Toolbox Talk: Respect the importance of the dust mask

Respect the importance of the dust mask

The dust mask is a very important personal protective equipment (PPE) because of its role in reducing the amount of dust which passes through the nostrils into the system.

Over the years, some workers have relegated the importance of the dust mask to the background because of a negative believe that IT DOESN’T WORK.

This believe has been due to ignorance. Seeing some dust particles surrounding the nose region after pulling off the dust mask or recovering some dust particles from the nasal cavity after a task doesn’t mean the dust mask is not working.

Before i proceed, let me explain how the body protects itself against foreign particles trying to have access into the body through the nasal cavity.

  • Any foreign particles trying to gain access into the body through the nasal cavity is first trapped by the hairs inside the nasal cavity.
  • The part which eludes the nasal hairs and goes down to nasal mucosa, on making contact with mucous membrane, it will trigger sneezing reflex thereby forcefully expelling mucous containing the foreign particles.
  • The foreign particles that escapes into the lower respiratory tract, on making contact with the epithelial lining of the trachea and bronchioles will trigger the cough reflex, resulting in expulsion of the foreign matter.

Hence, the body respond to intrusion of foreign particles through three protective mechanism.

Now that we have established how the body operates naturally, the question now is this:


Is the body protective mechanism not enough?

Assuming dust generation is about 500µg/m3, the dust mask if worn appropriately has the capacity to shield more than 80% of the dust generated from getting into the nasal cavity, allowing the system to expel and metabolize the remaining 20%.

Hence, the dust mask reduces the quantity of dust that gain access into the body system and also reduce the burden on the body system to either expel the dust or metabolize it.

This is why we should place importance on the dust mask when ever we are carrying out an activity involving dust generation.


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