With industrialization and urbanization, more populations, whether at the workplace or outside in the streets, find themselves exposed to contaminated air. Respiratory hazards and illnesses arising thereof are prevalent across most industries and economies. Beyond developed economies with strong labor laws, a large part of the workforce faces the lack of access to respiratory protection, which also is evident in the gaps of knowledge of its correct use. Even among the groups with access to respirators, incorrect use arising out of miscommunication or comfort is common. Evaluating the design and use of the different types of respirators while also studying the contrasting laws, availability and attitudes towards safety in different markets through surveys and interviews, the author has identified the area of cheaper respirators and dust masks to be the most used, and misused. Exploring alternatives of filtration, components, construction and material, a fabric-based product design with an open development process is proposed with the intent of increasing access to and addressing main comfort issues of users at that price range. Another aspect of the solution is visual communication which aids in educating and also identifying the correct respirator for the application. This solution is intended to fit into the existing system with recommendations and review of regulatory bodies - that also functions as a channel for the authorities to be aware of the innovations happening outside of controlled environments for realistic scenarios. The simplicity of the design also makes it feasible for the manufacture of this respirator at both small and large scales. The ease in availability and its compact design also makes it ideal for situations with a surge in respirator demand, as in the case of natural or manmade disasters.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Breathing apparatus--Design; Breathing apparatus--India--Public opinion; Breathing apparatus--United States--Public opinion

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Industrial Design (MFA)

Department, Program, or Center

School of Design (CAD)


Alex Lobos

Advisor/Committee Member

Mindy Magyar

Advisor/Committee Member

Ehsan Rashedi


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes