Yes Virginia, safety masks are important

Since I was informed that the post on safety glasses helped save someone’s eye (Hi Heather!) we will discuss another important safety topic – safety masks.

I have to admit I have never been a fan of safety masks.  They are usually made for large men and don’t fit my face.  In warm weather they can be very hot and hard to breathe through.  And let’s face it, they are not exactly attractive.

Having said all that I highly recommend you use one whenever you are working on something with any kind of dust.   The main reason is you have no idea what is in that dust and getting into your lungs.  Case in point, when I bought my house I set about ripping up the vinyl tile in my kitchen that was coming apart.  Once I got going I realized that there were another two layers on sticky old tile to rip up.  I worked on it for two days chipping it apart little by little.  It wasn’t until months later that someone mentioned to me that those old tiles could have asbestos in them.   Do you think I was wearing a mask?  Nooooo.  I was way too cool.

And just because you know there are no hazardous materials in your job it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wear a mask.  If you have ever used a power sander you will see your clothes and everything within a mile are covered in a layer of sawdust.  Your face is usually close to the sanding since you need to see what your doing and gets the brunt of it.   If you blow your nose sawdust will come out – gross I know but true.   Just think of how much got through your nose and into your lungs.

I bring this all up because last week I did not follow my own advice.  I was scraping off layers of old paint from a dresser that probably contained some nasty things.   By the time I went to bed, my lungs hurt like i had smoked packs of cigarettes.   Who knows what I had breathed in.  By the next day I had the beginnings of a yucky cold.  I know the dust didn’t give me a cold but maybe my body was so busy fighting off the dust it didn’t have time to fight off the cold.  Either way I felt awful.

So learn from my stupidity and wear a mask.  Here is a basic one from Lowe’s that I used while sanding last week.  When I took it off, you can see all the dust that it filtered out that didn’t go into my lungs.   It’s less than $4.   Use one.   You really aren’t too cool.



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