Filtering Facepiece

Last updated: December 13, 2019

What Does Filtering Facepiece Mean?

Filtering facepieces are a type of respirator designed to protect the wearer from inhaling airborne particulate matter. The entire facepiece acts as the filtration unit, and is fit tightly around the mouth to create a seal.

Filtering facepieces are usually a disposable, single-use items. In the United States, a filtering facepice that does not meet the standards of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is designated as a "dust mask."

Safeopedia Explains Filtering Facepiece

Filtering facepieces are negative-pressure respirators that rely on the wearer to draw air through the mask by breathing. Because they allow the movement of gas through the mask itself, they are not effective at protecting workers against gases or vapors. They only provide substantial protection against solids and fumes (e.g., welding fumes).

The filtering facepiece is the most common type of occupational respirator. In the United States, the most commonly used are N95 facepieces, which filters out 95% of non-oil based aerosol particulate matter.

The N95 mask is not appropriate for use in contexts in which certain highly toxic substances are present. In these cases, OSHA requires the use of “100” level efficiency filters, which filter out 99.97% of particulates from the air.

Because of their ubiquity in healthcare and laboratory settings, many filtering facepiece are rated specifically for their ability to protect against biohazards such as tuberculosis.


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