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Breathe Easier On The Farm

Admit it, some jobs on the farm require a respirator. And not just any respirator. It’s got to fit the job — and you.

Air purifying respirators come in three types: quarter mask, half mask and full face. The quarter mask, also known as a disposable respirator, dust mask or single-use respirator, removes particles only. Find one that is comfortable for you! Types available include N95, P95, R95, N99, P100. They range in price from $1 to $4 each for the N series to $2 to $10 each for the R and P series. These masks are good for augering dusty crops and cleaning the shop.

The half mask, shown in the photo, removes vapour and gas only, unless you insert a particle pre-filter (N, R, P). There are many different sizes and types ranging in price from $14 to $60. A full-face piece protects the eyes, removes vapour and gas only, unless you use a particle pre-filter (N, R, P). Prices range from $120 to $250 each.

If you just need to remove particles, use a mask with a filter. If you need to remove vapours and gases only, use a cartridge or canister. Combine them if you might encounter both hazards in your work on the farm. Half masks with the appropriate filters or cartridges could be used for pesticide applications, paints or mouldy grain. The full mask with the appropriate filter and cartridge should definitely be used for anhydrous ammonia.

Always check for the NIOSH emblem that certifies masks and filters. And remember the not-so-secret code for face masks: N series for “not resistant” to oil; R series for “resistant” to oil; P series for “oil proof.” The numbers — 95, 99 and 99.97 (rounded to 100) — refer to the per cent of particulates removed by the filter. The higher the efficiency, the lower the leakage.

And don’t just grab a respirator off the shelf. Make sure it fits you. Then keep it clean in a tight container or a sealed plastic bag. And use it. You’ll breathe easier — for life!

— Thanks to the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association for providing this farm safety tip. Look for another tip in your next Grainews.

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