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A paint mask is a flexible pad held over the nose and mouth by elastic or rubber straps to protect against paint mists or vapors. A paint mask is worn in the same fashion as a dust mask or surgical mask, but it is dangerous to confuse the three because they each protect against specific airborne dangers. Using the wrong mask for a job can present a significant and possibly deadly danger as some masks may protect against dust particles, but not protect against chemical vapors.
Paint masks are a cheaper, lighter, and possibly more comfortable alternative to respirators, but may not provide as much protection, and may be more susceptible to misuse or poor fit.
Enforcing the use and availability of paint masks for workers, improvements in the effectiveness and ease of use of paint masks, and research into the effects of inhaling paint fumes, are all indicative of the success of the labor movement.
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