The global pandemic currently plaguing the world has posed a lot of challenges to lives. It has led to changes in habits and social interactions. These habits are being formed to curtail the spread of this pandemic as suggested by health bodies. One of these changes includes the constant wearing of face masks in public.

Wearing of the face mask has never been a usual thing. Therefore, it is very pertinent to note that the long duration required for the wearing may bring about discomfort. Hence, attention must be focused on certain qualities and features possessed by these face masks for appropriateness, safety and convenience. Workers want masks that are comfortable, light weighted and convenient for use. More importantly, the products must come from a completely trustworthy supplier.

Different environments and conditions are responsible for the manufacturing of different types of face masks. Before using a face mask, some factors should be considered to determine which one would be appropriate. These factors include the kind of contaminants expected in the relevant environment, as well as the exposure time for the mask use. Users must also consider the concentration level of contaminants. There must be a good seal between the face and the sealing surface of the respirator. It must also be appropriately fitted to the wearer’s face.

It is nearly impossible to have a face mask that completely fits all purposes and the demand to have that is what keeps the creativity and innovation of newer face masks with better qualities. 3M as a reputable brand offers a wide variety of National Institute for Occupational Safety Health (NIOSH, a Federal government regulatory agency) approved filtering face respirators to help provide the complementing respirator for the required task. The tasks for which users need particulate respirators could be sweeping, sanding, grinding, welding, sawing, bagging, etc.

The 8210 plus particulate respirators belong to the N95 class of NIOSH, and it is a comfort model. It is regarded as a widely used disposable particulate respirators in the industry because of the numerous features possessed by it. Its design is to help provide reliable respiratory protection. The other classes of NIOSH respirators are R95, P95, N100, P100 classes, etc.

The features possessed by this mask are unique and are categorized as follows:

  • General: The approximate weight of the 8210 plus particulate respirator is 0.35 oz. This feature promotes greater worker acceptance and helps to increase the wear time. This respirator is also designed to help reduce inhalation exposures to certain airborne biological particles (examples: mould, Bacillus anthracis, Myobacterium tuberculosis), but cannot eliminate the risk of contracting infection, illness, or disease. The product has a great deal of compatibility with a variety of protective eyewear and hearing devices.
  • Filtration: NIOSH has approved that it has at least 95 per cent filtration efficiency against certain non-oil based particles. Filtration is done through the layers of the masks which filter out large and smaller particles to disallow inhalation of particles into the nose. They also act as a simple barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from travelling into the air from the wearer. It does not filter oil-based particles; therefore, it is inappropriate for use in environments where oil-based particles are easily found.
  • Advanced Electrostatic Media: The respirator incorporates 3M’s proprietary technology with advanced filter media with electrostatically charged microfiber designed for ease of breathing. A high level of electrostatic charge is being injected into microfibers arranged in an open formation that allows for more passage of air via the medium. The highly charged microfibers greatly enhance the capture of airborne particles and enable this respirator to have reduced breathing resistance. This filter media is unique and highly effective as workers value this advantage of the 3M brand. In fact, a 2012 blind study revealed that workers rated the respirators as more comfortable to breathe through when compared to others. It has the lowest breathing resistance when compared to several competitive respirators.
  • Comfortable Braided Headbands: The 8210 plus particulate respirator is an upgrade from the 8210 particulate respirators, and it has been designed to provide ultimate comfort. It has a staple-free attachment which has a two-strap design with welded dual point attachment. This feature helps to provide a secure seal. These straps are made from thermoplastic elastomer and were created to ensure a very close facial fit as well as a very efficient filtration of airborne particles. The edges are also intended to form a seal around the nose and mouth.
  • Soft Nose Foam: This foam is made from polyurethane and is designed for cushioning to reduce pain and provide more comfort while wearing. It avoids the hard layer of the cotton mask directly touching the face as it may hurt. It also serves as anti-fog for glass wearers as it protects the glasses from being blurred by the warm exhale air from the mouth. This feature also helps men to adjust the integrating degree between different people and different masks.
  • Adjustable Nose clip: The 8210 plus respirators have an adjustable nose clip which is made from aluminum that helps to provide a custom fit and secure seal.
  • Others: The assigned protection factor for 8210 plus respirator is 10. This respirator has cartridge or filter included in it.

It has a white color, as designed by the manufacturer. However, it does not have an exhalation valve. Its exhalation valve makes breathing out more comfortable and helping in reducing heat buildup. However, respirators with exhalation valves should not be used when sterile conditions are needed.

8210plus is made with nose foam as opposed to face seal that some others respirators have. It does not have resistance to flame (ASTM D2859-96). It also does not have fluid resistance (ASTM F1862) as it is not available. Each face mask is not individually wrapped and has no component made from natural rubber latex.

The respirator style is cup-like. The shelf life of 8210 plus respirator is five years. Its size is also described as "standard". It is classified as an unvalved N95 mask. Additionally, the strap attachment type is braided comfort strap. The 8210 plus particulate respirators do not have an acid-gas reduction, and they also have buckle straps which are not adjustable. They are not compatible with welding shield and do not filter carbon material.

Recommendation

8210plus comes recommended for use in the following industries: commercial buildings, construction, design and construction, food processing, food safety, general manufacturing, heavy infrastructure, mining, oil and gas transportation.

Additionally, its features support the recommended use in areas like assembly and mechanical, bagging, cleaning, composite finishing, dry chemical handling, final finish, foundry operations, grinding, lead abatement, paint preparation, petrochemical manufacturing, pharmaceutical manufacturing, sanding, welding.

The 3M 8210 plus is also used for general purpose for dust and other particles, and more for airborne biological particles like those from the COVID-19 virus.

Precautionary Measures

Features of 8210 plus respirator do not support use for gases, vapors, oil aerosols, asbestos, arsenic, cadmium, lead, 4,4-methylene dianiline (MDA), or abrasive blasting. Do not also use for particulate concentrations exceeding 10 × PEL/OEL. They should not be reused as they are made for single-use, and two or more users should not share them.

If it becomes soiled or damaged, or if breathing becomes difficult, you should remove the respirator, discard it properly, and replace with a new one. People with chronic cardiac, respiratory or other medical conditions that makes breathing difficult should check with their health care provider before using the respirator because it can make it more difficult for the wearer to breathe. The product was not made for children or people with facial hair. This is because a proper fit cannot be achieved on children and people with facial hair and will not provide full protection.

While companies and other offices have their face mask standards, the regular user may not understand the peculiarity of each face mask. However, the manufacturer's manual suggests that misuse could lead to death or severe health effects. Therefore, it is advisable to use the masks properly and follow all the precautions by avoiding use when it is inappropriate. Companies looking to supply this product to their workers need to educate them on these precautions.

Conclusion

The demand of face masks is rising globally. This demand has led to a variation its production and users wearing different types of face masks with little or no knowledge on the features and appropriation of these masks. The 8210 plus respirator offers excellent protection and features a lightweight construction for greater worker comfort and increased wear time. This face mask built by the 3M brand is unique on its own and has some differences from other kinds of face masks.

Finally, every user needs to keep it in mind that this product, just as other respirators, was made to protect users. Respirators help to achieve this by helping users avoid even non-harmful particles from entering their nose, mouth and lungs. The filter also helps in preventing bad odors. However, they cannot protect users from an already existing risk of illness or death. Hence, users with pre-existing health issues need to address them, regardless of the nose mask.

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