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Dust Respirator Question
Old 07-22-2011, 01:27 PM   #1
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Dust Respirator Question

Got tired of breathing in the dust from kitty litter cleaning so bought a dust respirator.

Amazon.com: MSA Safety Works 817664 Toxic Dust Respirator: Home Improvement

This respirator is very comforable to wear and I don't fell like I'm suffocating like wearing other respirators.

However, I do notice some odor still gets through to me via the exhale valve.

I thought you know a good respirator is working if you can't smell anything. Is that true?

I Have another respirator that I've used to wood stain and it totally blocks out the smell. Though that isn't as comfortable to wear as this one.
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Old 07-22-2011, 03:05 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by easysurfer View Post
However, I do notice some odor still gets through to me via the exhale valve.
It's hard to tell exactly what is going on in these cases. First, it's unlikely that the exhale valve is the culprit, provided that the mask isn't really dirty and that the little valve isn't damaged.

First, check the fit of the mask. Put it on and then tightly close off the inlets (on the outside of the filters) and breath in. There shouldn't be any leakage as you hold your breath.

One likely problem you might have is the type of filters you are using. Unless you've got an activated carbon filter in the mask, you're going to smell the "ammonia" and other organic vapors from the litterbox. But, the particulate filter in the mask might still be doing an excellent job of protecting you from dust, etc.

So, why are you wearing the mask (what are you trying to accomplish)? Cut down on dust? Avoid the odor? Avoid bacterial/viral bodies?
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Old 07-22-2011, 03:15 PM   #3
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Thanks for the post. Tried two different types of filters. First type, dust filter that came with the respirator. Second type, a multi-filter (for lead paint, pesticides). In both cases, odor still goes through.

Did testing...blocking area of filter to make sure no leaks there...that's when I noticed plenty of air seems to come through the exhale valve. I taped up the exhale valve to test (with electrical tape) and this seems to block out the oder (makes it more difficult to breath, though). Haven't done the hold my breath test...great suggestion.

That's why seems strange to me. If I was using stuff like pesticides, would want to still be able to smell that, I'd think.

What I'm trying to accomplish? Block most I can..litter box dust, and airborne oder as I do the scooping.
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Old 07-22-2011, 03:29 PM   #4
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If the filters say "P100" and they are also recommended for pesticides, then you've got the highest level of filtration normally available. I've used these for some fairly smelly jobs, and sometimes I can discern a slight odor even with a well-fitting mask.

I'd recommend trying to improve the fit (tighten down the straps, adjust them in different ways so that it fits better--the most common leakage points are around the nose). Also, take the mask apart, clean it well, and inspect the little flapper disk valve to make sure it is in good shape.

For what it's worth, I can't imagine wearing a respirator to clean out a litter box, but I guess I'm just lazy. One deep breath outside the room, quick scoop, scoop, scoop into the baggie, escape with the evidence and breathe. If the thing was objectionable enough to make me wear a respirator for cleaning it, I'd consider reduce the interval between visits/litter replacement. But, I know next to nothing about this, I've only cat-sitted a few times.
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Old 07-22-2011, 05:42 PM   #5
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The filter is P100. From what I've seen (tested too), I really don't sense any leakage and the mask is brand new and looks fine (doesn't look defective or anything).

Anyhow, decided to not worry too much about it. Still works a whole lot better than no mask.

Thanks again for the suggestions.
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Old 07-22-2011, 06:04 PM   #6
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And stop feeding your cat cheese sausages.
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Old 07-22-2011, 07:02 PM   #7
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To test fit, use your hands to cover the inhalation covers (two sides) and inhale. The mask should suck in. Then cover the exhalation vent and exhale. The mask will expand and leak around the rubber and skin at the weakest point. If you fail these tests, adjust and/or tighten the mask straps and retest. As was said before, double check the flapper to the exhalation valve. It can stick open and let (toxic cat smell) air through. Sardines are worse than cheese sausage IMO.
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Old 07-22-2011, 11:01 PM   #8
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Inexpensive masks with replaceable filters that can be trimmed to fit. Haven't tried them yet. TOTOBOBO mask, most advanced respiratory protection for cyclist, artist and children

Nose clips designed for swimmers will help with the odor.
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Old 07-23-2011, 06:59 AM   #9
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You could also use the much cheaper ones that look like surgical masks. The standard for them is N95. These are what are issued to first responders around here who go into hazardous areas (including where highly contagious diseases may be present).
Amazon.com: 3M 8511 Particulate Sanding Respirator N95 with Valve, 10-Pack: Home Improvement
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Old 07-23-2011, 11:03 AM   #10
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My old megacorp had a policy of fit-testing for all those who used respirators. We used irritants and "banana oil". It was kind of scary how often a given person might not be "fitable" with a given respirator. Fortunately, there were lots of choices, so it was rare not to be able to fit someone with a tight-fitting respirator. Our final back up was to use an air supplied respirator (not typically available next to the litter box, unfortunately).

Regarding odor. Some odors are so detectable by humans that even a protection factor of 100 may not be enough to prevent detection. IIRC, the human olfactory system attenuates odors so that a "lot" of odor fatigues the olfactory system but a small amount of odor is detected most efficiently. You may be bumping up against this problem with cat odor.

Have you considered one of the "As Seen On TV" solutions to cat box issues? Some of them look pretty slick (if they actually work). DW always got the cat box duty back in the day. Don't miss those days though I miss the kitties.
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Old 07-25-2011, 02:30 PM   #11
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If first you don't succeed, try try again...as the saying goes..

I ended up returning the respirator which I had. Too bad as it was very comfortable. But I never could get it to filter out odor.

Then I got a paint/organic vapor respirator.

This one: Amazon.com: 3M R6211 Low-Maintenance Half-Mask Organic Vapor, P95 Respirator Assembly, Medium: Dean Martin: Home Improvement

It seems 100% effective. No odor whatsoever gets through when using. Great Stuff!
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Old 07-25-2011, 02:42 PM   #12
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What kind of litter do you use? I had to cat sit for a friend who used cat litter like Fresh Step Clumping Litter (or any typical grey litter sold in supermarkets) and it was so dusty. And the smell of the litter lingered in my nostrils for hours afterward.

I use Nature's Miracle Litter (sold at pet shops)
Amazon.com: Nature's Miracle Odor Control Clumping Cat Litter 10 Pounds: Kitchen & Dining
It is 99% dust free. It is much lighter than the grey colored litter and seems to last for ever.
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Old 07-25-2011, 04:10 PM   #13
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I use Arm and Hammer

Amazon.com: Arm and Hammer Clumping Cat Litter, Multi-Cat Strength, 40 Pound Box: Kitchen & Dining

There are two kittens that use the same box. I know, should have their own box..but they live like college dorm mates . One male, one female, of the same litter.
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Old 07-25-2011, 05:27 PM   #14
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I believe Arm and Hammer one is just like Fresh Step (grey sandy litter). I still recommend you try Nature's Miracle litter just to see the difference. All the better if you do not have to wear the mask (and I imagine it would be hard to put these things on your kitties. )
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Old 07-25-2011, 10:03 PM   #15
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As foir odor control, I've found Arm and Hammer pretty good (better than the less expensive kitty litter, such as from dollar stores).
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Omega Paw Self Cleaning Litter Box
Old 07-25-2011, 10:18 PM   #16
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Omega Paw Self Cleaning Litter Box

Amazon.com: Omega Paw Self-Cleaning Litter Box, Large, Green and Beige: Kitchen & Dining


try this litter box....it works great. no more scooping up clumps and dispersing fine powder. We have two cats (bro + sis) that are nine years old and they had no problem switching to this setup. You simply roll it over to the right, then roll it to the left, and then pull the drawer out and dump it into your trash. I do this every other day....no more scooping.
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Old 07-25-2011, 10:27 PM   #17
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Amazon.com: Omega Paw Self-Cleaning Litter Box, Large, Green and Beige: Kitchen & Dining


try this litter box....it works great. no more scooping up clumps and dispersing fine powder. We have two cats (bro + sis) that are nine years old and they had no problem switching to this setup. You simply roll it over to the right, then roll it to the left, and then pull the drawer out and dump it into your trash. I do this every other day....no more scooping.

That looks really really interesting. Thanks.
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Old 05-13-2014, 06:21 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by easysurfer View Post
Got tired of breathing in the dust from kitty litter cleaning so bought a dust respirator.

Amazon.com: MSA Safety Works 817664 Toxic Dust Respirator: Home Improvement

This respirator is very comforable to wear and I don't fell like I'm suffocating like wearing other respirators.

However, I do notice some odor still gets through to me via the exhale valve.

I thought you know a good respirator is working if you can't smell anything. Is that true?

I Have another respirator that I've used to wood stain and it totally blocks out the smell. Though that isn't as comfortable to wear as this one.
I don't think that just because a respirator doesn't block out smell means that it's a bad one, especially if it's comfortable and keeps out dust. You might could try scenting the mask with something that's not too strong but would overpower the odor.
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Old 05-13-2014, 06:27 PM   #19
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There is a federal standard for respirator masks called N95 that you should look for, whether for painting, cat litter, or most other purposes.

The masks will filter at least 95% of airborne particles. This is the standard used in most hospitals for workers around infectious diseases.

You can generally find masks labeled N95 in most good hardware stores, and they are not expensive.

The odors will get through regardless, so you really don't have to worry about them.
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Old 05-13-2014, 06:52 PM   #20
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There are basically two different types of respirators: Particulate filters and Chemical Cartridge Respirators. The first one you had was probably a particulate filter and basicaly just filters out down to the mesh size of the filter. Generally when you're smelling stuff, its vapor and chemicals. So a particulate filter is not so effective for that.

The organic vapor respirator you bought was chemical cartridge respirator. There are different types of cartridges designed to filter out different chemicals. Most of the higher end respirators I've seen and can swap to different cartridges (including particulate filters) on the same mask.

NIOSH is the organization that sets industrial standards for respirators. CDC - Respirators - NIOSH Workplace Safety and Health Topic
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