Should You Wear a Mask When Mixing Concrete?

Working in the cement and concrete industry can be a fatal health hazard if the workers do not wear safety equipment. There’s a certain quality standard attached to the effectiveness of PPE against concrete dust.

The most important pieces of safety equipment for concrete mixing are goggles, gloves, and masks. This guide has been specifically curated to walk you through the importance of wearing a mask when mixing concrete.

It is quintessential to wear a mask while mixing cement since, without one, you’ll be inhaling harmful cement dust that contains silica. Not any ordinary mask, but only a NIOSH-certified respirator N95 mask can offer the right amount of protection.

Should You Wear a Mask When Mixing Concrete

Wearing a regular anti-pollution mask while mixing cement won’t be able to filter silica particles. That’s why wearing daily-use masks or just covering your mouth and nose with a piece of cloth is no protection in the cement industry.

You need a proper NIOSH-certified respirator to protect yourself from the hazards of working with concrete. In this guide, you will learn about the importance of wearing masks while mixing concrete, the importance of NIOSH-certified masks, some of the best brands you can trust, and much more. Dive in!

Should You Wear a Mask When Mixing Concrete: Why Is It Important?

It’s all fun and passion emptying concrete bags and working on construction sites until you start wheezing and experience scary bouts of cough!

If that’s been happening to you or any of your coworkers, concrete dust has started showing its effects in full swing. Did you know that concrete dust can cause severe lung abrasion?

Silica is the main constituent of concrete dust. Repeated inhalation of crystallized molecules of silica causes silicosis and even lung cancer. Naturally, since normal masks cannot filter silica, they’re ineffective and of no use in the cement industry.

It is the NIOSH-certified respirator masks that you should wear. It’s extremely important to wear the N-95 masks while mixing concrete because they’re the only pieces of equipment that can practically filter more than 95% silica arising from the cement dust.

Not just silica, the N-95 NIOSH-certified respirators are also impermeable for the fumes that erupt when mixing cement and water.

The bottom line is that it’s important to wear protective respirator masks to prevent inhaling silica dust and toxic fumes that arise when mixing cement and water. Without one, you’re putting yourself at the risk of lung infection, lung cancer, allergies, wheezing, asthma, silicosis, and even lung cancer.

See also: Safety Tips for Concrete Works

What Does NIOSH-Certification Mean: What’s Its Importance?

NIOSH aka the National Institute For Occupational Safety and Health has set certain guidelines for the protection of workers in the cement industry.

When you read the NIOSH-certified respirator label on an n-95 mask, it means that that mask has been tested for quality against major protection from chemicals that rise with cement dust. They filter a minimum of 95% molecules of silica before the air hits your nose.

NIOSH organization usually uses four tests to determine whether or not a respirator mask being released in the market is suited for workplace hazards. The 4 tests are:

      • The NaCl test
      • The DOP test
      • The valve leak test
      • The inhalation/exhalation test.

The entire purpose of all these tests is to find out the protection quotient of the mask and its penetration capacity against different chemical, biological, and even nuclear molecules and fumes in the air.

Only the respirators that successfully block 95% or more molecules are approved by NIOSH.

3 NIOSH-certified Respirators You Should Buy

1.) The N95 Black Mask by BNX

This is the US-made and NIOSH-certified N-95 respirator. The most notable features that have made this mask grab the top spot in our list of protection masks against silica are as follows.

1.) It filters 95% molecules (greater than or equal to 0.3 microns) successfully.

2.) Despite the fact that they offer perfect protection, they’re breathable at the same time. You won’t feel choked even when you wear this mask for long hours.

3.) The headband straps are easy to adjust. It gives a perfect fit. The mask won’t fold down. Hence, you’ll get maximum protection.

4.) The metal nose pieces seal the entry point so that no particles above 0.3 microns can reach your nose.

5.) They’re anti-fog. No matter you wear glasses, your vision won’t be compromised while you’re working with dry concrete.

6.) This mask features the latest 3D build. Hence, it won’t block your mouth, allowing you to speak properly and effortlessly.

2.) N95 NIOSH Certified Particulate Respirator Protective Face Mask by BNX

This is a 4-layer respirator mask that features a Tri-Fold design. Some of the iconic features that make this mask one of the best masks for the cement and construction industries are as follows.

1.) The layer that filters the particles is made of electrostatically charged melt-blown polypropylene. Hence, the mask is breathable.

2.) The dual headband straps will hold the respirator in place. No matter the rigorous work you do, the mask won’t droop or slide down your nose.

3.) The metal nose piece secures the mask further.

3.) N95 NIOSH-Approved Respirator Mask by MedicPro

This NIOSH-Approved respirator has 5 layers of filters that block up to 95% of hazardous molecules. It’s made in the US and has many features that make it another good option for the construction industry.

1.) It’s extremely lightweight. Hence, you won’t feel uncomfortable even if you have to wear it for longer hours.

2.) Since it’s breathable, you won’t feel choked or dizzy despite working in heat and dust.

3.) It’s cost-effective since it’s a reusable mask.

4.) The nose clips and headband straps are comfortable and very easy to adjust. These are two other reasons that wearing this n-95 respirator mask for long continuous hours doesn’t cause any discomfort.

Things to Consider When Buying and Wearing a Mask For Protection From Concrete Dust

There are certain factors that are quintessential to consider if you want the mask you’re wearing to offer the protection that’s promised. Have a look!

1.) There are some brands that sell fake NIOSH-approved masks. Be aware that only original NIOSH-certified masks will offer protection. So, be very careful when buying these masks.

2.) Always make sure that the mask is secured tightly. Adjust the headband strap snugly and pinch the nose metal subtly to take the shape of your nose. Every opening should fit perfectly for the mask to filter silica particles.

3.) Do not buy a mask that’s too big for your face. There are options to choose from. Make sure that the mask sits comfortably at the nose and offers enough room that you can speak without any problem.

See also: Best Dust Mask for Smog and Pollution

How to Identify a Real NIOSH-approved N-95 Mask?

Certain brands selling fake replicas of NIOSH-certified masks are posing serious health risks. Hence, it has become very important that you know how to identify the real NIOSH-certified masks from the fake ones.

Read the quick pointers listed below as they will help you determine that your mask is an original product.

1.) The original NIOSH-approved masks will always feature an approval number as well as an approval label.

2.) The approval number should be clearly embedded either on the facepiece of the mask or the headband straps.

3.) The label of the original NIOSH-approved masks will reveal details that include the name of the manufacturers as well their contact details.

4.) NIOSH in caps is the signature of original n-95 pieces. The fake ones will feature niosh.

Only when a respirator has all the features listed above it can be concluded that it’s an original NIOSH-certified respirator mask.

Concluding Thoughts:

It is very important to wear an n-95 NIOSH-certified respirator mask when mixing concrete. These masks are the only real protection from dangerous silica molecules that arise from cement fumes.

Not wearing the right mask will eventually lead to fatal health conditions such as silicosis and lung cancer. It’s very important to keep your mask on at all times if you want to lead a long healthy life.

Stephen Luettgen
I have 12+ years of experience in construction, inspections, handy work, and currently working as a Construction Site Manager. In today’s day we spent a significant part of our time at workplace and a right work gear can have significant impact not only on your safety but also work quality.

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