People who work in dusty areas that have non-toxic dust particulates in the air wear dust masks as a form of respiratory protection. Typical areas where such masks are employed are road construction sites, dusty manufacturing atmospheres, foundries, light sand blasting areas, woodworking, places where workers engage in light paintwork, cement and asbestos manufacturing areas, and clean rooms. People who are suffering from pollen and other types of air borne allergies, and regular commuters who walk in polluted streets also often wear dust masks as protective equipment.
Dust masks are simple in construction as they have filters between layers of filtering cloths. The filter elements need to be cleaned periodically with running water and light detergents because the dust particles will accumulate in them. In some laboratories such as pharmacies and surgery rooms, dust masks are specially sterilized to prevent contaminants, such as bacteria and moisture from workers.
Dust masks are self-supporting masks and are not actual respirators. However, they will provide some respiratory protection to the lungs. A good dust mask should fit to the contour of you face and cover the nose and mouth area. Dust masks can be tied with draw strings, an adjustable nose clip and a strap, or may have elastic bands that fix the mask to the back of the head. The adjustable straps should be tightened to create a secure seal between the mask and the face.
Dust masks are available in a variety of shapes and colors, and they can be purchased by the box and in bulk shipments. Dust masks should be checked regularly and if there are any signs of cracks, discoloration, holes, strap wear, or rubber breakage in them, they should be disposed of and should not be worn. Disposable dust masks are also available which are meant to be worn once, and then properly disposed of.
Dust masks are quite inexpensive to produce and to purchase however their low cost shouldn't be associated with the importance of the job that they do. The regular wearing of a dust mask may save you from health problems later on in life.