users. Using filters and cartridges, alone or in combination, these devices can remove contaminants from the air, supplying clean respirable air. Depending on the type of respirator, devices can remove contaminants from the air or supply clean respirable air from another source.

Each working environment is unique, and should always be evaluated by a certified safety professional to determine the appropriate respiratory solution for the application. Alternatives may be a manufacturer’s representative or a trained safety sales person. Workers can file a complaint to have OSHA inspect their workplace if they think that their employer is not following OSHA standards.

North® Respiratory Protection

North by Honeywell provides superior respiratory protection from life-threatening hazards at workplaces. North-branded products are well-known for their excellent performance and high quality.

Here is a list of our most popular North by Honeywell respiratory protection devices:

1. North 7700 Series Silicone Half Mask


North 7700 Series Silicone Half Mask is considered to be a benchmark in half masks. The wide sealing area, made from 100 percent medical grade silicone, provides exceptional fit and comfort. Cradle suspension’s woven straps offer maximum mobility without sacrificing support. It is NIOSH-certified for use with North N Series filters and cartridges.

2. North 5400 Series Full Facepiece


High quality, economically priced North 5400 Series Full Facepiece accepts all standard North filters and cartridges, including those for welding applications. With a full face mask, all the air in contact with your face and eyes has been filtered. Also, the lens is impact resistant, so no need for safety glasses. If you wear prescription glasses, an adapter is available. Key features include a lens with a 200-degree field of vision, excellent downward view angles, and a wide sealing area.

3. North 5500 Half Mask Assembly with 2 P100 Filters 5580P100


North 5500 Half Mask Assembly with 2 P100 Filters 5580P100 is engineered to protect workers against solid or liquid particulates. This includes most common lead and asbestos applications, such as contractors removing old window and door frames that may contain lead paint.

This is an economical option that still provides many of the same features found in premium masks: upper head straps have minimum give to provide secure support; various thickness in sealing area for improved comfort and support, and wide contoured sealing area for great fit.

4. North 5500 Half Mask Filter-Cartridge Combo 5501N95


North 5500 Half Mask Filter-Cartridge Combo 5501N95 comes complete with N75001L cartridges for organic vapors, and N95 filters for non-oil dust/mist protection. Usually referred to as a paint and pesticide respirator, it is effective when spraying latex paint, brushing oil-based paints, and using most common pesticides.

5. North RU8500 Half Masks

North® RU8500 Series Half Masks

North RU8500 reusable half mask with a speech diaphragm providing a better speech clarity is a redesign of the Sperian Survivair Blue 1™ half mask. It is NIOSH-approved and compatible with North N-Series cartridges, filters, and cartridge/filter combinations. A dual sealing flange is a key feature that ensures excellent facepiece seal. The North RU8500 comes with an option of either a standard industrial exhalation valve cover or a diverter exhalation valve cover.

If you are one of the folks that are lost in the process of selecting the right respirator for your project, here is a simple guide in a flow chart format that will help you find your perfect respiratory protection device. Click to enlarge the flow chart.

Flow Chart

If you have questions about the right respiratory protection for your specific application, please contact one of PK Safety Customer Service experts at 800-829-9580, or visit


Quantitative Versus Qualitative Respirator Fit Test

Posted on Friday, September 9th, 2016 by Mila Adamovica

By Benjamin Gomez, Marketing Associate, Mobile Health

If you work in the nursing, manufacturing, construction or other industries commonly affected by airborne hazards, you’re probably familiar with the respirator fit test.

Simply put, a respirator fit test is a test that will show if a tight-fitting respirator can be worn by a person without having any leaks. The test must be done using the exact same respirator that a worker is expected to wear on the job, and if the worker needs to wear glasses or other protection while wearing the respirator, they must also wear them during the test.

Generally, respirators are either categorized as loose-fitting or tight-fitting. Because tight-fitting respirators can’t protect you unless they fit, they’re held to tougher standards. OSHA demands respirator fit testing only on tight-fitting respirators, and those respirators that don’t rely on a tight seal around a person’s face do not require testing. But just because you know what one is, do you know which one your employees will need?

Qualitative vs. Quantitative Respirator Fit Test

There are two main types of respirator fit tests. Respirator fit tests are either qualitative or quantitative. Here are the differences between the two types of respirator fit tests.


  • Pass/Fail Test
  • Uses sense of taste/smell or reaction to irritant to detect leaks
  • Does not measure amount of air leaking into face piece
  • Test subject detects leakage of test substance
  • Mostly for half-mask respirators like N95 face masks
  • 4 methods accepted by OSHA:
    o Isoamyl Acetate- smells like bananas
    o Saccharin- tastes sweet
    o Bitrex- tastes bitter
    o Irritant Smoke- causes coughing


  • Uses a machine to measure actual amount of leakage into face piece
  • No taste or smell test used to detect leakage
  • Can be used for any tight fitting respirator
  • Mostly used for full face respirators
  • 3 methods accepted by OSHA:
    o Generated Aerosol,
    o Ambient Aerosol,
    o Controlled Negative Pressure

Final Respirator Fit Thoughts

Respirator fit tests must be taken before a worker wears a mask for the first time. The worker must also take the fit test every year after that. Fit tests must also be taken if there are changes to a person’s face that could change the fit of the respirator. These changes can include things like:

  • weight change that changes their face
  • dental work
  • face surgery
  • face scarring

While respirator fit tests may be easy to lose track of, it is an important element in OSHA compliance. Even more than that, the respirator fit test is an important tool in keeping your employees healthy and safe from environmental hazards. Should you like to know more about the specifics of respirator fit testing, the OSHA website is a great resource.

Visit to learn more about respirator fit tests.

Check out our previous post to find out more about respirator fit tests: How To Conduct a Respirator Fit Test For Your Company


What Respirator Is Right For You?

Posted on Friday, June 17th, 2016 by Analisa H.

When it comes to choosing the right respirator or dust mask, it all comes down to the job you’re trying to tackle. To be safe, you should always consider using a respirator if you’ll be exposed to biological contaminants, dusts, mists, fumes, and gases, or oxygen-deficient atmospheres according to OSHA.

There are two types of respirators: air-purifying respirators and atmosphere-supplying respirators. Air-purifying respirators use filters, cartridges, or canisters to remove contaminants from the air. Atmosphere-supplying respirators provide clean air from an uncontaminated source.

Below are a few respirators we recommend based on the job you plan to use them for and the types of contaminants you’ll likely face.


The Moldex 7000 Half Mask Respirator and 7640 Cartridge Combination provides multi-hazard protection especially when doing yard work, home remodeling and cleaning, or hobbies involving sawdust, paint, chemical odors, or other debris and small particles. It complies with NIOSH standards and OSHA regulations.

Lead & Asbestos Removal

When seeking protection against asbestos, lead and cadmium dusts, we suggest the 3M 6000 Lead & Asbestos Respirator Combination. It’s ideal for use at indoor shooting ranges, when welding, working on older heating vents/ducts, ‘popcorn’ ceilings, automotive break linings or pip insulation.

Mold Remediation

The Moldex 9000 Full Face Respirator Combination may be fit for you if you want protection against the following: asbestos, mold, ammonia, chlorine (bleach), chlorine dioxide, hydrogen chloride, hydrogen fluoride, hydrogen sulfide, methylamine, organic vapors, sulfur dioxide, and formaldehyde.

Additional safety tips involving respirators:

  • Replace When Needed – Follow suggested instructions on doing so, especially for disposable respirators. If it becomes difficult to breathe, there’s the possibility that the filters could be clogged. Respirators, filters or canisters that are dirty or damaged should just be thrown away.
  • Smells – Change filters if you notice any changes in smells and/or tastes, or if your skin or lungs become irritated. If your skin continues to stay irritated after changing the filters, check out our previous blog post on choosing respirators geared towards those with sensitive skin.
  • Keep facial hair short – Sporting a full beard while wearing a respirator can be problematic for most respirators. Long facial hair can limit the effectiveness of a respirator’s seal to the face. You will need to consider a full hood or helmet system like the Allegro EZ Air Pro PAPR system.
  • Don’t just rely on the respirator – Be sure to work in a well-ventilated area when possible to help minimize airborne contaminants. To help ventilate a confined space, try one of the top selling ventilators we carry.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 800-829-9580, or visit us online at, and follow us @PKSafetySupply.


Welding in a Confined Space – How to Ventilate Properly

Posted on Friday, November 13th, 2015 by Administrator

Construction welders regularly need to enter confined spaces in boilers, tanks, or pressure vessels to perform repairs or during the manufacturing process. Both MIG welding and TIG welding use inert gas that’s heavier than air and that has the potential to displace oxygen and create a major hazard for the welder.

Because of the inadequate ventilation of confined spaces, the heavy gas has the potential to literally submerge a worker. And because it’s colorless and tasteless, it’s easy to miss until you really have a problem.


To avoid a very regrettable displacement of your oxygen supply, you’re going to need to ventilate. One of the simple systems we sell are the ECKO K2025 Confined Space Blower, Duct and Canister. This is an 8 inch blower/ventilator that’s attached to canister that holds 25 ft. of flexible ducting to direct the airflow. The blower and canister are made of durable, lightweight, dent- and chemically-resistant polyethylene. Durable enough for the types of jagged edge locations where welders often find themselves.

ECKO Confined Space Blower, Ducting and Canister K2025

Generally speaking, supplied air ventilation, or the act of pushing clean air into a confined space, will provide better results than trying to pull the bad air out. Though requirements differ by state and country, a complete air refreshment of 7 times per hour is standard. To accomplish this, you’ll need to know not only the size of the space you’re about to work in, but also the CFM rating of your ventilator. CFM stands for cubic feet per minute. Us the chart below by drawing a straight line from the size of your space to the capacity of your blower, and you’ll have a good idea of how much time you’ll need to purge the area of foul air.

If you have questions about confined space ventilation, please don’t hesitate to give us a ring at 1-800-892-9580.


Complete PAPR Systems for Welders from Allegro

Posted on Thursday, September 17th, 2015 by Justin McCarter

Allegro has added a new line of affordable Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR) systems for welders and other industrial workers who need both eye and face protection as well as a quality respirator. The EZ Air Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR) series provides outstanding protection from welding and other fumes and vapors without the need for fit testing.

You, professional welders, need protection from dust, steel, manganese, stainless steel, chromium, galvanized steel, cadmium, lead, ozone, and all that bad stuff, but you’re not going to be a great at your job for long if you can’t see. The face shield in the EZ Air Economy PAPR System 9935 complies with ANSI Z87.1+ for face-shield/eye protection and is NIOSH approved. This system provides the cool comfort you need in tight spots to stay at the job until it’s done.

A motorized system powered by a lightweight Lithium-ion battery provides a constant supply of fresh, filtered air over the user’s face. The system (APF 25) requires no fit testing as the pump provides positive air pressure around the face.

The Allegro EZ Air Pro Blue Welding Helmet PAPR System 9934-W has dual HEPA filters for long-lasting protection in very dirty and dangerous enviornments. Recommended applications include welding, assembly, facility maintenance, grinding, machine operations, painting, metal production and fabrication, military maintenance, repair and operation (MRO), and any heavy-duty sanding projects you might have.

If you have specific questions about your application, please don’t hesitate to call our experts at 800-829-9580 during regular West Coast business hours.


What You Need to Know About MERS

Posted on Wednesday, June 17th, 2015 by Alastar Kerpel

What is MERS?
The acronym stands for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome also known as Camel Flu. You may also see the abbreviation MERS-CoV referring to MERS Coronavirus (the virus itself). The virus is zoonotic, spreading between camels and humans directly and indirectly. The virus spreads through an infected person’s respiratory secretions, such as through coughing. 150 people have contracted MERS and 16 people have subsequently died since a new outbreak in South Korea last month. Though typically found in Arabian Peninsula countries, travel related cases have emerged in 16 other countries. About 3 to 4 in 10 infected people have died from MERS.

What are the symptoms?
Symptoms appear within 2 to 14 days after exposure though generally take place in 5 to 6 days. The most common symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Less common are gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea and nausea or vomiting. Severe complications include pneumonia and kidney failure. Not everyone who carries MERS will develop symptoms.

Which countries have confirmed MERS cases?
Arabian Peninsula countries with cases: Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Jordan, Kuwait, Yemen, Lebanon, and Iran.
Countries with travel-associated cases: United Kingdom (UK), France, Tunisia, Italy, Malaysia, Philippines, Greece, Egypt, United States of America (USA), Netherlands, Algeria, Austria, Turkey, Germany, Republic of Korea, and China.

How can I stay protected?

There currently isn’t a vaccine for MERS-CoV however you can reduce your risk of infection by using these practices in areas known to be at risk for MERS exposure:

  • If you may come in contact with an infected person, use a half-mask air purifying respirator (e.g., a US NIOSH-approved N95 filtering facepiece respirator [FFR] or a European EN-approved FFP2 or FFP3 filtering facepiece respirator). Our two most popular respirators for MERS protection are the 3M 8210 particulate respirator and the 3M 8210 particulate respirator for smaller faces.
  • Regularly wash your hands with soap or hand sanitizer. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects, such as doorknobs. Don’t share cups, utensils or other items with sick people.

The CDC continues to monitor the situation and doesn’t recommend changing plans to travel to the Middle East or other places where the virus has been reported. If you develop symptoms such as those mentioned above within 14 days after traveling to countries in or near the Arabian Peninsula you should call your healthcare provider and inform them of your symptoms and recent travel. While sick, stay home or in an isolated environment to reduce the risk of spreading the illness to others.


SCBA Systems Need Ongoing Preventive Maintenance

Posted on Friday, May 29th, 2015 by Administrator

SCBA, or self-contained breathing apparatus, is critical for areas where the atmosphere just isn’t fit to breath. Confined space workers and firefighters both utilize this equipment. But what happens when that equipment fails? If you are like a DeKalb Georgia firefighter in the news lately, you jump out of a second-story window.

Firefighters say the problem with the Draeger equipment has been ongoing and the most recent malfunction is part of an ongoing problem. Draeger, on the other hand, and perhaps not surprisingly, says the problem is with the DeKalb County fire department and their maintenance of the SCBA equipment. They even produced a video saying it wasn’t their fault.

NIOSH recently released the results of their tests of the equipment and agreed with Draeger that lack of preventive maintenance was to blame in the event in Georgia.

So what are keys to keeping your SCBA equipment functioning properly? In this case, the facepieces and regulators submitted to NIOSH testing both failed the pressure tests because of dirt on the exhalation valves.

SCBA gear is often subjected to really dirty environments. Dirt, grime, soot, sludge, all have to be cleaned from the mask, hoses, and tanks on a regular basis. Check you manual, but most manufacturers recommend you first remove the filters, cartridges and tanks, then take the respirator mask apart by removing diaphragms and air hoses. Remember to inspect as you go and replace any broken or defective parts.

All the parts should be washed in warm water with a mild soap or detergent. Any dirt or contaminants that may have collected on the respirator gear needs to be scrubbed or otherwise washed away. Once everything has been washed, rinse the equipment with clean water.

Another option is ultrasonic cleaning where pieces of the SCBA system are submerged in a special tank where ultrasonic frequencies create bubbles that can get into even the smallest crevices and seams to remove all dirt or carbon residue. Once the ultrasonic has run its course, dry the equipment using an air dryer or a lint-free towel.

If you have any questions about SCBA equipment, maintenance, or any other aspects confined space safety, please don’t hesitate to call or contact us online at


Industrial SCBA in Refrigeration Plants

Posted on Thursday, May 14th, 2015 by Justin McCarter

Companies that have significant stores of ammonia or even waste treatment plants with chlorine run the risk of serious hazards if things go from all is normal to all heck breaking loose. Refrigeration plant operators, supervisors, and facility managers are all aware of the dangers, but in the heat of the moment well-placed safety equipment can make all the difference.

Most folks who work in an ice or refrigeration plant or other facilities that store, use, or create byproducts of hazardous chemicals know where the exit doors are. Self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA equipment) are part of the safety program for all these locations, but placement of the SCBA wall cases is almost as important as the units themselves.

These are exit-only units. Unless you are part of a team that is specifically tasked with entry and rescue, these SCBA units need to be located in the heart of the facility strategically placed moving outward from the deepest, most inaccessible areas that are serviced by repairmen and operators.

30-minute tanks on units like the Draeger PAS Lite SCBA are going to be sucked dry well before the 30 minutes has elapsed when the plant is looking like a Die Hard movie set. Well-marked exit corridors will help when there is a cloud of hazardous gas wafting around. (I’m guessing here as I haven’t personally been in a cloud of chlorine gas with a tank strapped to my back, but I really think it’s true.)

If you have questions about SCBA wall hanging units or compliance SCBA units give our Customer Service Experts a call at 800-829-9580. They haven’t been in a toxic gas cloud either, but they know the regulations and best practices backward and forward.

Thanks for reading. Stay safe.


SCBA and Supplied Air Respirators for Confined Space Entry

Posted on Friday, April 10th, 2015 by Administrator

Some confined spaces just aren’t fit to breath in. Respiratory protection, whether for work in a space with Immediate Danger to Life and Health (IDLH) or in a rescue operation where air filtering or purifying respirators are not an option, has two critical requirements: First, it must provide a clean air supply. Secondly, it cannot interfere with safe entry and exit from the space. The two types of breathing devices that fit these requirements are a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) or a supplied air respirator (SAR). Both SCBA and SAR have inherent limitations to their designs that are important to take into account when figuring out the right protection for your team.

SAR systems require the entrant to carry an escape bottle of air in the event of a failure of the airline or the external air supply. These bottles typically last for 5 or 10 minutes, and sometimes much less if the person is breathing hard. Additionally, there are limitations on how long an air hose can be, and the pressure must be regulated to make sure the user is receiving a proper air flow.

The good thing about SAR systems is that they have an almost unlimited supply of air once the worker is safely at the work site.

SCBA systems, on the other hand, have very finite supplies of air. Typically they come in 30-, 45-, or 60-minute tanks and just like the emergency tank on the SAR, they can be drained quickly if the user is exerting themselves physically or under stress. SCBA systems are also fairly bulky and can inhibit entry into confined spaces with narrow openings.

Whichever system your team chooses, make sure they know everything that can go wrong. IDLH and emergencies are the worst times to find out new limitations of your equipment.

If you have any questions about SCBA or SAR systems, please give our folks in customer service a call at 800-829-9580.


Oxygen-Rich Environment Safety

Posted on Friday, March 6th, 2015 by Administrator

For an oxygen-rich atmosphere, it’s important to always make sure that gases expelled from the confined space through ventilation do not come into contact with internal combustion engines, flames or other sources of ignition that may cause an explosion or accelerate burning.

Ventilation of highly oxygenated spaces can cause firesWhile this might seem obvious, it is sometimes overlooked in the rush to clear a confined space and make it safe for entry.

When sizing up a potential confined space for entry, also be aware of where you are placing the atmospheric contents of that space, and think carefully about how they may affect the area they are ventilated toward.


Venting Paint and Varnish Fumes – Best Blowers

Posted on Monday, February 16th, 2015 by Justin McCarter

As a guy who has lost a fair amount of brain cells to paint and varnish vapors I know better than most that many projects aren’t properly ventilated. (Yes I called them paint and varnish fumes in the title because that’s what folks search for. Fumes are heated solid particles – think burning metal. Vapors are gaseous. I haven’t lost all my brain cells.) That being said, there are some jobs that even I know have to have a fresh air source.

Ventilation for painting and varnishing

Respirators are great, but in an environment with heavy vapors from paint or varnish, they can quickly be overwhelmed. Respirator cartridges are like sponges. Sponges can’t hold all the water in the sink. Likewise, cartridges are great at whisking away some of the organic vapor released when painting, but they can’t overcome heavy concentrations. If your job doesn’t have proper air flow, you can quickly find yourself breathing in air that is highly toxic.

The solution is ventilation. And it can be a pretty straight-forward operation. The Allegro 8 in. blower with built in ducting and canister 9533-25 can be quickly deployed, has heavy-duty, reinforced ducting, and delivers a massive amount of fresh air where you need it or to push bad air out of the area. On the sites I’ve worked in, an air conditioning filter was often employed over the air intake point (typically on the far side of the space from the blower). The contaminated air was pushed out by the blower, and the filter served to keep the incoming air free from particles that could ruin your paint or varnish work.

The 8 inch blower moves just over 830 cubic feet per minute (CFM) when deployed in a straight line (without any bends in the ducting). If a space with significantly greater volume needs to be cleared, Allegro also makes a 12 inch blower with ducting and canister. The 12 inch model moves over 1800 CFM in the same configuration.

If you are painting in an enclosed space, you need to ventilate. Don’t fool yourself into thinking it’s a quick job and you’ll be out of there soon. We all know it never happens as quickly as we’d like it to. And damage to lungs and brain cells is serious and lasting business.


Best Respirator Combo for that Decaying Human Corpse Smell

Posted on Wednesday, January 7th, 2015 by Justin McCarter

At PK Safety we’re here to help. There are lots of different jobs out there, and they all have their special requirements. This week we had a couple questions that hadn’t come up before. A new customer asked: I am looking for a mask that will greatly assist in preventing the odor of a decaying human body. As a Justice of the Peace I am called to perform inquests on deceased persons that may have been demised for an extended period of time. What do you recommend?

Best respirator for working with carcasses

Great question! And just the kind of thing to change up our work week. This is much more interesting that How Often Do I Need to Calibrate My Gas Monitor or When Do SRLs Need to be Inspected. And it was followed in the same week with this question: I am working with a carcass and bones which smell very bad. I would like to buy some kind of mask/respirator which can absorb such bad odor so that I can work comfortably for a long time.

First of all, “decaying human body”  has the be the definition of an organic vapor. And that’s exactly what the 3M 6001 Organic Vapor Cartridges get rid of. Granted, it’s probably not the 3M target hazard, but it will definitely work.

To get rid of strong smells like rotting flesh, you need activated charcoal. When air is pulled over the activated charcoal in the cartridge (or filter, which we’ll describe in a bit) the vapors are caught by the charcoal. The charcoal acts like a sponge removing the offending odors before they reach the nose. But like a sponge, it has a maximum amount it’s able to absorb.

Depending on the length of exposure, a disposable respirator or dust mask with a layer of activated charcoal might be sufficient. The Moldex N95 2400 mask (which comes in a box of 10) is perfect if your exposure to the decaying flesh isn’t terribly long, say less than an hour. The second person who wrote in that they were working with a carcass “for a long time” will likely need the cartridges, and will want to invest in the 3M 7500 Series half-face respirator mask.

While the 3M 6000 Series mask is cheaper, the 7500 is made from silicon and is much softer and more comfortable when wearing for a long period of time. So if your interaction with the formerly alive is extensive, by all means, go with the 7500. Whether you’re working with zombies, rotting carcasses, or the permanently deceased, we’ve got the respirator protection you need.

Photo credit: Gene Page / AMC



Full and Half-Face Respirator Mask from Moldex

Posted on Monday, January 5th, 2015 by Justin McCarter

Ebola was exciting wasn’t it? I’m not talking about the terrible disease that some African countries are still struggling with. I’m talking about those amazing news reports getting everybody all whipped up. While we talked about basic precautions against the more likely scenarios, we are not the largest news agency in the world (shocking, I know). Now we are overstocked on some of our best respirators, and if you haven’t added them to your Walking Dead safety kit, or you just need great lung protection, now is a great time to pick up Moldex full-face and half-face respirators.

Moldex 9000 Full-Face Mask

The reusable Moldex 9000 full-face respirator is great for a range of projects and work sites. Not only does it offer a comfortable face seal and lung protection, but also makes jobs with flying particulate matter easier to deal with. Filtered air breathed in first hits the lens of the mask. This smart design helps keep fogging to a minimum. The lens offers an excellent field of vision and is scratch resistant.

The full-face 9000 has design simplicity. Very few parts, so overall maintenance is simple. The face opening is large so getting the mask on and off is simple, and the strap buckles are durable and made for rugged use. For a great Moldex Full-Face Respirator video, click here.

Cartridges and filters from Moldex fit both the 9000 Full-Face Mask and the 7000 Half-Face Mask which makes ordering for the whole team easier if you are using both styles at your facility.

The 7000 Half-Face Mask is low-profile, lightweight, and has a comfortable face seal for long-term wear. For convenient storage the mask can drop down around the neck or be easily adjusted for a secure fit on a wide variety of face shapes and sizes. The adjustable head cradle provides added comfort. Because the Moldex half-face mask has such a low profile, it’s ideal for fitting under welding helmets and comfortable to wear with safety glasses.

Both of these models are well-priced and provide outstanding value as well as protection. If you’re looking for a quality alternative to the higher priced 3M respirators, Moldex is a great way to go.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call our experts at 1-800-829-9580.




What Does P100 Mean?

Posted on Monday, December 15th, 2014 by Justin McCarter

Respirator filters are rated according to how much particulate matter they can reliably block. A P100 rating is the highest for personal respiratory protection. As long as your mask fits properly a P100 filter will block 99.9% of particles .3 microns or larger. (If you’re interested in the nitty-gritty the CDC has a comprehensive and fairly unreadable guide to particulate respirators.)

What Does P100 Mean?

In defense of the CDC, there are a huge range of hazards, and not everyone can wax poetic about lung protection like the folks at PK Safety. We recently had a question about using a P100 filter for blocking asbestos, which as most folks know, is particularly hazardous. Their question was about the 60923 Organic Vapor/Acid Gas Combo. If you type in P100 filter, it’s one of those items that comes up in a Google search.

Yes, this type of combo filter/cartridge does meet P100 requirements. But it’s not the kind of thing that’s right for everyone. If you’re looking for an all-in-one solution that blocks the widest range of hazards, the 3M 60926 Multi-Gas P100 Cartridge generally covers more bases. But most people have at least a pretty good idea of what they’re going up against, and only in specific circumstances to they need protection from Acid Gas.

If you’ve got flying particles of dangerous substances – fiberglass dust, sanded or chipped lead paint, asbestos, that kind of nasty stuff, a simple 3M 2091 filter is rated P100 and provides all the protection you could want. If you have strong smells or vapors from paint or certain solvents that are hazardous, then something like the 60926 Multi-Gas Combo might fit the bill. It has two parts: One is the P100 filter that’s under the pink cover. The second is a cartridge of activated charcoal that absorbs vapors.

A final note on the combo cartridge – people use these because they are convenient. They protect you from a range of hazards. However, if the filters get clogged before the cartridge is spent, you have to toss them out. There is no way to change out the filter and keep the cartridge. And vice-versa. If you start smelling the things you’re trying to block, the cartridge is done for even though the filter might still be fine.

How do you know when the filter is spent? Great question. The answer is you will no longer be able to breath through it. P100 filters are amazing. They block all these particles and only allow air and the tiniest particles through that your lungs can easily handle. When the filters get full of all the material they have been blocking, they don’t start to let it in. It simply becomes more and more difficult to draw a breath through.

For asbestos you can’t do better than anything rated P100. The only question is whether or not you need the additional protection from the cartridges.

If your main mission is to block asbestos but there are also some smells that aren’t as specific and hazardous as, say, bleach or ammonia, you might want to consider the 3M 2097. This is the full-sized filter and has a layer of activated charcoal to remove some organic vapor and bad smells from the air you’re breathing.

My advice for asbestos – 3M 2097 with a good 3M 7500 Series Half Face Mask. It fits the best and is comfortable for long work days. And I don’t know of many quick asbestos clean-up jobs.


How To Clean Your Respirator

Posted on Monday, November 3rd, 2014 by Justin McCarter

Yes, people do actually clean their respirators. And it’s a good idea for you to do it too. Not only can some bad microbial monsters take up residence in an unclean respirator, but clogged air intake and exhalation valves may cause your respirator to stop functioning as it should.

Cleaning Your Respirator

There are a range of respirators available, some full-face, some half-face, but they all share common characteristics. Remember, we’re not talking about disposable respirators (aka dust masks) – those things get dirty, you just chuck ’em. No, we’re talking here about reusable plastic or silicon respirators that have replaceable filters and cartridges.

(Some of you are now thinking: I wonder when I should change those cartridges. Click on the link to find out.)

Cleaning your respirator isn’t complicated. After pulling off your filters or cartridges (a simple counter-clockwise quarter turn is usually all it takes) let your respirator soak in warm, soapy water for a short while. These units are made to be easily cleaned and most dirt and grime isn’t able to maintain a firm hold. Even paint and varnish will eventually give up the fight with some soft scrubbing using a sponge or mildly abrasive scrubby.

Be careful not to push too hard on the valves as they are made of less durable material and can be damaged. Once your mask has been cleaned, let it air dry before putting the cartridges or filters back on. This will keep any water from being trapped and starting a little mold farm in your mask.

For everyday cleaning, I’d recommend the Allegro Respirator Cleaning Wipes. These handy-wipes come in individual pouches that can be kept in a tool box or locker. They are perfect for keeping your mask sanitized and fresh. Simply wipe down the inside of the mask with the towelette making sure to get the valves as well as possible. The active ingredient Benzalkonium Chloride acts as a disinfectant as well as a microbial corrosion inhibition. Nothing says clean like Benzalkonium Chloride! It’s also mild enough that it won’t damage even the most sensitive parts of your lung protection.

For a more heavy duty cleaning, or if you have multiple respirators to launder, you’ll want to upgrade to the Allegro Respirator Cleaning Kit. This system comes with a large 17-quart, two-sided bucket, ninety 1/2 oz. packets of water-soluble cleaner, an air bulb for getting into the nooks and crannies, a brush for scrubbing off the big stuff, and 100 sterile storage bags and seals. This kit also meets OSHA recommendations for respirator cleaning, and who doesn’t like to be compliant?

No matter what method of cleaning you use, the important factor is consistency. Have a schedule and stick to it. Regular wiping and periodic cleaning is recommended to keep your respirator in good condition. A properly serviced respirator, like all tools, is more dependable. If you have questions about any of these respirator cleaning products, please give us a call at 1-800-829-9580.

Thanks for reading. Stay clean (and classy).


Fit Testing Critical for Hospital Worker Protection

Posted on Monday, October 20th, 2014 by Justin McCarter

Protection from the Ebola virus continues to dominate the news. More agencies and individuals are discussing full-face and half-face respirators as solutions for care givers. But without proper fit testing, these masks may not be as effective as a towel held over your nose.

Respirators Must Be Fit Test To Be Sure They Are Protecting

Fit testing for respirators requires some specialized equipment as well as an understanding of how respirators protect the lungs. The equipment consists of a hood that goes over the person wearing the respirator, and a nebulizer that allows the administrator to deliver a mist with a specific smell to the air around the respirator. Stated simply, if the person can smell the mist, the mask does not fit properly.

Fit testing is the only way to really know if a respirator is working properly. But even before testing begins, there are some things to know about creating the proper seal around the nose and mouth. First, if you have a Duck Dynasty beard, standard respirators will not work. Even stubble can get in the way of a proper seal.

Testing respirators for fit and effectiveness requires methodical application. It’s not fun. It’s time consuming, and you look ridiculous while the test is being administered. Before the Ebola virus came to everyone’s attention, fit testing was only regularly administered by the largest companies and hospitals. Now it’s becoming increasingly common for small companies and individuals trying to increase their protection against infectious disease to administer these tests.

For a better understanding of how to check your masks, read our earlier post on How to Administer a Respirator Fit Test. Kits like the 3M Fit Test and Training Unit will provide instructions not only about how to administer the test, but how to explain proper respirator use, cleaning, and storage of your respirators to your employees or other members of your team.

Another important item to remember about proper fit with half-face and full-face respirators is that they often come in different sizes. Medium masks typically fit 80% of people, so you should only start testing with a smaller or larger mask if your past experiences with glasses and hats lead you to believe you are in the 10% either much larger or much smaller than average folks. Different manufacturers also fit people differently. If you find 3M masks don’t fit well or don’t provide optimal comfort, try a Moldex mask or other maker to see if the fit improves.

If you have questions about application or which fit test is best for your company, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 1-800-829-9580.


Silent and Deadly, Proper Gas Detection Saves Lives

Posted on Monday, September 15th, 2014 by admin

I’m fascinated about the basics of atmospheric monitoring, how to change the air in a confined space by supplying ventilation, and effective uses of ducting. Aren’t you? Relying solely on your nose (no matter how magnificent it may be) is not the right method to detect airborne hazards. Many gases dull the senses over time, and only a proper gas detection unit with a test probe can properly asses the atmosphere of a confined space.

com-pax-ial blower

The shape and location of many confined spaces make them more likely to retain dangerous atmospheres.  Confined spaces are also relatively difficult to ventilate and require specific procedures to properly cycle the air and make it safe for workers to conduct maintenance or inspection.  Oxygen deficient or oxygen enriched atmospheres are a hazard in confined spaces, as are other flammable or toxic gases that may settle in the confined space, or result from the work being completed within them.

Because many of the dangerous gases are heavier or lighter or even the same as air, rescuers should use gas monitors with a remote probe to test the space in at least three levels: the top, middle and bottom levels of the space. A gas monitor with an internal pump or a monitor and hand pump with tubing should be utilized to test the different levels of each of these atmospheric zones.  Methane is an example of a lighter-than-air gas, and will generally rise to the upper limits of a confined space; carbon monoxide is almost the same as air and so can collect in the middle of a tank or silo, and hydrogen sulfide is an example of a dangerous gas that is heavier than air and can pool in the bottom of a confined work area.

To ventilate a confined space, axial fans which force air to move parallel to the shaft are ideal.  The fan used should be intrinsically safe, meaning it is designed so all electrical and thermal energy remains low enough that ignition of flammable or combustible gases cannot occur.  The fan should also be properly grounded.

To make a confined space safe for workers to enter, the goal of ventilation is to turn the air over as many times as possible pushing out the unsafe air and replacing it with a breathable atmosphere.

The easiest way to provide fresh air to a confined space is to force air into the area by “supply ventilation”, also known as “positive-pressure ventilation”.  Ducting must be of a correct length to ventilate all parts of the confined space.  Ducting that is too short runs the risk of forcing some, but not all the toxic fumes from a space.  The air being forced in creates currents that keep lower atmospheres in place.  This is known as a short circuit.

In a deeper space, longer ducting will be more effective.  When supplying air for ventilation, be especially mindful that you aren’t re-circulating the bad air back into the confined space.  This occurs when the hazardous air leaving the space is picked up by the fan and again forced into the space.  To prevent recirculation of contaminated air, position the fan intake upwind of the confined space entry point.  Also consider using additional ducting on the intake side of the fan to move the air supply further from the entry point. For more information on specific ventilation products, visit

Another effective technique to aid in removing air from a confined space is to open any additional ports or openings in the silo or tank while ventilating – even small ones will help – to allow the air inside the space to escape.

Once several complete cycles of fresh air have been determined to have entered the confined space, retest with your gas monitor to ensure no short circuit of airflow has occurred.  Once inside the space, workers should continue to monitor the air, especially if welding or activities that may produce dangerous atmospheres are being performed.  If an alarm sounds, workers should leave the area immediately, and reassess the confined space atmosphere from a safe distance.


Lead Dust Protective Gear for Fishermen Melting Lead

Posted on Wednesday, September 10th, 2014 by Justin McCarter

There are many types of fishermen out there. You’ve got your novice line-tanglers, commercial long liners, bass addicts, deep sea cigarette smokers, ticklers, ice fishermen, bow and arrow types. And while many folks like to fish, there are some anglers who operate further out in the deep end. I’m talking specifically about that special, dedicated breed of fisherman who make their own lead weights and jigs.

Protect your lungs when working with lead

To make these fishing accessories lead from old tire weights and other sources is melted down and poured into molds. It’s not a terribly difficult process, but it does raise some safety concerns. For instance the lead isn’t typically very pure or clean. This doesn’t particularly matter to the fish, but it does provide some challenges for our advanced angler.

We recently had a question on our website asking us to cover lead protection in greater detail. Our customer asked “I am an avid fisherman and make my own lead jigs known as “shad darts” for a spring run fish I enjoy pursuing each year. Can you advise what would be the safest mask, filters, gloves and clothing to use when melting lead and pouring into the dart molds I have. Also, do you sell any respiratory masks that would filter out vinyl paint fumes? I also use this type of paint to color the jigs and darts I make because they do not chip easily. The vinyl paint has a nasty odor and I am aware that, like lead, it is also hazardous. Any help would be appreciated.”

Great questions, and excellent awareness of the potential problems associated with this type of operation. Before beginning the process or donning protective gear, the first order of business is providing good ventilation for the project. Melting your lead outside, in a garage with the door open, or at the very least in a room with a fan helping to clear the air is a must. Outside is preferable. Cooking down and melting lead will give off fumes that must be prevented from entering the lungs. In addition to the metal fumes, the grease, grime, and oil that may be on the lead will create smoke and other particulate matter. Then there’s the smell.

The beginnings of a solution for protecting the lungs is finding a way to filter the particulates. The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) recommend respirators with an N-100, R-100, or P-100 rating. The 100 is the important thing. Also sometimes referred to as HEPA filters, they are designed to block 99.99% of particles down to 0.03 microns. Lead particles and fumes will definitely be blocked by this filter as long as the mask is fit properly.

While you can get N100 disposable masks such as the 3M 8233 Particulate Respirator, also known as the 3M Lead Dust Mask, it’s been my experience that disposable masks rarely provide the same level of face seal as the reusable masks like the 3M 6000 series or 7500 series half face respirators. The 6000 series is less expensive but the 7500 series is much more comfortable and is made of 100% silicon which allows for easier clean-up.

If you were only dealing with lead dust, there are several good mask combos for sale including the 3M 6000 Half Mask Lead Dust Respirator Combination, the 3M 7500 Lead Dust Respirator Combination or the very good and less expensive Moldex 7940 P100 Filter and 7000 Respirator Combination. The 3M options both feature P100 filters protected by a plastic cover. This may be important if your lead splatters or splashes. Hot metal can burn holes in material filters and render them useless at the least appropriate time.

If you’re looking for something that will filter out bad smells that may come from melting lead or, as our customer requested, to use for the painting portion of his project, the 3M 60921 Organic Vapor Cartridge with pre-filter combo provides excellent all-around protection. The sealed pre-filter keeps out the fumes from the lead. Organic vapors from the paint are blocked by the activated charcoal inside the cartridge.

One quick note about the 60921 cartridges. These are fairly expensive. People always ask us how often they need to be replaced. The answer is it depends. You can use them until you either smell the paint or metal fumes through the mask (in which case the activated charcoal in the cartridges has finally been overwhelmed) or until you find it difficult to draw a breath (in which case the filters have been clogged). Either way you’ll know it’s time to change them out. You can extend the life of the activated charcoal in the cartridges by storing them in a ziplock bag when you’re not using the respirator.

I don’t honestly know how hot your tools get when working with the molten lead. I have seen videos of guys using regular welding gloves to pour and work with the molds, weights, and jigs. What concerns me is that when you’re working with the lead you’ll inevitably accumulate lead dust, shavings, and splash on your gloves. It seems like a better idea to get rid of your gloves after you’ve used them for casting lead. The trick is finding a glove that is inexpensive enough to dispose of after use, but that still provides adequate protection. The MCR Safety Flex 9688 gloves might fit the bill. They have a latex-dipped palm and fingers which will help with any residual heat on the jigs or with hot tools. At $1.50 a pair, they are not terribly expensive. The Towa PowerGrab Thermo Insulated Gloves would be a nice upgrade. A leather-palm work glove like the MCR Memphis 1200S is an economy option.

For clothing, a disposable Tyvek suit like the Tyvek 1412 is a good idea. Inexpensive and disposable. Again, the dust isn’t something you want around. If you put your clothing in the wash with your other clothes you can really create quite a problem. It can really make you sick. One more tip – when you order your Tyvek suit, get it one size larger than you would normally wear. It won’t tear out so easily when you move around doing your work.

Finally, always wear safety glasses. Models like the Pyramex Mini Z-Tek glasses are smart, inexpensive additions to your personal protective equipment. You’ve only got one set of eyes and even a single drop of water in the lead will make it splatter. Simple goggles work well too. Consider the comfortable Pyramex G704T Chemical Splash Goggles for this type of work.

I hope these suggestions give you a better idea what safety equipment you need to stay protected when you’re working with lead. If you have additional questions feel free to leave a comment and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible. You can also give our customer service folks a call at 1-800-829-9580. Thanks for reading.


September 5th is National N95 Respirator Day! (get it? N95…9/5…)

Posted on Friday, September 5th, 2014 by admin

Hooray hooray it’s respirator day! There are so many to thank, air borne pathogens, asbestos and lead, don’t forget those sneaky little unseen particulates, and especially the CDC for all their hard work in making this happen. Without them, well, the N95 face mask would be just another underutilized tool in the fight to keep people safe and healthy. I’m sure that if Superman ever needed a mask (not for breathing or even a disguise, mind you. Those glasses and hairstyle are clearly a genius disguise) then this is the one he’d choose.1500_Surgery_Room-2-L

Have you been chomping at the bit to say your piece about the N95? The CDC will be hosting several different events on social media so get ready to log in and let it out!


NIOSH will be on Twitter at 2pm EST today; @NIOSH and @NPPTL are going to be hosting the non-industry specific chat about best practices. Leading the discussion will be the Director of the NIOSH National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory, Dr. Maryann D’Alessandro. Search for #N95Chat on Twitter to join in.


The focus of the webinar this year is the healthcare industry. There will be a three person panel discussing protection programs, their importance and the impact on healthcare workers. To register for the NIOSH webinar on 9/5 go to Respirator Preparedness in Healthcare: Where Technology Meets Good Practices.


The NIOSH blogs from 2012 and 2013 are also a good refresher for anyone looking for more information on the N95 and guidelines.

PK Safety has a blog too. Of course you know this (how else would you be reading this right now?) You can always access it through – at the bottom of the page under About Us, just click Blog and away you go. Incidentally, I highly recommend you check out these videos, click here, we’re serious about safety here at PK Safety Supply, it’s literally our middle name.


You can catch NIOSH on Facebook any time. While you’re there – don’t forget to like PK Safety Supply on Facebook too! You’ll find product specials, blog highlights, videos and cartoons. Yes cartoons, but safe cartoons, so you will still be able to say you’re working.


How To Conduct a Respirator Fit Test For Your Company

Posted on Monday, August 18th, 2014 by Justin McCarter

Things were easier when you were a small company. You may have been able to skip requirements like fit testing your employees for respirators. But no longer. As companies grow in size, so does the scrutiny they receive from regulatory agencies like OSHA. The good news is fit testing isn’t complicated, and by following a few simple tips for scheduling and administering the test, you’ll be done with the bare minimum of disruption to your business. You may even have improved it.

How to Administer a Respirator Fit Test for Your Company

First of all you’ll need a fit test kit. Both 3M and Allegro have deluxe kits that contain everything you need to make sure the face seals of your chosen respirators are working properly. The Allegro Saccharin Fit Test Kit features a hood, two vials of test solution, and an automatic fit test pump which delivers the fit test solutions at appropriate intervals. If you’ve never done a fit test before, or if you have new administrators working with you, this may be a good idea. While spraying the solution into the test hood at the appropriate times is not difficult, an automatic pump does take this important aspect of the test out of the hands of the administrator.

The 3M Training and Fit Test Kit has the same equipment as the Allegro kit, except it comes with manual nebulizers for spraying the test solution. It is also a training kit, so it contains laminated cards with helpful photos to aid in teaching employees how to properly wear and care for their equipment. Both brands will come with detailed instructions on the steps required for giving the fit tests. While your first test participants may take you a few minutes longer, you’ll soon be moving down your checklist with ease. For scheduling purposes, allow 10-15 minutes per worker to complete the testing.

If you’ve tested employees for respirator fit before, you may not need the additional information that comes with the 3M Training Kit, and a simple kit may suffice for your needs. The kits come with either the sweet saccharin solution or in a kit with a bitter test solution (commonly referred to under the commercial name Bitrex). Some employees may not have a sensitivity to either the bitter or the sweet solutions, so it’s a good idea to have both on hand when performing your tests. Replacement test and sensitivity solutions for both brands in either bitter or sweet can be found on our site.

The fit testing exercise can be helpful to your company in other ways. It ensures your workers know about and have been issued appropriate respiratory protection. It also maintains your OSHA compliance because your company provides a work place where respirators are necessary and it can also help you complete your office employee files.

Use the fit test requirement as a time to go over your employee files. Make sure all their paperwork is in order. If additional information is needed, this is the perfect time to collect it. When preparing for your fit test, make sure to send out the mandatory OSHA respirator medical questionnaire for employees to fill out in advance. This will make the intake process much faster. Also plan to have blank copies on hand for the employees who forget or are less computer savvy.


OSHA Respirator Fit Testing for a Large Organization

Posted on Wednesday, March 19th, 2014 by Justin McCarter

Fit testing your company employees for respirators can be thought of the same way the Chinese symbol for crisis incorporates the characters for danger as well as opportunity. Sure there’s a chance for things to get completely messed up. Done incorrectly, your fit testing might result in long lines of employees standing idle for hours which would be embarrassing for the fit test administrator and bad for the bottom line. If you are in charge of fit testing for a large organization like a hospital or government agency, it might make the nightly news. Heck, you might go viral!

Tips for Fit Testing Large Groups

With great power comes great responsibility and fit testing provides the opportunity not only to provide workers with properly fitting lung protection, but also to update and improve worker files and review company-wide information.

Respirator fit testing for a large number of people requires forethought, planning, endurance, and a large supply of saccharine solution. Whether your organization is a government branch, a construction site, a fertilizer plant, or just a company with lots of flying particles, fit testing sizable groups of people requires communication and planning.

The 3M Bitrex Fit Test and Allegro Saccharin Kits are very similar. As a general rule, the testing takes about 10-15 minutes for each participant. Depending on the number of people being tested, multiple administrative staff may be required. By properly staffing the fit test stations you can help increase the flow of intake and testing. Get them in, get them out, and get on with your lives!

Sending out the mandatory OSHA respirator medical questionnaire in advance is another time-saving measure which will keep the process moving along. Whether you’re testing a dozen people or a staff the size of a small country, it’s a good idea to have people sign up and schedule their fit testing. This way only a manageable number of employees are away from their jobs at one time. You might also find it helpful to check with supervisors to determine if there are better times for certain departments to report for testing.

Communication is key. If email isn’t available to reach all staff members, as may be the case with some large-scale construction projects, make sure sign-up sheets are highly visible. Have questionnaires available both at the sign-up location, and at the first stage of intake for the tests. Schedule additional time for that remarkably large section of employees who will inevitably forget. As the saying goes, plant your corn early. (Maybe that’s not a saying.) In any event, clear, ongoing communication about the process, and reasonable expectations for the time it will take to move through testing for all employees will decrease the danger of poor execution and increase your opportunity to complete your fit testing and update other required office requirements with a minimum of stress and distraction.

If you need help administering your fit tests, you are on your own. But if you need information or supplies, we are certainly here for you. Simply call us at 1-800-829-9580, or contact us online at Monday through Friday 6am till 5pm PST.


How To Tell If Your Respirator Mask Fits

Posted on Monday, February 24th, 2014 by Justin McCarter

We get two questions about respirators more often than all other questions combined. People want to know what size mask to order, and they want to know how they can be sure the mask is fitting properly. Because these are such common questions, you’d think we’d have a quick and easy answer for each of them. But each question has some variables, and it’s not so easy. Here’s what you need to know to make sure your respirator mask fits correctly.

How to make sure your respirator fits right

For this discussion we will limit the scope to reusable masks like the 3M 7500 Series Half Face Mask or the Moldex 7000 Series Masks. Both of these manufacturers produce different size masks. But because the shape of people’s faces vary so widely, there is not a standardized size (4 inches across and 5 inches high, for example). Moldex and 3M both operate under the belief that most faces are about the same size. 80% of people fit the Medium size in these masks.

For the 10% on either side of that middle range, with either a larger or smaller face, we generally say those folks will have a good idea about their face size because of previous experience with hats and sunglasses.

What we are trying to achieve with a properly fitting respirator mask is the elimination of gaps around the face seal. When you breath in, you want all the air coming through your filters or cartridges. The only real way to know if your mask is fitting properly is to perform a fit test. OSHA requires employers to verify the masks they provide are properly fit. However in practice it’s most often only the larger companies that administer fit tests for their employees.

In practice, people test them unscientifically by taking the cartridges or filters off and putting the palms of their hands over the air intake holes and breathing in. If you’re still able to take in air (so the thinking goes) there are gaps in the seal that will also let bad air in while working. Obviously this isn’t as effective as a properly administered fit test. But it’s better than no checking at all.

If you have the right cartridges, and you are still smelling the odor, fumes, or vapors you are attempting to block, you obviously don’t have a properly fitting mask. People generally find they fit one manufacturer better than another because of slight variations in design. If you’re not having luck with your 3M mask, consider trying a Moldex mask or something from another manufacturer.

If you have questions about your respirator, or your future respirator, remember we are here to help.


Respirators Help Avoid OSHA Penalties

Posted on Monday, January 27th, 2014 by Justin McCarter

Number 4 on OSHA’s Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards is Respiratory Protection. OSHA aims to control the occupational diseases and medical ailments caused by breathing air containing harmful “dusts, fogs, fumes, mists, gases, smokes, sprays, or vapors.”

When permanent engineering solutions are not available to clear the air workers breath, ventilation systems or specific respirator masks need to be employed. Appropriate respirators must be provided to employees by the employer. That’s from section 1910.134(a)(2) (if you’re interested). Those respirators need to be suitable to protect worker’s lungs against the hazards of the specific work site. That means the employer needs to know what dangers are present.

Here are a couple of common solutions to these problems:

Employers Can Avoid OSHA Citations

First is the air-purifying respirator. These respirators create an air-tight seal on the face and users pull air through a filter, cartridge, or canister that removes air contaminants such as particles or vapors.

Atmosphere-supplying respirators bring clean air to the worker, or the worker carries a supply with them. Examples include supplied-air respirators (SAR) such as the Allegro 1-Worker Airline Respirator System which pumps air from a clean air environment through a hose into a mask the worker can wear in an area with contamination.

These SAR masks have some disadvantages – pulling a hose around, and limited range among them. But they also have tremendous upsides. The air is as clean as the area it is drawn from. It’s also a positive-pressure system. Cartridges don’t become overwhelmed, and filters don’t become clogged.

For emergency situations, self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) allow workers or emergency responders to bring clean air with them into dangerous atmospheres. They are limited in their capacity and therefore their scope, but they do provide extreme mobility for the time allowed by the air in the tank. These tanks have a demand regulator which supplies air to the facepiece only when inhalation causes negative pressure within a mask. This serves to conserve and regulate the amount of air coming into the mask.

Another respirator that can be critical in some work environments is the escape-only respirator. These units are also called Emergency Escape Breathing Apparatus (EEBA) and are intended as a short-term, emergency exit breathing device (as the name might suggest).

Whichever solutions you choose, make sure it is appropriate to your work site and the dangers it contains. If you have questions about the appropriate solution to your site atmospheric challenges, please call us at 1-800-829-9580.


How Often Should You Replace Your Dust Mask?

Posted on Wednesday, November 20th, 2013 by Justin McCarter

First of all, a dust mask is has a single strap that goes over the head and provides very little protection from particles and debris in the air. They’re also called nuisance dust masks and they’re best used for mild applications like leaf blowing and general household dust protection. Dust masks just don’t provide a good face seal and they protect about as well as nose hair, which is to say not that well. Replace them when they look dirty or after about 8 hours of wear. Honestly they’re not doing much anyway, so it won’t matter.

When to Get Rid of Disposable Respirators

What we sell for actual lung protection are disposable respirators. I know it sounds like we’re a little prickly about this topic. We just want people to be protected. Disposable respirators, unlike a basic dust mask, can do a very good job of keeping harmful particulate matter out of the lungs if they are worn properly and not past their useful life.

A good rule of thumb for replacing your disposable respirators is to change them out when they are soiled, damaged, or if breathing becomes difficult. The smart people over at Moldex have made some progress in finding ways to keep masks from getting dirty. One thing that happens all the time on a job site is the masks get dirty as soon as you set them down. Moldex makes disposable respirators with an exterior lightweight plastic mesh that helps to keep the actual filter material from contact with dirty surfaces. These masks come in the Moldex 2200 model which doesn’t have a breathing valve, or the Moldex 2300 model which does have the exhalation valve. The valve helps to keep the wearer a bit cooler over long periods of working in the mask.

Breathing in a disposable respirator can become difficult if the filter material becomes clogged. That’s another main reason to change them out. Again Moldex figured out a good solution to this problem by simply creating more surface area. The Moldex AirWave has an accordion surface that both keeps it from getting too dirty, and provides more actual filter material covering the face so it takes more for it to become clogged.

Damaged dust masks or disposable respirators need to be replaced. They have a job to do, and if they have a big hole in them, it’s going to let in the things you are trying to keep out. What happens more often is one of the straps breaks. Sometimes you can fix them. Most often you can’t.

One other thing to think about is germs. Don’t share dust masks. Most people don’t like to do that anyway. But even if your disposable respirator (or dust mask, if you’re still using one after this article) seems good after more than a day, change it out anyway. Many disposable respirators have anti-microbial surfaces, but over time they can start to be a home to germs. Change them out after 8-10 hours even if they’re not dirty.

If you have more questions about lung protection or respirators, we can talk about this stuff all day. Please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 1-800-829-9580 or contact us online at


What is the Best Respirator For Terrible Smells?

Posted on Wednesday, September 25th, 2013 by Justin McCarter

A city worker recently wrote to find out which respirator would filter out the strong smells at the landfills best. He writes, “I work for sanitation in NYC. Sometimes I have to bring the garbage to landfills and dump it out the back of my truck. I am stepping in waste – horrible smelling – especially in the summer when the sun hits it. Rotten eggs, food, diapers, blood, cleaning chemicals, and sometimes dead animal bodies. What should I use that would mask out these smells? Should I consider a full mask or is a half-face mask okay?”

Which Respirator Works Best at the Landfill

First of all, that is quite a list. The smell almost comes through the computer. I can see why he’s looking for something to block that special aroma. For lower levels of organic vapors, I’d recommend a smaller, disposable respirator such as the Moldex 2400 N95 mask. This is a comfortable disposable respirator with an exhalation vent and a layer of activated carbon to block what are known as nuisance levels of ozone and organic vapor.

But let’s face it, sun-baked diapers and dead animals are not what I’d call nuisance-level smells. Not only disgusting, but potentially dangerous, the air containing this combo-pack of organic vapors will need to travel over more surface area of the activated carbon to be scrubbed of the stench. We recommend the 3M 6001 Organic Vapor Cartridges which will get rid of a wide range of odors and are approved by The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to protect against vapors from solvents, pesticides, and other noxious odors.

For work of a fairly short duration, attaching these cartridges to the inexpensive 3M 6000 Series half-face mask is suitable. If you need to spend more time, or even if you just prefer to be more comfortable while you work, the soft-silicon 7500 Series masks, also from 3M, conforms to the contours of a variety of face shapes better, and therefore generally creates a better seal. It’s also far more comfortable over the long haul.

The fit of the respirator is important because any air that doesn’t come through the cartridges is clearly not going to be filtered, and won’t have the benefit of all that nice absorption of the unpleasant odors you’re trying to get rid of.

We recommend the half-face masks to protect against most organic vapors because generally, in and of themselves, they don’t pose a risk to the eyes. We always believe protective eyewear should be worn at all times while working. But the types of risks spelled out in our reader’s response to our blog on choosing the right respirator cartridge didn’t mention the types of dangers where we usually recommend full-face respirator protection such as mold remediation or work with asbestos.

If you have more questions about which respirator is right for you, please give us a call or visit us online at


Which is the Best Respirator for Painting and Boat Repair?

Posted on Thursday, September 12th, 2013 by Justin McCarter

I’ve been restoring an old fiberglass sailing dinghy, and find I’m working with a wide range of highly toxic paints, solvents, and bonding agents. It’s interesting that something as natural and non-polluting as sailing requires the use of so many noxious products to keep the boat afloat. And it’s not only because I work for a safety company, but because I honestly believe using the best possible respirator for painting is essential when working on projects like this.

What's the Best Respirator for Painting and Boat Repair?

When we started, I expected the repairs would take a few weeks of work in the evenings. But as one part of the boat started to improve, the rest seemed to pale by comparison, and soon I was involved in an eight-month odyssey of fiberglass, epoxy, solvent, and paint.

As work began on the damaged fiberglass hull, I used a respirator to block the airborne particles from getting in my lungs. I didn’t use gloves because I know from past experience that a little dust on my hands and arms doesn’t really bother me much. But I know it affects people differently, and many folks like to cover up entirely, wearing not only gloves, but a disposable Tyvek suit or a long sleeve shirt, pants, and a hat.

Once the wet work began, I was cutting fiberglass mat and working with two-part epoxy every day. For me, that’s when it’s time to get serious. My 3M 7500 series half-face mask with organic vapor cartridges (3M 6001) keeps the vapors from the epoxy getting through and damaging my nervous system and giving me headaches. On top of the cartridges I added a prefilter. This is what keeps the clouds of fiberglass particles from getting to me. I use a 3M 5P71 prefilter that blocks 95% of airborne particles. The prefilters are held in place by a retainer.

This set-up is sold as a kit under the name 3M Pesticide & Paint Respirator. It comes with a box of ten of the prefilters.

The Best Respirator for Painting and Boat Work

I may have gone overboard here.

As work progressed, I did need to replace those filters. It’s pretty easy to know when to replace both cartridges and filters. If you find it difficult to suck in a breath, you’re either woefully out of shape, or your filters are clogged (possibly both).

When the cartridges have absorbed all the organic vapor they can hold in their activated charcoal, the vapors will start making it past them, and you’ll smell what you’re trying to block even when your mask is fitting just right.

One little note about the cartridges: Don’t leave them in the area you are working in. They will wear out more quickly. To preserve the cartridges, simply pull them off and put them in a plastic zip-lock bag. Or if the mask is fairly clean and not covered in smelly paint or solvents, put the whole mask in a bag. This gets the cartridges out of the air and doesn’t allow them to absorb more vapor while they are not being used.

Once the fiberglass work and the endless sanding had been completed, we sanded the entire hull. For this type of work, even though I wear prescription glasses, I always make sure to put on wrap-around safety glasses.

For paint we used a regular one-part enamel. Not as toxic as the two-part epoxy paints, but respirators were definitely still necessary. Because she has a small face, I found a Moldex half-face respirator fit best. We used the Moldex 7000 series mask in the small size for her both because of the cost (less than $10 at the time of writing), but also because the fit was very good for her shape of face.

This is really important. Faces are different. You may find one brand does not fit as well as another. If you have to buy two masks, it might be worth while buying two different brands experimenting with the different masks produced by the various manufacturers will you find the one that suits you the best.

Again with her mask, we used an organic vapor cartridge with prefilters. And like the 3M, Moldex has a kit available. The Moldex Multi-Purpose Respirator is actually even better than the 3M in that it has a HEPA P100 prefilter. This blocks 99.97% of all particles down to the ridiculously small .3 microns and is more than a match for any dust or particulate matter this project is going to send our way.

I will say, my personal preference is always for the 3M 7500 series mask because of the soft silicon construction. It’s softer, and is far more comfortable over extended periods of time. And believe me, I’ve been wearing it for extended periods during this project. Close inspection of the picture above will show that I am wearing her respirator, and she mine. What can I say? She liked mine better.


How Often Should You Replace Your Dust Mask?

Posted on Monday, July 29th, 2013 by Justin McCarter

First of all, a dust mask is has a single strap that goes over the head and provides very little protection from particles and debris in the air. They’re also called nuisance dust masks and they’re best used for mild applications like leaf blowing and general household dust protection. Dust masks just don’t provide a good face seal and they protect about as well as nose hair, which is to say not that well. Replace them when they look dirty or after about 8 hours of wear. Honestly they’re not doing much anyway, so it won’t matter.

When to Replace Your Disposable Resirator

What we sell for actual lung protection are disposable respirators. I know it sounds like we’re a little prickly about this topic. We just want people to be protected. Disposable respirators, unlike a basic dust mask, can do a very good job of keeping harmful particulate matter out of the lungs if they are worn properly and not past their useful life.

A good rule of thumb for replacing your disposable respirators is to change them out when they are soiled, damaged, or if breathing becomes difficult. The smart people over at Moldex have made some progress in finding ways to keep masks from getting dirty. One thing that happens all the time on a job site is the masks get dirty as soon as you set them down. Moldex makes disposable respirators with an exterior lightweight plastic mesh that helps to keep the actual filter material from contact with dirty surfaces. These masks come in the Moldex 2200 model which doesn’t have a breathing valve, or the Moldex 2300 model which does have the exhalation valve. The valve helps to keep the wearer a bit cooler over long periods of working in the mask.

Breathing in a disposable respirator can become difficult if the filter material becomes clogged. That’s another main reason to change them out. Again Moldex figured out a good solution to this problem by simply creating more surface area. The Moldex AirWave has an accordion surface that both keeps it from getting too dirty, and provides more actual filter material covering the face so it takes more for it to become clogged.

Damaged dust masks or disposable respirators need to be replaced. They have a job to do, and if they have a big hole in them, it’s going to let in the things you are trying to keep out. What happens more often is one of the straps breaks. Sometimes you can fix them. Most often you can’t.

One other thing to think about is germs. Don’t share dust masks. Most people don’t like to do that anyway. But even if your disposable respirator (or dust mask, if you’re still using one after this article) seems good after more than a day, change it out anyway. Many disposable respirators have anti-microbial surfaces, but over time they can start to be a home to germs. Change them out after 8-10 hours even if they’re not dirty.

If you have more questions about lung protection or respirators, we can talk about this stuff all day. Please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 1-800-829-9580 or contact us online at


What is the Best Protection From Lead Dust?

Posted on Wednesday, May 8th, 2013 by Justin McCarter

A customer recently wrote to us asking about protection from lead dust. Here is his question, and our response: Lead Weights for Fishing

I have been melting lead wheel weights as well as other sources of lead for fishing weights (bouncing Betty’s) as small as 1 oz and as big as 2 #’s – also round downrigger weights from 1#, 2# ,4#, 5#, 7#, & 10#, and 10,12, and 15# downrigger weights with keels.

I have also made triangular anchors from 4# and as large as 40#. as well as tons of #7 & #8 shot for trap shooting.

I have been doing this for over 10 years without using much protection (including common sense) except fairly good ventilation.

About 2 years ago, my bad habits caught up to me and I nearly succumbed to lead poisoning.
Now, I’ve got about two tons of ingots and customers for all of it but I am still leery about getting close to the stuff.

It seems that nobody in the area where I live knows anything about what precautions you should take (even when they’re selling the stuff) Would it be possible to send me a list of what I should be using for max. protection.

I’m working about 15 miles from home with no water except what I carry so I thought I should have my darling pick me up and give me a ride home in back of the pick-up when I’ve had enough – I have a canopy
After I blast myself clean (would hot or cold water do the job ??) I could have my darling take me back and we could go thru the same routine in the morning until I was finished.


Bob R.

From PK Safety:

Well Bob, you are right to be concerned about lead dust and the dangers of melting lead for fishing weights and shot. And you’re not the only one who has been doing it so long they almost forgot it was dangerous.

There are some fairly simply ways to greatly reduce that danger. Good ventilation likely saved you from doing yourself more damage in the past. As you move forward with your plans to dispose of your stock of lead ingots and scrap, ventilation should continue to be part of your protection.

Always try to blow clean air into your work area as opposed to trying to blow it out. Preferably you’ll have a blower/ventilator on one side of your work area, and a wide open way for that contaminated air to escape on the other side.

For lung protection, you want filters or cartridges that meet the P100 (HEPA) standards. HEPA stands for High-efficiency Particulate Air, and filters meeting this standard are able to remove 99.97% of all particles greater than 0.3 microns (or micrometers) from the air passing through it.

We often recommend a Lead and Asbestos Dust Respirator that features an inexpensive 3M mask and P100 filters. 3M makes a more comfortable mask made from silicon that is much more soft and flexible. And for lots of jobs the 3M 7500 Series Half Face Mask is preferable because it’s so much more comfortable for extended projects.

The good thing about the 3M 6000 series mask is it’s not that expensive, and you won’t be too broken up about disposing of the mask once your project is done. And that’s just what we advise. Lead dust will stick to the mask, and you’ll never get it all off even if you clean it well. Later on if you use it again, you’ll touch it with bare hands or the dust will be knocked off and all your caution spent in this project is out the window.

It’s also a very good idea to protect your skin from contact with the lead dust, especially if you’re moving lots of it. DuPont makes disposable protective coveralls that are designed to keep dangerous particles – such as lead – from getting to you. These coveralls are also something you’ll want to get rid of once your project is over. Also, it’s a good idea to order these one size too big, as real work tends to involve more squatting and twisting than these things can handle when they are snug.

Gloves are also highly recommended. We recommend simple palm coated gloves like the MCR Safety 9688 Flex Tuff II gloves. They’re also inexpensive, protective, and have a grey latex coating that makes getting a good grip on things easier. One good tip is to tape your gloves to your Tyvek suit once you get them all on. It will keep everything covered even when you are reaching and working.

You’ve definitely got the right idea about protection. Please let us know if you have any more questions. Or if you’ve caught a bunch of fish and are looking to give some away. We are available by phone 7am til 5pm PST, or during those same hours online at


Fertilizer Plant Explosion Poses Serious Air Safety Issues

Posted on Thursday, April 18th, 2013 by Justin McCarter

The deadly explosion of the West Fertilizer Plant in West, Texas is still in the search and rescue stages, but serious air quality risks may now be affecting local residents and rescue workers. What can emergency workers and volunteers do to minimize the health hazards that are likely present on the site of, and in the immediate vicinity of, this most recent US explosion?

Fertilizer Plant explosion workers need respirators

At a news conference, local Waco Police Department Sgt. William Swanton said this morning, “Air quality, at this point, is not an issue. It’s not a concern.” But accidents in other parts of the country, from small refinery fires to 9/11, have shown this may be a short-sighted assessment.

High-quality disposable respirators, also called dust masks, can shield rescue workers and volunteers from a range of airborne hazards. Masks like the Moldex 2730 or the 3M 8233 are both high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters capable of removing 99.97% of particles down to 0.3 microns. These filters provide lung protection for toxic dust and other heavy industrial particles that are likely present in the air due to the West explosion. Another option is to put high quality HEPA filters on non-disposable half-face respirator masks like the 3M Lead and Asbestos Kits, or to use the more comfortable silicon 3M half-face masks with the proper filters for long-term wear.

Ammonium nitrate is often the first thing many people think of when they hear about a fertilizer plant. However ammonium nitrate (or NH4NO3) may not prove to be the most dangerous air contaminant associated with the explosion at this point. Once the fertilizer compounds containing the ammonium nitrate burn along with other chemicals present at the plant, the NH4NO3 is transformed into different compounds and particles, now airborne, which can have serious consequences for people in the area who aren’t using proper preventative lung protection.

While the state and/or local officials may have provided Sgt. Swanton with his preliminary air quality report, a much smaller recent fire at the Richmond Chevron Refinery in the San Francisco Bay Area resulted in immediate shelter-in-place directives from the company as well as local agencies.

It appears the West Fertilizer Plant had no public warning system plans in place, and local police have been focusing on the immediate problems of rescue and stabilization of the injured. However, air quality and lung protection may prove, as they did in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, to be a longer term concern. While the dust from 9/11 is certainly of a different make-up, air pollution experts at the University of California Davis called those particulates “wildly toxic”. As a simple preventative measure, it makes sense, until more is known about the air quality of the area, to treat the atmosphere of the West Texas explosion as similarly dangerous.

Photo credit: USA Today


Moldex Mold and Asbestos Protection

Posted on Wednesday, March 6th, 2013 by Justin McCarter

Some of the more dangerous particles to breath into your lungs are mold spores and asbestos particles. If you are working in areas with either of these factors, as a professional or a do-it-yourselfer, be sure your personal protective equipment (PPE) is up to the task you are setting for it. One of our most popular respirators is the Moldex 9000 Asbestos and Mold Full Face Respirator Combination. The 9000 series masks offer full-face protection which is especially important when particles can also affect the mucous membrane of a worker’s eyes.

Moldex Mask

The Moldex mask not only provides excellent comfort and protection, it also offers outstanding visibility. Part of being able to do your job well may rely on being able to see. The Moldex masks have a clever design feature that directs all incoming fresh air to first hit the face shield. The result is drastically reduced fogging, even when you are working hard.

It’s important to note that head and face protective equipment is a category of PPE employers are required to provide to their employees at no cost. That’s part of the OSHA general industry standard 1910.132. That may be another reason the Moldex full-face mask, cartridges, and filters are so popular with our customers: they are about 20% less expensive than competitive brands while retaining all the functionality.

If you have questions about lung protection, give us a call or contact us online. These are the kinds of questions we can really help with.

Thanks for reading.


Disposable Respirators Indispensable in Some Asian Cities

Posted on Monday, January 28th, 2013 by Justin McCarter

Don’t forget your jacket and your face mask. These words are more likely than ever to be spoken as people leave the house in major cities in China and other industrialized cities around the world these days. As air pollution degenerates further and further, lung protection becomes important not just for those working in factories and other places with dirty flying particles, but simply for day to day health in cities like Beijing, with over 20 million people.

Disposable Respirators Used For Urban Lung Safety

According to an article from Reuters air quality in Beijing recently hit 993 micrograms per cubic meter. The World Health Organization has set a safe limit of about 20 micrograms per cubic meter. To give a better idea of what the Beijing number means, cooking with biomass fuels or coal in your small, poorly ventilated hut will produce a similar level of particulate matter. If it has been some time since you last cooked with coal in your house, believe me when I say it gets a little thick.

Serious health issues can be the result of long-term exposure to these particle levels. This is especially true with the young and the elderly whose systems are less able to recover from the toxic atmosphere. The elderly are more susceptible to cardiovascular disease while the youth are experiencing a dramatic rise in asthma rates. Overall mortality in cities with very high particulate matter pollution has been shown by the WHO to be 15-20% higher than relatively cleaner cities. In major cities in Asia the WHO estimates these premature deaths to be over 530,000 per year based on reports from the U.S.-based Health Effects Institute.

In response to these conditions, many Beijingese are regularly donning disposable respirators. And while some face mask models are incorporating fashion, many residents are going for a mask that will provide the greatest protection such as the Moldex Premium Particulate respirator which is rated N99 – removing 99% of particulate matter .03 microns and larger.

Lung protection when living in this level of pollution over the long term is more of a necessity than a luxury. Until countries and cities can find a way to reduce levels of particulate matter and have generally cleaner air, conscious use of disposable or reusable lung protection will be more and more important for the health of those who live in dangerous air environments.


How to Administer a Respirator Fit Test

Posted on Monday, January 14th, 2013 by Justin McCarter

It’s an employer’s responsibility to fit test workers with the respirators used on their job sites. Most folks don’t think about this unless they are in highly regulated fields. But under OSHA safety standard 1910.134 employers are required to show each worker using this lung protection equipment how to put on a respirator, how to position it on the face, and how to determine an acceptable fit. If you’ve never performed a fit test, here is a quick primer on how to use a Qualitative Fit Test Apparatus from 3M and Allegro.

How to Administer a Resirator Fit Test

The test is designed to make sure the wearer of the respirator can achieve an adequate seal between the unit and their face. It relies upon the ability of the wearer to detect the taste of either a bitter or a sweet solution when the test administrator injects the solution into the hood in the form of a fine mist. Both the sweet and the bitter kits may be required as some employees may simply not have the pallet sensitivity to recognize one or the other taste.

The 3M FT-30 Bitrex Fit Test Kit is a popular kit. It contains a hood, a plastic collar, a laminated instruction book (in both English and Spanish), a bitter-tasting sensitivity solution, two nebulizers, and two replacement nebulizer inserts. It comes in a cardboard carrying case. An identical kit is available from 3M with a sweet, saccharin test solution.

The tests are suitable for checking the fit of disposable respirators rated N95 or above or half-face reusable respirators with particulate or combination filters.

The 3M kits, as well as the Allegro Bitrex Respirator Fit Test Kit and the Allegro Saccharin Respirator Fit Test Kit contain similar equipment and the tests should be conducted in the same way.

The test itself breaks down into two parts: the sensitivity test, and the actual fit test. To administer the sensitivity test, open your bottle of Bitrex or Saccharin solution and the top of your nebulizer. Add approximately 1 teaspoon of the solution into the reservoir at the top of the bulb. Put the top of the nebulizer back on. Then, while squeezing the bulb several times look carefully to confirm the device is creating a mist. Next, make sure to ask the test subject if they have had anything to eat or drink except for water and that they have not chewed gum for at least 15 minutes prior to the test. If they have, wait an appropriate amount of time before beginning the test as lingering flavors in the test subject’s mouth may affect their ability to recognize the test solution.

Place the hood and collar over the subject’s head. For this first test the subject will not be wearing any type of respirator. The sensitivity test is to make sure the subject can taste and recognize the nebulized solution. Ask the subject to breathe through their mouth with their tongue slightly out. Have them indicate when they taste the solution by raising their hand.

Place the nebulizer valve through the hole in the front of the hood. Squeeze the bulb on the nebulizer, and let the bulb fully re-inflate before squeezing again. Count and take a note of how many times you squeeze the bulb before the test subject indicated they have recognized the taste inside their hood. When you administer the fit test with the respirator, use the same number of repetitions or slightly more before deciding whether the seal is sufficient. As a rule, if it takes between 1 and 10 squeezes, 10 squeezes should be used for the next test. If it takes more than 30 squeezes, the alternative (either bitter or sweet) test should be administered to the worker.

Time should be taken to let the taste clear from the worker’s mouth before beginning to administer the fit test. A drink of water may speed this process along.

To administer the fit test allow the test subject to put on their respirator plus and glasses or other personal protective equipment that may affect the fit of the mask. Explain the test and tell them you’ll be asking them to move their head around, up and down, side to side inside the hood to simulate normal work movement. They will be bending at the waist as well, this is necessary to test the seal of the mask in as wide a range of movements as possible.

Next use the nebulizer to administer about half of the total number of squeezes this particular subject required to recognize the solution in the sensitivity test. Mark the time on your watch when you start. Administer another half of the repetitions after each 30-second period for the duration of the test. The reason for this is the solution has a tendency to settle out of the hood in that amount of time.

After one minute while continuing to add solution to the hood, ask the subject to begin deep, full breathing. Tell them to be careful not to hyperventilate. If your subjects start passing out, you’ll never get through all these employees. That’s a joke. Just checking to see you are still paying attention.

After one minute of deep breathing, ask the test subject to start turning their head side to side. Have them pause at the end of each turn for a deep breath. After one minute of this procedure, have them do the same thing, but move their head up and down. Have them inhale each time their head is in the up position. After one minute of this, next you’ll have the subject bend at the waist like they are touching their toes.

Again, top up the concentration and give them the user instructions to read out loud. Have them reread the passage for a full minute. You will likely be able to recite this passage by heart after only a few test subjects. Finally, ask the test subject to carry out one more minute of normal breathing.

Once the worker has completed all of these tasks without tasting the mist, they have passed the test. If at any time the worker does taste the solution, take the hood off the subject, take the respirator off, clear the pallet, re-administer the sensitivity test, then make adjustments to the respirator and re-administer the entire fit test.

Two failed tests is likely to indicate that the type of respirator being used is unsuitable for the particular facial structure of the test subject. Another size or model of respirator should be tried using the same testing techniques. A record of the testing process for each employee should be kept as part of the administration of the respirator fit testing process.

After testing the nebulizers should be rinsed out with clean water and wiped dry. Replacement 3M FT-13 Fit Test Nebulizers, 3M Fit Test Collars, and Sensitivity Solution are available.

If you have any questions about administering your fit test, or with the fit testing equipment, please don’t hesitate to call us or contact us online Monday through Friday 7am till 5pm PST.


Supplied Air Respirators are Great for Auto Repair and Painting

Posted on Wednesday, November 7th, 2012 by Justin McCarter

One of the big dangers if you are an auto refinisher are the isocyanates that are present in many of the paints used on vehicles. Isocyanates are a serious health hazard for those working in the automobile industry or doing autobody repair. Others who work grinding metals or with hazardous particles in their air space also find traditional filters or cartridges simply don’t work (as with isocyanates) or are not a match for the atmospheres they work in. These situations are ideal for supplied air respirators (SARs).

Fresh air is supplied to workers by Allegro respirator pumps

A SAR system is pretty straight-forward. The air pump supplies the clean breathing air, the hose delivers the air to the mask, and the mask assembly keeps the good air around your face while allowing you a wide, clear view of your work.

The beauty of the SAR system is that you can work around dangerous fumes or airborne particles, and still breathe the nice, fresh air from outside, or wherever you have properly set up your air pump. The loose-fitting hoods are light-weight, low-maintenance (most are equipped with disposable visor covers), and offer a wide field-of-vision. Users also say the cool outside air helps to keep their body temperatures down while they are working. Especially during the summer.

Another advantage of a supplied air system is that workers don’t need a fit test to use the hood model—and can even have a beard and wear eyeglasses. The Allegro 9821 A-750 Ambient Air Pump is the rotary vane pump which brings clean, uncontaminated air to workers operating in contaminated areas. A SAR system can only do this if it the pump is positioned in an area with clean air. .

The A-750 pump shown in the photo above can be used with two Allegro Constant Flow Airline Respirators or one Airline Hood Assembly.

The Allegro Economy Supplied Air Face Shield with Low Pressure Adapter pictured above provides full face protection in a hazardous (but not IDLH) atmosphere at a reasonable cost. This face shield also has peel-off lens protectors available (Allegro 9903-25).

If you have any questions about SARs or respirators in general, please give us a call or contact us online. We are happy to explain these systems and help figure out which air filtration, purification, or supply system is best for your specific work environment.


The Pureflo Helmet – A Comfortable PAPR Without Belts & Hoses

Posted on Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012 by Justin McCarter

We recently had a Pureflo representative in to refresh our memories about these great products. Pureflo helmets are powered air purifying respirators (PAPR) and are great for companies that need to supply respirators, but don’t want to fit test each employee. They are also comfortable and may be easier to wear in tight spaces where the traditional PAPR units with belts and hoses can be cumbersome.

PAPR Pureflo Helmet with HEPA Filter

Pureflo helmets, because they have a motor pulling air into the helmet area, create less breathing fatigue than someone using a traditional pulled air respirator for long periods of time, or in atmospheres where the filters may fill quickly. A sophisticated electronic monitoring system checks filter and battery life and displays the information in a convenient spot inside the face shield. An audible alarm sounds when the dual batteries or filter are nearly out.

Welders working with stainless steel often require the HE/HF filter for Hydrogen Fluoride. Both the HEPA and HE-HF filters remove 99.97% of liquid or solid-based contaminants. Pureweld helmets are available with ADF or Passive 10 eye protection.

The standards Pureflo ESM respiratory helmet is both smaller and lighter than most other PAPR units. This all-in-one unit means there is no belt with fan and hoses to get caught while you are working.

Pureflo helmets are available in either hard hat or bump cap configurations and come in several colors. These respirators are made in the USA and are in stock and available for quick shipping. If you have questions about Pureflo helmets, we have answers.


Which 3M Cartidge is Right for My Job?

Posted on Wednesday, September 26th, 2012 by Justin McCarter

We have lots of folks who call us asking which is the correct 3M respirator cartridge for their job. It’s not always easy to know. 3M alone has more than 20 cartridges and filters for different types of work. We’d like to start breaking down the different uses each of these products, and we will start with some of the most popular.

Which Respirator Filter is Right for My Application?

All of the cartridges we’ll discuss are filled with activated charcoal. Each has slightly different characteristics, so let’s discuss which solution is best for the types of tasks you may encounter. We’ll start with the 6001 organic vapor cartridge. This is a respirator cartridge that absorbs lots of bad smells as well as vapors from things like solvents.

Solvents are often used in painting. They are present when you are using turpentine, paint thinner, and lacquer thinner. They are also present, and in quite heavy concentrations, when using adhesives such as rubber cement or the popular E6000 glue.

People doing boat work often use this cartridge because it picks up the vapors from things like epoxy resin, 5200 adhesive, penetrating epoxy, and bottom paint.

Another popular choice for respirator protection are the 3M 6006 Multi-Gas Respirator Cartridges. These cartridges have been treated to trap and absorbs acid gases along with the organic vapors. The most common form of acid gas that folks generally come in contact with are from chlorine. But the category also includes things like formaldehyde and sulfur dioxide.

The 6006 multi-gas cartridge is what you want to use, or give your employees, if they are using multiple solvents or cleaners. It helps reduce the risk that you will pick the wrong cartridge for the job. Some jobs require workers to use Tilex, for example, but there may by Goof-Off or Acetone being used on the job site as well. These products give off strong odors, but they work great. If you or your employees are going to be exposed to them for an extended period of time, a 3M 6006 cartridge will trap those vapors and make working in the space a heck of a lot more comfortable. This is also the solution if you are working in a lab and there are formaldehyde vapors plus other noxious smells, the charcoal is able to pick up the added smells and vapors.

Finally we have the big daddy – the 3M 60926 Multi Gas/P100 Cartridge. This is a multi-gas cartridge that is also fit with a P-100 filter. This is going to protect against a wide variety of vapors and other strong smells while also filtering the fine particles from the air.

The 60926 protects against the widest variety of dangers to the lungs. However there is a cost for all this protection. Both in terms of actual cost – it’s about twice as much as a regular cartridge – and because each breath will be more difficult because it needs to be pulled through so much more material. Users have found they tire easily with this set-up.

So while we don’t generally recommend this cartridge except for folks that are heading into a place with multiple hazards, it is a fairly comprehensive cartridge, and protects against a number of respiratory dangers.

Thanks for reading. Please give us a ring, or contact us online at if you have more questions.


How Can You Protect Yourself From Welding Fumes?

Posted on Wednesday, September 12th, 2012 by Justin McCarter

Welders understand that the fumes and gases produced from their work can lead to serious illness. The danger and amount of exposure to the welders depend on the type of work being done, the rod, filler metals, base metals, coatings, contaminants, as well as the amount of ventilation and respiration protection.

We simply don’t know everything there is to know about protecting workers from welding fumes. However, there are some common precautions that can be taken to protect workers from injury and illness.

Welding fumes are basically a mixture of metallic oxides, fluorides, and silicates. Not so wonderful to be breathing into your lungs by themselves, but since we have to live and work in the real world, there are other considerations such as the paint, rust inhibitors, solvents, and other coatings on the welded metal which can create additional dangers.

With proper precaution, the amount of gas and vapor can be eliminated, or at least reduced to a high degree. Ventilation is always an essential control option. Whether you are ventilating the entire area or can drill down to a very specific confined space, replacing dirty air with clean is often the first go-to procedure. Many shops require ventilation that meets UL specifications such as the RamFan UB20 with ducting.

Another option is respiratory protection. Fumes produced by basic welding of iron or steel can often be blocked by wearing a simple N95 mask such as the 3M 8212 N95 Welding Particulate Respirator or as a step up, an N99 mask such as the Moldex Premium Disposable Welding Respirator. Both of these have exhalation valves to keep the mask cool. However, these types of disposable masks are only good for simple welding.

Once you start arc welding, the ozone created by the electrical arc produces fumes that require a more robust system of respiratory protection. Since the face shields worn to protect from infrared restrict the type of respirator and cartridge or filter that can be used, many welders prefer soft P100 filters like the 3M 2097 Particulate Mold Filter P100 because they have a layer of charcoal to absorb fumes and organic vapors and also can block far more of the particles carried on the air. The 2097s can be worn on the 3M 6000 Series half-face masks or the 3M 7500 Series which is made of soft silicon and is more comfortable when worn for long periods of time.

Even more sophisticated breathing systems exist. The Pureflo Welding Helmet is a powered air respirator with Shade 10 or Auto-darkening features, face, eyes, and head protection. But at a cost. Airline Respirators are also an option, but may not be appropriate for all worksites.

In the end, every site contains its own hazards, as well as the best solutions for keeping welders and other workers in the area safe. If you have questions about the best protection from welding fumes and gases, feel free to give us a call or visit us online at

Check out our blog post on welding protection: WELDER SAFETY TIPS: HOW TO AVOID EXPOSURE TO WELDING HAZARDS.


OSHA Fines Indoor Shooting Ranges for Lead Exposure

Posted on Monday, September 10th, 2012 by Justin McCarter

We’ve touched on airborne lead exposure from indoor gun ranges in the past. Get The Lead Out – Shooters at Indoor Ranges Need Respirators.  OSHA is apparently now on the lookout for increased lead exposure for shooters and employees at indoor ranges (I’m pretty sure it had nothing to do with our post) and recently fined a range in Illinois $111,000 for airborne lead exposure limits up to 12 times the safe level. Another company in Florida was sited for not properly protecting employees who clean the firing range.

A Lead Respirator Keeps Lead Dust Out of Your Lungs At Indoor Gun Ranges

“Illinois Gun Works has a responsibility to protect the health of its employees by ensuring that they operate in a manner which eliminates or minimizes lead hazards, including exposure. OSHA is committed to protecting employees’ safety and health,” said the director of OSHA’s Chicago North Area, Diane Turek, regarding the Chicago area fine and reported by Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S).

Clearly OSHA is serious about this issue, and with good reason. Lead dust doesn’t just pose a health risk to employees, instructors and customers. If you work around these materials and it is carried home on your clothing, gun cases, etc. it can cause lead poisoning to the folks at home, including children, who are especially susceptible.

If you are unsure about the levels of lead exposure at your local range, consider wearing a respirator mask with a P100 HEPA filter while you shoot. It won’t look good, but saving your lungs will make you smile in the long run.


What is the Best Respirator for Epoxy Application?

Posted on Wednesday, August 15th, 2012 by Justin McCarter

The Bay Area abounds with many wonderful old things. Vintage boats and Victorian era houses are two that often end up benefiting from a product called penetrating epoxy. For the owners of old houses, this epoxy seeps deep into damaged or rotten wood creating incredible strength while eliminating the possibility of future rot on gingerbread, bay windows, dentils, and lentils. It is seen as almost a miracle in an age when traditional woodworking crafts have largely disappeared. For classic boat owners, wood penetrated with epoxy bonds and repels water like nothing else.

But all this wonderful repairability and protection comes at a cost. Penetrating epoxy is toxic stuff.

Lung and eye protection are a must when using penetrating epoxy

And not just a little toxic. Take a look below at the material safety data sheet (MSDS) for one of the most popular penetrants – Smith’s Penetrating Epoxy.

One of our website programmers here at PK Safety sent some photos and knowledge about using penetrating epoxy that adds information to a boatyard safety blog we posted earlier this year.

Here is her report:

If you own an old wooden schooner, Smith’s Penetrating Epoxy is your friend. I needed to treat the scarf I’d cut around a rotted area, before adding a West system epoxied, cold-molded, replacement section to hold things together until I could replace the plank at next winter’s haul-out.

But, with an MSDS only a chemist would love, you don’t want to work unprotected near Smith’s.

This was the first mask and cartridge set (the 3M 7500 series silicon mask with 3M 60926 Multi-Gas Organic Vapor cartridges) I’d ever used that I didn’t smell even a teeny whiff of chemicals – just fresh, clean air. Worked just as well with the marine filler I used on a cosmetic repair in the aft head Saturday. No reek of Bondo.


Thanks for the update Nancy. And glad your repairs have been performed safely. Cyclohexanone is no joke. You really don’t want to come into direct contact with any of that stuff. But if you have architectural elements that need repair, or a boat with wood, like Nancy says, Smith’s is your friend.

If anyone has questions about safety gear for boat repairs, DIY projects, or architectural repair, please send us a line. Chances are we have the answers for you. And if we don’t, we will contact 3M or Moldex for you and find out. The same goes for just about any work safety equipment out there.


Refinery Fire Shows Need for Home Respirator Protection

Posted on Wednesday, August 8th, 2012 by Justin McCarter

We’ve all heard tests of the emergency broadcast system over the TV and radio. The long monotone and subsequent beeps of digital information being transmitted are generally followed by an announcement that this was a test (“This is only a test”). Last night as I listened to the baseball game, I heard my first real emergency broadcast.

A Multi-Gas Cartridge and Mask Are Nice When You Get a Shelter In Place Order

The announcement directed residents of several counties in the Bay Area, including mine, to shelter in place. The Chevron refinery in Richmond, one of the largest refineries in the nation, was on fire.

Looking out the back door I saw plumes of black smoke like a bruise across the sky. Later Chevron revealed sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, hydrogen oxide, sulfuric acid, and nitrogen dioxide were all released into the atmosphere by the fire and damage to the facility. The clouds of smoke drifted out over the Bay, and not particularly in my direction, while specially trained fire crews fought to contain the blaze.

Let me tell you, sitting in the house during a “shelter in place” emergency isn’t fun. You keep thinking about the big gap under your front door, and the window in the back room that doesn’t close all the way. And while you could start taping up the windows with that big roll of duct tape (I didn’t), what I was really wishing for was my respirator and a couple of fresh 3M Multi-Gas/P100 Cartridges.

At the time of the warning, there was no word on precisely what was in the black clouds of doom descending upon my house. And it was only last November when a large amount of heavy hydrocarbons was accidentally released and “auto-ignited” from the same plant, so it’s tough to know just what you need to be protecting yourself from. That is why the multi-gas cartridge is the one we’d recommend since it protects against a wide range of fumes as well as blocking 99.5% of particles down to 3 microns. That is significantly better than the damp towel I was holding over my face when I had to run next door to check on my elderly neighbors.

The Richmond Chevron refinery produces approximately 240,000 barrels of jet fuel, gas, diesel, and other lubricants, and makes up a significant portion of the company’s total domestic production. And while this most recent release of toxins doesn’t appear to have caused widespread air quality problems around the Bay Area, it’s a good time to consider just what equipment would be best for you and your family to have on hand in an air emergency. A damp old towel is really not going to help.

If you have questions about respirators or the right filters and cartridges to use in an emergency, please call us, or contact us online at


Gas Monitors for Firefighters – Know Your Smoke

Posted on Monday, July 2nd, 2012 by Justin McCarter

Even professional firefighters may underestimate the danger of smoke from simple fires say experts. Traditionally, firefighters have equated large emissions of hydrogen cyanide (HCN) or carbon monoxide (CO) with hazmat incidents or chemical plant situations. In reality HCN is present in almost every type of call – home, vehicle, dumpster fires, and many more.

Firefighters Breathing HCN and CO at Dangerous Levels Some Say

Resources such as gas monitors have traditionally mainly been used by confined space entry teams and hazmat response teams. But the information received from these devices can greatly help firefighters create guidelines to make each fire ground a safer place.

How bad are the levels of exposure for firefighters on a regular basis? Immediate danger to life and health (IDLH) levels for HCN are only 50 parts per million (ppm), while 1200 ppm of carbon monoxide is potentially fatal. An HCN level above 270 ppm can be fatal in 6 to 8 minutes.

Research by the Fire Smoke Coalition has shown that even simple pot-on-the-stove fires put out by the homeowners may produce carbon monoxide levels of 75 parts per million (PPM) which is well over the recommended exposure limit (REL) of 35 ppm. These are situations with minimal smoke present, and often emergency workers will fore go breathing apparatus in the name of expediency or by assuming the situation is not serious enough to warrant the extra gear.

Experts in the Fire Smoke Coalition say that unless a fire is 100% stable and cool, firefighters need to assume dangerous gases are being produced. Often carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide are both present, and in combination, they are even more dangerous to a person’s health. See their video about HCN and CO monitoring here.

Because so many home products and building materials are made from chemicals and plastic products, it may be that smoke from fires is more dangerous than in the past. Whatever the case, firefighters across the country are turning to devices like the ToxiRAE Pro Single-Gas Detector from RAE Systems or more robust multi-gas monitors such as the RAE Systems MultiRAE Wireless-Capable Monitor to give a more complete picture of the dangers present in each new situation they face.

If you or your team have more questions about HCN or CO monitors, or gas detection in general, please call us at 1-800-829-9580 or visit us online at


Who Can’t Wear a Respirator?

Posted on Wednesday, June 20th, 2012 by Justin McCarter

Not everyone can wear a half- or full-face respirator while working. There are several conditions spelled out in the OSHA standards where respirator masks either won’t work, or put the wearer in danger.

Respirators Are Not For Everybody

The most frequent impediment to having a mask fit and therefore work properly is facial hair. OSHA is very specific in the new (1998) guidelines. In section 29 CFR 1910.134(g), Use of Respirators, it states: “Facepiece seal protection. The employer shall not permit respirators with tight-fitting facepieces to be worn by employees who have: (A) Facial hair that comes between the sealing surface of the facepiece and the face or that interferes with valve function…” This includes not only beards and giant 70’s-style side burns, but stubble that’s long enough to get in the way of a proper fit.

Another important consideration are corrective lenses. If you wear contact lenses, OSHA says you can wear a full-face mask or a half-face mask and chemical goggles. But for folks with traditional glasses, it has to be a full-face mask with the proper corrective glasses insert, since the arms of eyewear can get in the way of a proper fit on a half-face mask.

We touched on another problem that occurs when wearing a respirator in a blog about breathing traffic exhaust. The heat generated by wearing a respirator can cause people with medical conditions such as eczema to have flare-ups.

And it seems obvious, but still important to mention, that folks with breathing problems like asthma may have greater difficulty pulling air through the filters and cartridges while working, and therefore shouldn’t handle jobs that require respirators.

Other considerations mentioned in the OSHA report are for people with known heart issues, or who may experience claustrophobia.

At the end of the day, it’s the employers who are responsible for knowing the laws about what can and can’t be worn by their employees. While employees must make supervisors aware if their ability to wear respirators changes, it’s important that all of the people required to work with breathing protection be tested for proper fit, and abide by the rules that keep the equipment functioning properly.

Stay safe. Work smart.

Thanks for reading.


How to Clean Your Respirator Mask

Posted on Monday, June 18th, 2012 by Justin McCarter

Taking care of your respirator is simple stuff, but it can have a big impact on your health and safety at work. In this post we’re going to explain the best way to keep your non-disposable respirator clean and how to prolong the life of your cartridges.

Cleaning Your Respirator

Most people never clean their respirators. Why? Maybe they love germs. Or accumulated grime. Or maybe, like me, they just wipe it out with a rag occasionally and keep working. Hey, I’ll do it right from now on.

Masks like the 3M 7500 Half Facepiece Respirator or the Moldex 9000 Full Face Respirator are worn to protect workers from dangerous atmospheres, and properly cared for, they will continue doing that for quite some time. However, if you’re wearing a mask, chances are you’re not working in the cleanest of environments and they need to be washed to remove any residue occasionally.

To clean your respirator, first wash your hands. You don’t want to take out the dirt and replace it with the paint or chemicals you’ve been working with. Next disassemble the respirator. If you’re not sure how to do it, check the written instructions that came with the mask. Make sure you don’t lose any seals or washers that may be in place with the cartridges.

It probably goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: You can’t wash your cartridges. If you have cartridges with rigid exteriors, you can wipe the dirt or over-spray off. But make sure you set them to the side when you are washing. More on care for cartridges soon.

Next, hand wash the respirator facepiece in warm water. Use a disinfectant soap. Check with the manufacturer to see if there are recommended brands. Allegro sells individually-wrapped respirator cleaning wipes that can be used for everyday quick cleaning. And they also sell cleaning kits that can be used if you have lot of respirators to clean on a regular basis.

After you have cleaned the respirator and all the parts, let them air-dry before reassembly.

The other important thing to remember about caring for your respirator is keeping your respirator and cartridges stored correctly. Sunlight, dust, extremes of both heat and cold, and chemicals can have a negative impact on the longevity of your mask.

Proper Storage of Respirators and Cartridges

Ideally the cartridges should be removed after each use and put in a zip-lock bag for storage. If you have a half-face mask, it will fit into a gallon-sized bag without having to take the cartridges off. Always store your mask away from the job site or any other chemicals.

It’s important to remember organic vapor cartridges like the 3M 6001 or a multi-gas cartridge like the Moldex 7600 Multi-Gas Vapor Smart Cartridges will continue to absorb any gas or vapor they are exposed to, even if a worker isn’t pulling air through mask.

As always, if you have any questions about your safety gear, respirators, cartridges or safety in general, please don’t hesitate to call 1-800-829-9580 or contact us online at

Thanks for reading.