Here's the respirator in its package. This is actually the second one we bought, which we did yesterday in Reno while trying to find parts for the existing one, about which I will explain shortly. Ideally, each person should have their own mask anyway, so if I need to work with her close up on things with noxious fumes, I could use this one. Also, under the current conditions, it's probably prudent to have spares on hand.
The mask does make you look like a kind of bug-eyed monster when wearing it, but Lisa says it works really well. While spray-painting the swamp cooler, she said she couldn't smell anything, whereas I could smell it many meters away. And breathing in it, she says, is much easier than normal simple masks. OTOH, I think that's because of one-way filters in the mask, meaning that you wouldn't want to wear it for the blocking purposes of "normal" face coverings.
This is the mask Lisa has been using for several months now. There are two replaceable respirator cartridges that attach to each side of the mask. These apparently last no more than six months regardless of use, because once you open the sealed package, they start absorbing stuff out of the surrounding air. Therefore, don't open the package until you're ready to use it.
On the right side in this photo you can see the outer particulate filter or "pre-filter," which fits over the cartridge and is held in place with the clear plastic filter retainer.
While working under the house on the phone/cable wiring project a few days ago, Lisa accidentally knocked one retainer off and the particulate filter went with it. She didn't immediately find it, which set of a series of events and longish drives to try and get replacement parts.
Here's what a brand new set of respirator cartridges look like out of the package.
But this is what one looks like after a few months of use and especially after the pre-filter and bracket fell off.
Lisa did eventually recover the bracket and pre-filter that fell off when she got more parts (about which more in a moment). This is what the used filter looks like next to the bracket.
Put them together and snap them onto the cartridge and they form the first layer of defense against particulate matter.
It's probably no surprise that there's been a run on these masks and their parts. On Saturday, misled by an inaccurate inventory system, we drove all the way to Truckee where Ace Hardware's system (and the store's own inventory) claimed that there was one of the respirators for sale. They didn't have it. They did have one pair of respirator cartridges, but none of the outer pre-filters. We also checked with Sherwin-Williams in South Reno, where we were also able to get some more cartridges, but no pre-filters.
Yesterday, we went back into Reno to a different Sherwin-Williams store, the Commercial Paint outlet. They were also out of pre-filters and cartridges, but they did have two new respirators and a sign limiting purchases to 1 per person. We only bought one. When we got home, I was able to find boxes of pre-filters available online and bought a couple of boxes of them, along with a spare pair of retainers.
Lisa also discovered that she'd accidentally installed two pre-filters initially (the respirator comes with two sets of two pre-filters), so until the replacements arrive in a few days, she can use the extra one stuffed under the bracket that didn't pop off to get her working again using the replacement cartridges.
Lisa is much happier doing this work in areas with noxious air wearing this respirator (and goggles), and I am, too.