Ensuring a proper breathing environment is crucial to staying healthy, no matter where you are. You probably already know to use breathing protection if you work with toxic fumes or heavy vapors, but here are some less expected times when you should use respiratory protection or masks.
- Exercising in a Polluted City
You need regular exercise to stay healthy. If you live in a city and you’re committed to outdoor exercising (running, biking, skating, even walking), you should consider a breathing mask. You’ll want something lightweight and comfortable so that it doesn’t interfere with your athletic performance, but make sure it filters out some of the particulate you encounter on a daily basis.
If you are mostly concerned about large ash particles, dust, and flying debris, then the filtration system doesn’t need to be very sophisticated. However, if you’re guarding against pollutants you can’t even see, then you should invest in a mask with documented filtration.
In addition, because you’re exercising, you will be breathing harder, so make sure the mask doesn’t interfere with that.
When you’re choosing any respiratory protection or mask, make sure it fits comfortably. It should be snug enough to create a seal, but not so tight that it’s uncomfortable. Remember, if it is uncomfortable, you won’t wear it. If you don’t wear it, you won’t get any of the benefits.
- DIY Home Improvement Tasks
Even if you’re an experienced home improvement hobbyist and you’ve never used respiratory protection before, now is the time to start. You can’t change the past, but you can decide to protect yourself going forward.
Painting or cleaning with chemicals leaves you exposed to harsh inhalants and vapors. Sanding, sawing, and demolition work expose you to bits of debris that you can unwittingly inhale. Protect yourself by using a mask that guards you against these occupational pollutants while allowing you to breathe easily so you can do your job.
Improving your home is a great investment and can be fun. It shouldn’t be unhealthy. Wearing a mask will help to ensure your safety and well-being. While you’re at it, don’t forget the eye protection, too!
- Working with Plants and Animals
Whether you’re a vet or a pet groomer, if you’re exposed to fur and dander, it’s a good idea to wear a mask. Even if you’re not allergic to animal fur, the constant exposure can irritate your nose and throat and leave you feeling uncomfortable.
The same is true if you are a landscaper or a casual gardener. Anyone can have occasional hay fever or sensitivity to pollen. If this is a seasonal annoyance to you, then wearing a simple filtration mask might be easier than having the doctor conduct blood tests and prescribe allergy medication.
If you’re unsure, you can start with an inexpensive, disposable face mask. If it helps, but you think you can do better, then go ahead an upgrade to a more sophisticated mask.
- Cleaning the House
If you’re in charge of cleaning your house or someone else’s—or even if you’re just the cleaning assistant—do yourself a favor and wear respiratory protection when you’re working with harsh chemicals.
Even some aerosols that aren’t labelled as harsh can impact your breathing. In addition, many people are adversely impacted by heavy perfumes. So even if a cleaning solution isn’t particularly harsh, but is very densely scented, a mask can help you do your work without being overwhelmed by the aroma.
- Frequent Traveling
Travel is often unpleasant these days. Crowded airports and sold-out airplanes, full-to-the-rim buses, and germy trains. Wearing a mask can offer you some protection and peace of mind if you’re caught in an airplane cabin with a sneezing seat mate. And with the recirculating air, it doesn’t have to be your seat mate who is sneezing. Anyone with a sniffle or a cough puts you at risk for catching a cold.
Whether you’re at the beginning of a vacation or the start of a business trip, you don’t want to get sick if you can avoid it. And if you’re on a plane, train, or bus on a regular basis, then you’re being exposed to other people’s coughs and sneezes over and over again. Nowadays, no one will give you a second look if you wear a mask on a public bus. More than likely, they’ll ask you where they can get one like it.
The other thing to remember is that respiratory protection ranges from simple disposable masks to more sophisticated, filtered respirators. Whatever your job or hobby, there’s respiratory protection to fit your needs. And the list above is by no means complete. Do a little online investigation to find the full range of masks available. If you think you need a mask, use one—your lungs will thank you.