Home > News > RPE – Respiratory protection

RPE – Respiratory protection

A typical dustmask in use.

If you work in certain environments or perform certain activities,  workers can become exposed to harmful particles that are present the air; such as dust, mist, vapour, gas or even fumes. To overcome this, ensure you outfit yourself with the correct RPE.

So what is RPE?

RPE is the general term that describes all dust masks and respirators. It stands for “Respiratory Protective Equipment”.
There are several different types of RPE available:

Dust masks – Dust masks come in three basic levels of protection, FFP1, FFP2, FFP3 with valved and un-valved styles. They are ideal for a number of roles, with the lower levels of protection ideal for particulates such as wood and cement dust. For more hazardous particles such as asbestos, a level 3 dust mask would be advised. Dust masks are a “single shift” product, that means they have a life of around 8 hours, potentially less. The different levels will reduce the amount of particles breathed in by factors of 4, 10 and 20 respectively. Dust masks, as the name suggests – are only really suitable for “hard” particles, vapour and gasses will seep through and cause irritation.

Protection Level OEL Protection APF Protection
 FFP1  4x  4x
 FFP2  12x  10x
 FFP3  50x  20x
OEL = Occupational Exposure Limit |  APF = Assigned Protection Factor

Half and full face respirator masks – Unlike dust masks, respirators are intended for extended use. When maintained correctly, they will offer many years of effective usage. This type of RPE is far more adaptable than the dust masks, as they come in single or double filter styles. They attach with a bayonet connection, and there are a number of different filters which can be attached to provide protection against a wide range of hazards.

Below is a simple guide to the types of protection common filters give . They are universally colour coded for ease of use.


Colour Code Hazard Filter Type
 Brown  Organic Vapour  A
 Grey  Inorganic Vapour  B
 Yellow  Acid Gases  E
 Green  Ammonia  K
 White  Particulate  P


See our excellent range of Respirators and accessories online in our store now.

Leave a Reply