Did you know that most of the respiratory diseases could be prevented from spreading if the person infected with the disease wears a respirator mask?
Also, N95 filtering facepiece respirators are superior for preventing acute respiratory infections over surgical masks.
A good respirator mask is necessary for someone who is constantly exposed to environment filled with chemicals, toxins, poisonous gases or allergens. In fact, in some countries, wearing a respirator mask is a part of workplace standard requirement to ensure employee’s safety and protection.
The masks that I am going to recommend are capable of protecting you from inhaling hazards, when you are working. Besides, you can also wear them for your home project to prevent your exposure to paint fumes, dust, pesticides, solvents, and other chemical products which are bad for your respiratory system.
I must note that the masks I am going to recommend has their own features, making them suitable for only some types of job. So, it is best that you keep in mind of what you want in a mask while reading my review.
The mask comes with different size. As a rule of thumb, a medium sized mask would fit 70% of the wearer. The masks that are going to be featured below come in different size so do bear in mind when you are considering them.
Best Respirator Mask Comparison Table
|Product Image||Product ||Benefits
|North Safety 7700 ||Click for BEST Price||Industry standard for comfort, fit
(With Awesome Filter)
|3M Safety 142-5303 Safety Mask||Click for BEST Price||NIOSH approved
vapors and acid
|NASUM M201||Click for BEST Price||Versatile respirator
|Canada O2 Curve|
|Click for BEST Price||Stylish and
mask that has
up to 99.997%
|3M 8511 Respirator (10 pcs)||Click for BEST Price||Block out non-
Top 5 Best Respirator Mask
1. North Safety 7700 Silicone Half Mask Respirator– Best Half-Face Respirator Mask (Editor’s Choice)
Characteristic of the North Safety Respirator Mask
If you are looking for the best respirator mask for smoke or even the best face mask respirator in general, the North Safety 7700 Mask is definitely one of the mask you must look at.
Besides doing what a mask normally does, this mask has an added feature which makes you want to buy it. The mask is built by silicon and it boasts industry standard for comfort, fit and reliability. If you are required by work to wear a mask for a long time, it should definitely be in your shopping list. Read further to understand why I said so.
Features of the North Safety Respirator Mask
To make the mask more comfortable than other similar products, it has a half mask cradle suspension system. This allows the mask to seal evenly on the face without creating pressure points. The fact that there are various thickness in the sealing areas would enable more support around the chin area and more flexibility on the nose bridge. This greatly improved the comfort and support. Not to mention that the mask is wide and it gave contoured sealing area for great fit.
The mask has two headstraps: the lower headstraps stretch and move with the worker for more comfort without pulling on the facepiece while the upper headstraps have minimum give to provide secure support.
Plus, the mask is latex free so it would be an ideal choice for anyone who has latex allergies condition.
Comfort aside, this mask is fairly versatile. It can be used in industries such as Chemical, Government, Manufacturing, Steel & Metals, if it is used with proper cartridges. The cartridges I recommend using it with are the North Safety Cartridges. To give some examples, the cartirdges to block paint fumes are N75001 or NOR7580P100; for glass powder it is North 75SCP100 Combination Gas and Vapor Cartridge. If you intend to use it as an N95 mask, I would recommend you using N P100 Particulate Filter Cartridge.
The mask comes in different sizes. For more information, you can check out the image below!
The product only comes with the mask and this means the filters and cartridges sold separately. Extra cost would be spent. However, with that said, it also offers flexibility. You can change your cartridges according to your use in different types of environment. For example, one can interchange the cartridges for protection from harmful organic paint fumes but also use other cartridges to filter particulates when he is in a dusty environment.
Some users also gave feedback saying it is not eyeglass friendly while some complaint of the strong odor inside the mask.
I am particularly impressed with the material and the comfort when I wore it. I would recommend the product for anyone who is required to wear masks for hours. The only let down to me is that it only comes with a mask and you will need to make another purchase for the cartridges, but this also means that you can have more choices in the cartridges and thereby maximizing its usage potential!
Characteristic of the 3M Respirator Mask
This is definitely the mask for chemical fumes.
This mask is NIOSH approved against certain organic vapors and acid gases. Now, do not confuse “organic” with “organic” as in food industry. Organic chemistry is based on carbon atoms. Examples are chlorine, hydrogen chloride, and sulfur dioxide or hydrogen sulfide or hydrogen fluoride. Acid gases on the other hand would include acetic acid, hydrofluoric acid, hydrochloric acid, muriatic acid, oxalic acid and other acid gases.
This mask is suitable to be used in various situations and applications – including pharmaceutical, petrochemical, utilities, aluminum reduction, chemical manufacturing and even in laboratorie. Also, it’s suitable for pulp and paper testing too. It claims to work for all particulate aerosols with 99% efficiency.
Features of the 3M Respirator Mask
The mask is a disposable unit that comes with cartridges – all you need to do is to put it on when you received it. The whole mask is disposable when the filters are done, you cannot change the filters as they are permanently attached to the mask.
The rule of thumb is when you smelt something strange while wearing the mask, it is time you know your mask can be disposed of.
This respirator is specifically for blocking hazardous gas. If you use it to block particles which are larger, ie spray foam, the filter will most likely clog causing it to have shorter life span.
Also, the filters cannot be replaced, the entire unit will be disposed once filter stops working and it may not be environmentally conscious.
If you are constantly exposed to environment filled with organic vapor or acid gases, this is a must have for you. It claims to have a blocking rate of 99%.
Although the mask is a disposable unit, some users have mentioned that they could use it for a number of times. It should be safe to use until you smell the gases while wearing your mask.
Lastly, you need to make sure that your purpose of using it is specifically for filtering organic vapor or acidic gases. Any other usage, for example, to block foams or large particles could shorten its life span.
Characteristic of the NASUM M201 Respirator Mask
The NASUM M201 Face Cover is a versatile respirator that is designed to deal with most of commercial usages, ranging from sawing, demolition work, grinding, and production of materials such as cements, ceramics, graffiti painting, powder processing – you name it.
Features of the NASUM M201 Respirator Mask
The product comes with 1 half face cover, 2 filter boxes, 4 filters cotton and 2 plastic covers. It is quite easy to use the mask, you just have to place the filter cotton on the plastic cover and fit them with the filter box. Next, attach the filter boxes to the mask. One thing to note is that the left side should rotate upwards while the right side goes downward.
Now let’s talk about the design. Like most respirator, the NASUM M201 Face Cover is half cover. This makes it suitable for people who wear glasses or protective eyewear. The food-grade silicone gives your skin maximum comfort and breathability and with the help of the flow valves, the heat and moisture can be dissipated fast, significantly reduce any user fatigue. The headband is also made of adjustable length to fit most head sizes.
Besides, the face cover is compatible with filters of other brand, hence offering you the flexibility and freedom to wide selection of products. For instance, the p100 filters by 3M would fit snugly to the face cover. It is recommended by the seller that the filter cotton could be used for 1-3 weeks. However, if you found the cottons to be dirty or wet, you should replace them immediately. Another indicator is when you feel yourself harder to breath than before when wearing the respirator. The same goes to filter boxes. Typically, they would last up to 200 hours but if you smell anything harmful, it is time to replace the filter boxes. Get the NASUM Replaceable Carbon Filters by clicking on the link.
Rather than the quality of the product, the packaging and delivery seems to be subject to more criticism. Some common issues are about the quality of shipment, incomplete packaging and long delivery time. So, you should realize that there is a higher risk in purchasing this product compared to other producta. For best customer experience, make sure you have liaised with the seller before placing the order.
I would say this respirator mask is good for spray paint application. The fact that it is lightweight (13.6 ounces) and comfortable would make the mask a good option for seasoned respirator user. If only the delivery process could be more customer-friendly, it would be one of the top masks in the market.
Characteristic of the O2 Canada Curve Mask 1.2
The first thing that is striking to the O2 Canada Curve Mask is how futuristic it looks. Certainly, it looks nowhere close to a normal respirator mask with two protruding gas channel or any pedestrian looking 3-ply mask.
However, don’t let the look fools you, since 2014, the company has designed and produced the mask to give you maximum comfort while ensuring your respiratory system is safe from any airborne particles.
Feature of the O2 Canada Curve Mask 1.2
The O2 Curve mask is made up of 3 separate parts, namely the mask shell, filter and silicone part that comes in contact with the face.
The shell acts as a hydrophobic physical filter forms the appearance of the mask. The filters come in different colours to suit your personal preference. You would have the white colour as original option and other colours such as black, blue, and red is available upon separate purchase.
The electrostatic charged filter offers you the freedom from pollution. When tested in the laboratory, the O2 Curve filter can achieve a 98.6% efficiency for PM2.5 and 99.997% for viral filtration efficiency. The trapped mean particle size is at 2.7µm and it is effective down to 0.1 microns.
The silicone material is carefully selected to provide your skin exceptional comfort and face seal. Compared to other materials such as cloths as plastics, this medical-grade silicone gives a better seal and fit.
Since the seal is air-tight, there would be no issue of fogging your glasses. Rest assured that your exhaled breath will be directed through exit valves at the bottom of both sides of the respirator.
Other than the mask, the ear loops are also important in deciding whether the mask is comfortable. In this O2 Curve mask, you will find yourself getting ultra-soft silicone ear loops so you will not feel the loops “cutting” your ears. Besides, the mask comes with adjustable neck strap to give you the tightest fit.
Durability wise, it is advised by the seller that the filter would last 1 to 2 weeks (or about 40 hours). In very dusty environments, the lifespan of the filter would be shorter.
The filter is not washable and you can get a replacement of 5 filters per pack at $7.99 US. However, the mask is reusable and you may either disinfect it with spray, boil it in water or wash it in the dishwasher.
Lastly, make sure you pick the right type of mask. The mask comes with two options namely high-bridge and low-bridge fit. If you have a higher nose bridge or your nose bridge is near the eye level, then the high-bridge fit is for you.
The problem with a somewhat unconventional product design is that criticism is unavoidable. Some users reflected that the product looks like an athletic cup and they are definitively quite alike. This might be a dealbreaker for users who prefer to just blend in the crowd.
The second issue is that it might be too small for you, especially if you have a bigger face bone structure. Some users complaint that the mask had affected their bottom lips, causing issues in conversations.
The last point is that this product does not support a return. The Company might review this policy soon as the product popularity grows, but as of now, you should bear this in mind before heading to buy the mask.
Beauty is very subjective and this product might very well fall in the category of “love at first sight”. If you think the appearance attracts you, then you will need to consider the suitability of the mask next. For me, there is no question about the function of the mask. So, my primary consideration is to make sure the mask fits. After all, we don’t want a leaky mask despite having a world-class filter.
Characteristics of 3M 8511 Respirator Mask
If you are looking out for disposable respirator masks, this is the mask for you! Also, unlike most of the best respirators I have listed here, the 3M 8511 Respirator Mask is one of the more low profile respirator available in the market.
This mask is generally used to block out non-harmful dust in the air. By wearing this mask, you are suitable to do work such as grinding, sanding on barewood, non-lead painted surfaces and dry wall, fiberglass installation, pollen mold spores, gardening work. However, please take note that it does not block gases, vapors, odors, oil particulates, toxic substances – lead, asbestos. It is not a surgical mask and hence it is not effective against virus but it would help to reduce your chances of you touching your face, mouth and nose.
Feature of 3M 8511 Respirator Mask
This mask is NIOSH Approved. The N95 mask features the Advanced Electrostatic Media for at least 95 percent filtration efficiency against airbourne particles. For people who fears the PM 2.5 air pollution, this N95 mask is a must have for you.
This mask also focus on the user comfort and it comes with features as follows for maximum comfort: –
- 3M Cool Flow Valve reduces the chances for heat building up in the Respirator
- Claim to be able to breath 30% easier compared to earlier model – 3M 8200
- M-noseclip is adjustable and help to secure a tight fit
- Headbands is stretchable for maximum comfort
This being said, the mask is able to be worn for long period. In the even the respirator becomes damaged, soiled or breathing becomes difficult, you should leave contaminated area immediately and replace the respirator.
It may not fit your face if you wear glasses as there would be fogging to your glasses and it would be a tight fit for larger head.
The 8511 respirator is good for someone who works household projects on a casual basis. It was also widely used by people who live in areas where forest fire is prevalent. The feedback was terrific as it could last for days.
How to wear it?
Here’s an awesome video which you can watch to learn how to wear the 3M 8511 Respirator mask.
What is a Respiratory Mask?
Respiratory mask or respirator is a device designed to provide protection for the wearer by filtering the air that he or she will be inhaling.
It is usually worn by people who worked in industries which exposes them to harmful particles in the air. In a number of country including the US, the employees of such industries as required by law to wear respirators.
The chances you might be expose to hazardous elements in air may be more frequent than you think. This ranges from your daily backyard maintenance, painting works, sawing logs, wielding metals, cleaning up molds and chemical splashes, to working specific work types such as construction, mining and research. Typically, if the unfiltered air includes contaminants such as fumes, chemical gases, vapors, mists, smoke, dusts, and sprays, you need to wear a respirator for your own safety.
As each respiratory mask has different functions, you should know the purpose of wearing it.
Respirator Mask Types
Respirator masks comes in two forms:
- half mask (covering nose and mouth)
- full face mask (covering nose, mouth and eyes)
- if the chemicals that you will exposed to might caused irritation to skin and eye, you should go for full face mask
Respirator masks comes in two types:
- Basic air purifying – purify air before inhalation
- Atmosphere supplying – supply clean air from storage tank
The masks also have different ways of filtering hazardous contaminants. Some has multiple layers of filtering materials while some is electrostatically charged to block and trap particles and contaminants.
The focus of this article will be on half mask basic air purifying respirator mask.
Best Respirator Mask Buying Guide
Step 1: Know your hazard type
As different mask has different function in terms of the hazard it can block out, you need to know what type of hazard you will be exposed to. The hazards are usually classified as particulate hazard and gas hazard. For example, if you know you will be exposed to organic gases, you should go for 3M Safety 142-5303 Safety Mask and not 3M 8511 Respirator.
Step 2: Know your required level of protection
The level of protection is called assigned protection factor (APF) and it ranges from 10 tp 10,000. According to the guide released by 3M, APF is the workplace level of respiratory protection that a respirator is expected to provide to employees.
The employer has to implement a continuing, effective respiratory protection program as specified by 29 CFR 1910.134. A APF of 10 means the respirator can protect against exposure levels that are up to 10 times the permissible exposure level (PEL) for that hazard. So, the higher the APF, the safer is the mask. The Permissible Exposure Level (PEL) is set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
To know what level of APF your mask should be, just divide the exposure level with PEL. You should be able to narrow down your choices to those respirators that can reduce exposure to below the PEL.
Step 3: Choose the best respirator
Now you have the safety protection level sorted out, you will need to consider whether you need other protective equipment such as safety glasses and hard hats for your work. The equipment often compete for space on same part of the face so it is vital to find equipment that fits together to prevent any leakage. Of course, you should always take note of the comfort it brings to you.
Steps to Care and maintain your respirator gas mask
Respirators should be handled with care as it is used as a protective tool. Naturally, you will need to follow the manufacturer’s instruction in terms of maintaining the item. Here, I would just highlight a few general tips:
- Do not use solvents to clean the respirator
- Wash the respirator with a mild dish detergent or a combination of detergent and disinfect by using a brush under warm water at 49-60ºC or 120-140ºF.
- Rinse the respirator with clean water to remove excess detergents.
- Dry and store the respirator.
- Avoid exposure of the respirator against dust, light, heat, moisture and chemicals.
If you would like more details about how you can take care of your respirator mask, please visit the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety for more details.
Can I use respirator consistently?
It depends on your respirator type. If the mask is disposable type, cannot be used consistently. If the mask is not disposable, it can be used consistently but its cartridge will expire. You have to purchase cartridges separately.
Do I need to shave to wear a respirator?
It would be advisable to remove your facial hair as respirators do not normally cover your beard. It may be tough decision for some men but I would say it is a small price to pay for saving your lungs.
Here’s a comprehensive visual guide provided by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety.
How do I know if my respirator fits?
Once you have put your respirator on, you should conduct what is commonly referred to as a ‘fit test’:
- Block the exhalation valve with the palm of your hand.
- Gently exhale and hold for about 10 seconds.
- Check to see if the facepiece is bulging slightly.
- If the facepiece remains bulging and there are no air leaks between your face and the facepiece, your respirator fits properly.
- If you do detect leaks, readjust the straps and check again for a proper fit.
Final thoughts and recommendation
Respirators come with different functionality and whether it is comfortable to one is a really subjective issue. Some prefers the mask to come with cartridges while some do not. In short, different people have their own considerations when purchasing a respirator. Therefore, in the review I made above, I tried my best to highlight the best respirators in different situation and usage. I hope with my review, you know which product you should go after.