Recommended dust masks for protection from volcanic ash

This document can be downloaded here as a PDF file.
IVHHN Recommended Dust Masks.pdf

Introduction

Mask types and standards

Recommended masks

Finding a good mask

A good fit

Children

Occupational exposure

Storage

Warning

References

Introduction

Following an eruption, volcanic ash can cause irritation of the airways and lungs and, if breathed in over many years, could cause lung disease. Whilst volcanic ash is suspended in the air, it is vital that the population exposed protects themselves by wearing masks. For the public, use of masks is only necessary whilst the levels of suspended dust are above background levels. For those involved in clean-up operations, garden maintenance or even people who are cleaning houses and property, masks should be worn at all times whilst the ash is mobile in the atmosphere.

 


Mask types and standards

For protection against volcanic ash, high-efficiency, light-weight disposable masks/respirators are appropriate. The mask must provide protection at the highest concentration the person will experience. Suitable disposable masks are 'CE' marked to show that the design has been tested to a recognised standard. They will also be marked with the standard (e.g. EN 149:2001 in the EU or N95 in the US) and an additional code such as FFP1 (low efficiency), FFP2 (medium efficiency) or FFP3 (high efficiency) (FFP = Filtering Face Piece) is shown on EU masks. The US N95 standard is roughly equivalent to FFP2 or 3 as it is efficient up to 10 x the local occupational exposure limit (see Table 2). The higher the FFP number, the more protection the respirator can provide if it is used properly. Pre-2001 masks may also distinguish between those suitable for solids and liquids e.g. FFP2S. Disposable masks cover the nose, mouth and part of the chin. Some of them contain exhaling valves. An elastic band around the head and neck keeps them in place.

valve_mask mask

Figures 1 & 2. Masks may either be fitted with or without valves.

Valve masks are more comfortable, especially for those wearing spectacles which might otherwise mist up. They are appropriate for hot and humid climates.

 


Recommended masks

The following tables give examples of appropriate respirators provided by the company 3M. There are many other manufacturers (e.g. Willson, Moldex, Uline, Pyramex, see web addresses in References section) who make similar masks.

Table 1. Maintenance-free respirators from 3M, UK and EU models.
All conform to EN149 standard. LOEL = Local Occupational Exposure Limit.
UK 3M Product No. Mask shape Efficiency Occ. Limit Valve present Information
8011 Hard cup FFP1 4 x LOEL No Basic mask
8812 Soft cup FFP1 4 x LOEL Yes  
8710E Soft cup FFP1 4 x LOEL No  
9312 Folded FFP1 4 x LOEL Yes  
9310 Folded FFP1 4 x LOEL No  
8822 Soft cup FFP2 10 x LOEL Yes Good in humid
8825 Soft cup FFP2D 10 x LOEL Yes Good in humid
8810 Soft cup FFP2 10 x LOEL No  
9322 Folded FFP2 10 x LOEL Yes Good in humid
9320 Folded FFP2 10 x LOEL No  
8835 Soft cup FFP3D 20 x LOEL Yes Good in humid
9332 Folded FFP3 20 x LOEL Yes Good in humid

 

Table 2. Maintenance-free respirators from 3M, US/Canada models.
All conform to NIOSH 42CFR84 N95 or N100 standards.
LOEL = Local Occupational Exposure Limit.
US 3M Product No. Mask shape Efficiency Occ. Limit Valve present Information
8000 Hard cup N95 - No Short duration
8210 & 8110S Soft cup N95 10 x LOEL No  
8511 & 8211 Soft cup N95 10 x LOEL Yes Good in humid
9210 Folded N95 10 x LOEL No Good for comfort
9211 Folded N95 10 x LOEL Yes
Good for humid
8233 Soft cup N100 10 x LOEL Yes
99.97 % filter efficiency

 

Table 3. Maintenance-free respirators from 3M, Japan models.
All conform to the industrial safety and health law (Law No. 57 of 1972).
Efficiency: D = disposable; S = solid; L = liquid. 1,2,3 roughly equivalent to FFP1,2,3.
Japan 3M Product No. Mask shape Efficiency Time Limit for use Valve present Information
8511 Soft cup DS2 27 hours Yes  
8812 Soft cup DS1 12 hours Yes  
8233 Soft cup DS3 38 hours Yes  
8577 Soft cup DL2 23 hours Yes Good in humid
8210J Soft cup DS2 13 hours No  
8710 Soft cup DS1 14 hours No  
9913 Soft cup DS1 11 hours No  
8000J Hard cup DS1 3 hours No  
9322 Folded DS2 18 hours Yes  
9312 Folded DS1 19 hours Yes  

 

The UK/EU respirators are tested for penetration of particles > 0.5 µm diameter and the US respirators are tested to > 0.3 µm diameter. We recommend that valved respirators are used in hot or humid climates although they will aid comfort in all environments. The respirators distributed to a population should be chosen with the occupation of the people and the airborne dust concentration in mind. For example, for the general population exposed to suspended volcanic dust, the FFP1 mask might be appropriate if the dust levels do not exceed 4 x the local occupational exposure limit. For workers involved in clean-up operations, gardening or other high-exposure jobs, FFP2 or FFP3 are recommended. We recommend folded masks as they are individually packed, allowing clean storage, and easy and hygienic distribution. However, the folded masks can fit less well on people with small faces or chins.

 


Finding a good mask

A respirator must pass three tests:

  • It must be capable of providing adequate protection.
  • It must fit you properly and it must be compatible with any other personal protective equipment that you wear at the same time.
  • In addition, you must always use it correctly for it to be fully effective.

Respirators only protect you if they fit properly without any leakage around the nose or chin. Even expensive respirators are unsuitable if they do not give a good seal with the face. A good fit relies on close contact between the respirator and smooth skin without hair in the region of the seal. Consequently a beard or beard stubble can affect the fit and reduce protection. Many manufacturers make respirators in different sizes to allow for variations in the shape and size of faces. You should not expect one respirator to fit everyone. If you are responsible for providing masks for a community, you should order them in several different sizes and types. It will not be possible to individually fit masks to every person in a population, however. If resources allow, special effort should be taken to fit masks for occupationally-exposed individuals and other high-exposure groups.

 


A good fit

To check if a respirator fits properly, ensure that the straps and any strip for moulding the respirator around the bridge of your nose are correctly adjusted. Then hold the respirator in place and breathe in or out sharply. If you detect any leakage around your face you should readjust the respirator and retest. See bottom of document for further instructions.

 


Children

Unfortunately respirators are not made to fit children's faces. For this reason, children must be kept indoors and stopped from playing in dusty environments whilst ash is present.

 


Occupational exposure

For continuous labour in dusty conditions, full-face non-disposable respirators with changeable filters will be more appropriate and are also more comfortable to wear in hot, humid conditions. For extreme conditions see: http://www.3m.com/intl/za/ohes_airstream.html for Airstream Powered Helmets.

 


Storage

Although the masks are disposable, if supplies are limited they can be stored for re-use in a clean bag or box to ensure that dust from the outside does not contaminate them. They should not be hung in a dusty environment. They must be replaced at the first sign of breathing difficulty.

 


Warning

It is possible to buy cheap masks called 'nuisance dust masks', 'comfort masks' or 'hygiene masks'. They may look similar to lightweight disposable masks but they are not intended for use in dusty environments and are not marked 'CE' or 'EN149/N95'. Instead, the package may say something like 'This product does not provide respiratory protection'. Unless the product clearly states that it conforms to a recognised standard, do not use these masks for protection from volcanic ash.

 


References

Dust mask manufacturers:

Mask fitting instructions:

Health & safety guidelines:

 

 


 

Acknowledgements

This document was written by a panel of IVHHN expert members. IVHHN is grateful to the Leverhulme Trust, UK, for funding associated meetings.

IVHHN is also grateful to the following people:
Yasuhiro Ishimine, National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention, Bosai, Japan for researching Japanese health and safety guidelines.
Jim Chisholm, UK Health & Safety Executive, for reviewing the document.
 

 


3M Mask Fitting Instructions

3M Mask Instructions

 
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