09 Persoonlijke beschermingsmiddelen
 >  PPE to protect against hazardous substances
Discussion > Discuss this with your colleagues!
  • I never really know what respiratory protection I should use when coming into contact with hazardous substances, vapours or gases.
  • I find wearing a mask inconvenient and as far as I know it also carries other risks.

This toolbox meeting devotes attention to respiratory protection to protect against dust formation, evaporation and/or aerosol formation. Naturally, our aim is to as much as possible apply our occupational hygiene strategy. However, unfortunately this does not always work and in some cases we must wear personal protective equipment, such as respiratory protection.

The safety data sheet (SDS) of a hazardous substance in column 8 shows the type of respiratory protection that can be used. This information is also displayed on the workplace instruction card (WIC). The SDSs and WICs are available in the TOXIC system (see the TOXIC tile in the GO! app).

Risks > What can happen?

In working with hazardous substances, you can be exposed through breathing, in one of three ways:

  • By inhaling dust particles
  • By inhaling vapours
  • By inhaling aerosol particles
Measures > What must you do

The choice of mask depends on the desired level of protection, as well as personal preference. The following masks are available. The masks that provide the highest level of protection are shown below.

  1. Mouth-nose masks
  2. Half-face and full-face masks
  3. Breathing air blower
  4. Hood + powered air respirator (overflow)
  5. Living air or breathing air purifiers (semi-independent)
  6. Compressed air (independent)

A distinction is made between dependent and independent respiratory protection; this is defined as follows:

  • Dependent: the air flow comes from the environment and is filtered by the filter.
  • Independent: some harmful gases and vapours cannot be eliminated by a filter. In that case it is necessary to use protective equipment, whereby clean air is supplied from elsewhere (independent air supply).
Mouth-nose mask
Half-face/full-face mask
Hood + powered air respirator
Living or breathing air purifier
Compressed air

Particulate or dust filter

Particulate filters protect against solid or liquid particulate aerosols. At Heijmans this involves different types of substances. Particulate filters are classified as Type 1, 2 or 3. The higher the number, the more effective it is at removing the substance. Type 3 therefore is the most effective in removing substances.

Gas filter or activated carbon filter

A gas or vapour can be captured by a gas filter. A gas filter does not protect against dust particles at the same time, unless the filter is combined with a particulate filter. There are different types of gas filters. These filters are tailored to a specific type of gas and provide protection against that gas. The type of gas filter is identified by a letter and colour code (see Table 1). Some suppliers deliver combination filters that offer protection against multiple gases.

Table 1: overview of filters

Combination filter

Various types of gas and particulate filters can be used in combination, by combining two replaceable filters or making them part of the mask in combined form (filtering half-masks). The use of combination filters generally reduces the length of the protection period. For example, this applies to the so-called ABEK filter, which is composed of an A, B, E and K filter. Such filters are used in various situations in which there is a cocktail of contaminants (soil decontamination) or if the substances involved cannot be clearly identified. ABEK filters can be supplied with Class 1 capacity, unless the supplier indicates otherwise.

Tips > For more information

How long can a filter be used? – on average 4 to 8 hours

This is determined by a number of factors, including:

  • The higher the concentration of gases at the workplace and the lower the filter’s capacity, the sooner the filter will lose its effectiveness.
  • The filter will lose its effectiveness sooner during heavy work, because the user will then breathe in more air, which will be passing through the filter.
  • Humid conditions.
  • By storing used gas filters.

If you have any doubts about the filter’s remaining useful life, ask your Safety Coordinator for assistance!

Reference to PPE Manual: Quality – Version 2023 - All documents (sharepoint.com)

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