Naturally, our survival depends on the air we breathe. How easy it is, though, to take clean air for granted, or to ignore the harmful effects of air polluted by dust and mists, gases and vapors. It can take 20-40 years for the damage to our lungs to become apparent (except, of course, in highly toxic atmospheres such as confined spaces where the consequences can be immediate). When you're young and healthy it's hard to imagine gasping for air as you walk down the street or up a flight of stairs. But years of exposure to bad air at work can take its toll, slowly diminishing lung capacity or planting the seeds of disease.
Most everyone agrees that respiratory protection is imperative to guard employees from harmful airborne contaminants, but getting employees to consistently wear respirators can be another story. In fact, the daily, "real world" use of respirators raises many questions.