respiratory protection



Before deciding to use respiratory protective equipment, consider whether or not certain air pollution by dangerous substances can be avoided, e.g., through the use of less hazardous substances or air ventilation to reduce the pollution level below the limit. Respiratory protective equipment should always be used as a last resort.

Respirators must be used when the breathing air is polluted or whenever contamination with particles, gases, fumes or smoke in concentrations exceeding the maximum level is suspected. Respiratory protective equipment must also be used if the oxygen content in the air is below 17% by volume. Before any work commences, respiratory protective equipment users must have thorough theoretical and practical knowledge in the use and maintenance of such equipment. We recommend that employees be fit tested.


we have a 3 hour rule in Denmark? Using respiratory protection equipment is a burden for the body. Therefore, the duration of use is limited for some types of equipment. Filtering respiratory protection, where the user breaths through a filter, may only be used 3 hours per day. If the job is expected to take longer, the user must use a respiratory protection with a turbo unit or a self-contained breathing apparatus.


The protection factor indicates how many times the respiratory protective equipment can reduce the concentration of harmful substances inside the mask in relation to the concentration in the surrounding environment. For example, if the contamination is 400 mg/m3 and the respiratory protection of the respiratory protective equipment is 200, the contamination in the air inhaled will be 2 mg/m3.

This protection factor is measured in ideal conditions by laboratory testing and is called the nominal protection factor. The actual protection factor will decrease considerably over time due to wear, ill fitting etc. It is therefore important to take these factors into account when choosing respiratory protective equipment. Fit testing ensures high protection.


Respiratory protective equipment must be used from the commencement of the work and during the whole time a person is in the contaminated area. Even a short stay without respiratory protective equipment will significantly reduce the expected protection.

The particle filters for half- and full-face masks are divided into 3 categories (P1, P2 and P3), which are an expression of their ability to filter dust, mists and aerosols. Colour code: White. Some filters protect against all particle types such as smoke, asbestos, bacteria, viruses and even radioactive fallout. The highest category P3 covers both P1 and P2. The particle filters must be exchanged when the user notices increased breathing resistance.


P1 R/NR*  Solid and wet particles80%
P2 R/NR*  Solid and wet particles94%
P3 R/NR*  Solid and wet particles99.95%

”R” = Recyclable. ”NR” = Not recyclable.

Similarly, the gas filters for half- and full-face masks are divided into 3 categories based on capacity and concentration.


1  0.1 percent by volume = 1000 ppm*
2  0.5 percent by volume = 5000 ppm*
3  1.0 percent by volume = 10000 ppm*

*ppm = part per million


The expected protection factor at 100% service life is specified for each respiratory protective equipment certification class. The protection factor indicates how many times the air inside the mask is cleaner. If the actual useful life of the respiratory protective equipment decreases, the actual protection factor will drop dramatically! See the table below. Generally speaking, it does not matter what type of respiratory protective equipment will be used in case of a useful life of 80%. The protection factor will be almost the same!

Percent of the working time in contaminated environment where respiratory protective equipment is used. 100 % means that respiratory protective equipment is used at all times.100%95%90%80%Example of respiratory protective equipment
Effective protection factors2511.407.404.30
100019.609.904.98Blast cleaning helmet with air supply


According to the general guidelines for choosing respiratory protective equipment, the following must be selected:

Filtering facemasks
  • In case of low concentrations of solid and fluid particles for short-term use. Up to 3 hours.
Filtering half masks with replaceable filters
  • In case of concentrations with volume percentage of up to 0.1. Up to 3 hours.
Filtering full-face masks with replaceable filters
  • In case of concentrations with volume percentage of up to 0.5. Whenever eye protection is required. Up to 3 hours.
Filtering respiratory protective equipment with turbo unit
  • When the task requires the use of respiratory protective equipment for more than 3 hours, as well as where filtering respiratory protective equipment, in general, has to be used.
Self-contained breathing apparatus
  • In case of a lack of oxygen (less than 17% by volume) in the breathing air.
  • Where contamination occurs in high concentrations.
  • If the work with respiratory protective equipment exceeds 3 hours and if the the composition of concentration of the contamination is unknown.
  • Where there are no suitable filters.
  • If the user has a beard or speciel facial features.
  • When a filtering turbo unit cannot be used.
  • When the characteristic warning signs, such as odour and taste, are poor.


Depending on the ambient atmosphere.

Face mask with particle filterFace mask with gas filterFace mask with combi filter
Face mask filtering particlesFace mask filtering gases and vapoursFace mask filtering particles, gases and vapours
Filtering turbo unit with particle filterFiltering turbo unit with gas filterFiltering turbo unit with combi filter


Fresh air hose breathing apparatusCompressed-air line breathing apparatusSelf-contained open-circuit air breathing apparatusSelf-contained close-circuit air breathing apparatus
Without blowerWith continous air supplyWith automatic lung with normal pressureWith compressed oxygen
With manually-driven blowerWith automatic lungWith automatic lung with overpressureWith liquid oxygen
With moter-driven blowerWith automatic lung with overpressure
With oxygen expansion



EN 136
  • Full face masks
EN 137
  • Self-contained open-circuit compressed air breating apparatus
EN 138
  • Fresh air hose breathing apparatus
EN 14594
  • Continuous flow, compressed air line breathing apparatus (full-face and half masks, HD hood and face shield, blast cleaning hood, LD hood and face shield) (replacing EN 139, 270, 271 and1835)
EN 140
  • Half masks
EN 14387
  • Gas filter(s) and combined filter(s). AX gas and combined filters against low-boiling organic compounds (replacing EN 141 og 371)
EN 143
  • Particle filters
EN 149
  • Filtering half masks - disposible masks (2001)
EN 403
  • Evacuation - disposible hood with filter in case of fire
EN 405
  • Filtering half masks - maintenance-free
EN 1146
  • Self-contained open-circuit compressed air breathing apparatus incorporating a hood for evacuation
EN 12941
  • Powered filtering devices incorporating a helmet or a hood (replacing EN 146)
EN 12942
  • Power assisted filtering devices incorporating a full face mask (replacing EN 147)



Will gradually clog because of the particles accumulated in the filter. Therefore, the service life depends on the concentration of pollutants in the air. The filter has to be replaced when breathing resistance has become so great that it feels burdensome. Particle filters are ineffective for gases and lack of oxygen!


Consist of activated carbon with a very large surface. 1 gram has a surface of 1200 m2. The gases are adsorbed by the activated carbon without any major change in breathing resistance. A gas filter has a certain capacity depending on the amount of carbon it contains (class 1, 2 or 3). The useful life of gas filters can be calculated using the pollution concentration, the user's air requirement and the filter capacity. This calculation is very uncertain as it includes many variables. When the filter is almost used up, leakage will gradually increase. The filter should be replaced before leakage occurs. The contamination must not be smelled so the filter has to be replaced before odour can be detected. To ensure that the replacement is done in time, develop regular experience-based routines. Gas filters are ineffective for particles and lack of oxygen.


If simultaneous protection gas and particle protection is needed, combi or multiple filters must be used. The useful life is described above in particle or gas filters.


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