The cells in our body need oxygen when they burn eg fat and sugar for energy. When the cells create energy, "waste" is also created in the form of carbon dioxide, which the body wants to get rid of. When we breathe in, the oxygen goes down the trachea and further into the lungs. In the lungs, the trachea divides into smaller and smaller tubes and at the end of each trachea there are small bubbles. The actual gas exchange takes place in the alveoli. It´s where the blood takes over the role of transporter of the oxygen out to all the body's cells. It is also in the alveoli that the body gets rid of the carbon dioxide from metabolism via the blood. The carbon dioxide disappears from the body via exhalation. Both functions are important for the body to function normally.
The air that goes down the trachea must be moist and warm. It must be free of dirt and bacteria. The air is cleared in the airways and nasal cavity. The nose hairs capture the coarser particles. The walls of the nasal cavity are always kept moist with the help of the mucous membrane. Coarse dirt particles get stuck there.
If there is not enough oxygen in the air, the body will quickly stop working. Energy production in the cells deteriorates. Muscle strength weakens and vital organs are affected. If the lack of oxygen is prolonged, the cells can be damaged so much that they die. You become unconscious and eventually respiratory arrest occurs.
Gases and vapors from various chemicals are not healthy to breathe. They enter the blood and can damage internal organs. Some gases are even fatal in larger doses. Particles that are inhaled get stuck somewhere in the respiratory system. The coarser particles get stuck in the mucous membranes of the nose and trachea. You can cough up or spit out some of these. The extremely small particles can find their way all the way down to the alveoli and get stuck there.
If these airborne risks cannot be eliminated, a suitable respiratory protection must be used. If the oxygen content in the air is too low, fresh air must be taken from an external source. Against gases, vapors and particles, a respirator equipped with a suitable filter can be used. You inhale the polluted air which has first been purified by the filter. It is important to use a respirator that fits well and closes tightly to face. If the respirator is leaking, it would not be able to protect against the pollution.
There are a lot of different types of respiratory protection. They are classified according to the ability to provide protection or simply: How many times cleaner air is expected to be inside the respirator compared to the outside. This is called the respirator protection factor. The more dangerous substances we need to protect ourselves against, the higher the protection factor the respirator must have.
A respiratory should cover the nose and mouth. But there are also some that covers the entire face. You breathe through a filter or have a fan-assisted mask using the air. The fan-assisted is equipped with filters that clean the air before it is reaching the face part. Compressed air is an alternative to filter protection when the contamination is unknown or has poor warning properties. If a chemical is odorless, you cannot notice and determine if the filter is saturated and then no longer protects. In the event of a lack of oxygen, compressed air is the only option you can choose.