Conditions are ideal for mold growth and dust this harvest season, which can lead to respiratory problems.
"Other than avoiding dust exposure altogether, the only practical method of reducing or minimizing the possibility of an allergic reaction is through the use of a respirator," says Dean Ross, a farm management consultant based in Michigan.
There are different form of breathing protection, but the one most commonly needed when working around fine organic dust is a disposable particulate respirator. The respirator is a molded fiber cup held in place with elastic bands so it is sealed to the face. It works by filtering the air passing through it as the user breathes.
However, these repirators look similar to and can be confused with disposable nuisance dust masks. The next time you're at the farm supply store, look for an "N" Series disposable particulate respirator.
These respirators can be reused, but dispose of them when they become saturated with liquid, breathing becomes difficult, the mask loses its shape, the mask does not seal to your face, or you can taste or smell a substance known to be in the air.
Dean Ross is an agrosecurity and dairy farm management consultant based in Michigan.