This equipment should be a last resort. Masks may seem attractive, at first, given that they offer the impression of protection and seem cheaper than a comprehensive filtration system. However, they have many significant drawbacks, including:
- Masks often fit poorly, especially over facial hair. A poorly fitting mask might not keep out dangerous particulates.
- Units are cumbersome and uncomfortable. A common sight is workers pulling off their masks as soon as their task is complete, regardless of the air quality around them.
- Powered units need batteries that must be charged frequently.
- When personal protective equipment is the only air quality remedy being used, other workers not wearing masks in the facility will be exposed. Even small amounts of certain particulates can cause serious health problems.
- When masks are the only remedy to air quality problems, regulatory compliance will likely be in danger.
- In these facilities, the air quality will be visibly poor, creating an image problem for visitors, customers and new recruits.
- Untreated air can also damage equipment, as dust and grime accumulates on surfaces and in machinery.
- Personal protective equipment is expensive, in the long run. While the initial investment may seem modest, there are long-term costs that are unavoidable. In particular, disposable filters must be replaced frequently—a cost that adds up quickly.