Looking for the best respirators money can buy?
From pesticides, to spray painting, woodworking, and even mold, we picked the top respirator to get your job done!
In this article you’ll learn:
- What the differences are between each type
- How respirators works to keep you safe
- Some common questions people ask about respirators
- And much more!
Ed has been working in the pest control industry for years helping 1,000's of homeowners navigate the world of insect and rodent management. He manages Pest Strategies now helping homeowners around the world!
Table Of Contents
Top 5 Best Respirators
Short on time? Check out the below list for the products we looked at in this review. If you have more time, keep on going for more information on each.
What are respirators?
Respirators are a special type of apparatus designed to provide protection for the wearer. Either worn over the nose and mouth (i.e., half mask) or completely covering your eyes, nose, and mouth (i.e., full face mask). The respirator’s main role is to prevent the wearer from inhaling any type of particulate matter or contaminant present in the surrounding air.
Examples of hazardous substances blocked by respirators are fumes, chemical gases, vapors, mists, smoke, dusts, and sprays.
There are two types of respirators:
- The basic air purifying types
- The atmosphere supplying types
Through the help of respirators, we are able to do certain complex tasks without compromising our respiratory health.
How do respirators work?
The main function of respirators is to filter the air that we breathe and prevent all types of hazardous elements that are present in the air from entering into our respiratory tract.
In order to perform efficiently, respirators are equipped with multiple layers of filtering materials in order to trap both particle and gas based contaminants.
Filter materials of this type of breathing apparatus are also equipped with an electrostatic charge that allows the device to filter out particles without negatively affecting the breathing resistance that will be experienced by the wearer.
In supplied air respirators, the device is equipped with a battery powered canister that extracts the surrounding air into the filter supplying the wearer with clean and safe air through a hose that is connected to the mask.
What’s the difference between respirator types?
Again, there are two main types of respirators. (1) Air purifying respirators, which are used to purify the surrounding air before being inhaled. (2) Atmosphere-supplying respirator, which are used to provide clean air from a storage tank worn by the user.
For the purposes of this article, we’ll be focusing on air purifying respirators, which use cartridges to detoxify the air. It’s important to understand these pieces as they dictate what kind of air you can breathe in.
When it comes to cartridges, what you should be paying attention to is the rating and letters next to the product description. These letterings are classes and are assigned and approved by The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
The letters “N”, “R”, or “P” indicates how resistant the respirator is to oil. This is important because oil can reduce the effectiveness of your unit.
The following are the assigned classes:
- N95: Filters at least 95% of airborne particles, no resistance to oil.
- Surgical N95: Filters at least 95% of airborne particles, no resistance to oil, but is also cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a surgical mask.
- N99: Filters at least 99% of airborne particles, no resistance to oil.
- N100: Filters at least 99.97% of airborne particles, no resistance to oil.
- R95: Filters at least 95% of airborne particles, has a somewhat resistance to oil.
- P95: Filters at least 95% of airborne particles, strongly resistant to oil.
- P99: Filters at least 99% of airborne particles, strongly resistant to oil.
- P100: Filters at least 99.97% of airborne particles, strongly resistant to oil.
There are other letterings you might see on respirators are as follows:
- AG: Approved for acid gas filtration
- OS: Approved for organic vapor filtration
A good respirator should be tight-fitting to ensure no leakage. These features directly depend on the type of materials used in making the device.
Canisters are usually made of styrene plastic which has undergone high pressure molding. The material is a special type of thermoplastic resin which is critical in the ensuring the durability of the component.
The facepiece of a respirator can be made by a variety of materials. Depending on the type and brand of the respirator, the facepiece is either made of silicone, neoprene, and natural rubber.
Durability is a critical factor to consider when trying to secure a reliable overall respirator.
The overall durability of the device directly depends on the type of material used to manufacture the respirator. Majority of high end respirators are typically made of silicon rubber that can deliver a sealed fit and dependable durability.
When would you use a respirator?
Air quality varies from place to place with the volume of possible contaminants getting directly affected by surrounding circumstances. Specific complex tasks can also significantly disrupt the breathability of the surrounding air.
Here’s a list of some activities or circumstances that count as viable reasons to wear a respirator:
For pesticides use
Considering the harsh chemical components that are present in pesticide solutions, wearing a respirator is imperative in order to thwart any level of respiratory hazard while performing pest control tasks.
In fact, majority of pesticides strictly require the use of a specific respirator which is often emphasized in the product label.
In applying and/or mixing pesticide chemicals, a chemical cartridge respirator is often used. These respirators are designed to prevent hazardous vapors and gases from being breathed in by the wearer.
For asbestos removal
Have you ever heard of mesothelioma?
Well, it’s just a certain type of cancer caused by asbestos exposure.
If you are living in a house built before 1980, there’s a good chance that you are surrounded by asbestos particularly in your old floor tiles, in your pipe cement, siding, and insulation.
In fact, even newer homes can have traces of asbestos in various sections of the structure. And whether or not your house is under renovation, you and everyone in the family is in constant exposure to the hazardous mineral.
Asbestos is a fibrous mineral and a pretty scary one.
Small quantities of airborne asbestos can inflict serious damage in your respiratory tract particularly the lungs. Whether you are removing the asbestos yourself or just supervising the progress of the job, it is vital to put on a full face respirator that can offer protection not just to your lungs but your eyes as well.
When using a respirator for asbestos removal, it is critical that your device is equipped with a P100 (HEPA) filter. These filters are designed to efficiently block 99.9% of particles or contaminants in the air.
For mold removal
Mold exposure can easily lead to a variety of allergic reactions such as runny nose, coughing, wheezing, rash, and itchy eyes.
Furthermore, individuals currently suffering from asthma and certain respiratory diseases will experience worse effects when exposed to this type of household fungus.
For responsible homeowners, mold remediation is the only best solution for such problems. And in order to significantly reduce potential health risks, it is encouraged to utilize at least an N95 respirator.
This special type of personal protective equipment is often used in a construction setting to protect workers from dust and various small particulates. N95 masks are also used in the healthcare sector preventing the wearer from being exposed to both liquid and airborne matter in the form of microorganisms and body fluids.
For spray painting
When doing some painting work, you need to maintain the optimum condition of yourself in order to yield the best results. And wearing a mask should be at the top of your list to effectively and safely accomplish the task at hand.
Selecting a respirator for the job depends on the surrounding circumstances. Spray painting in an open space requires a particulate mask. On the other hand, getting the job done in an enclosed area needs a respirator with disposable cartridges.
Unfortunately, we’re living in an era where smoke is a normal part of daily life. However, it doesn’t mean that there’s nothing you can do to protect your lungs from the serious effects of prolonged exposure to smoke.
Typically, N95 and N100 types of masks do well in protecting the wearer from harmful particulates present in different types of smoke. Just be sure to choose a two-strap mask to secure a sealed fit.
We’ll also mention that the smoke prevention is limited to small bouts of smoke and not full fires (e.g., firefighter type masks are specially designed).
For various dusts
The dust mask serves as our first line of defense against a wide spectrum of dusts present in our surrounding air. You can either go for the disposable type for single-use or the reusable mask that goes with replaceable filters.
Particulate filters or dust masks are effective in blocking different types of dusts such as wood, concrete/silica, chalk, and rubber. These masks are classified with different ratings depending on their efficiency in blocking dust type particulates. Bigger number means greater efficiency.
What Should You Know About Respirator Filters?
Here are some essential things you need to know about respirator filters:
Do Respirators Expire?
Yes, respirators do expire. The facemask itself should be fine, but it’s the cartridges you should be aware of. Always check the expiration date on your cartridges before use.
Can The Elderly Wear Respirators?
Possibly, but breathing through a respirator is more difficult than normal breathing, therefore it may be difficult for an older person to make use of a respirator.
Will Respirators Work In A Fire Type Situation?
No, most respirators are not built to filter out the thick smoke from a fire as well as provide the needed oxygen to prevent asphyxiation. This is why firefighters wear dedicated oxygen tanks.
Difference Between Full Face and Half Face Respirators? Which is better?
As their names imply, half face masks are worn to cover the nose and mouth areas whereas full face respirators provides protection to the entire face especially the wearer’s eyes which are also quite sensitive.
But which type is better?
Actually, the efficiency of the respirator does not depend on whether or not it provides full face coverage. As discussed earlier, respirator efficiency directly depends on the filters used.
Deciding when to use a full face or half face respirator depends on the type of task you are planning to accomplish or the severity of the air environment which includes the types of contaminants present (particulates, vapor/gas, or both) and the volume of involved pollutants.
3M Full Facepiece Reusable Respirator
Some individuals are looking for more functional features that they can count on under extremely challenging environments. The 3M Full Face Respirator packs an arsenal of air filtering solutions at a very reasonable price.
This full face mask offers a spectrum of new features that you’ll never find in an ordinary respirator. The 3M cool flow valve helps deliver cool and dry air to you while working, and the downward breathing guides exhaled air and moisture down and out. The super wide lens offers optimal viewing range and clarity for any job.
With easy to follow instructions provided, adjustable straps, and several sizes to choose from, the Full Facepiece Respirator by 3M is nothing short of clear wide viewing mask matched with superior comfort.
The only downside is that that this model doesn’t come with respirator cartridges, so you’ll need to pick up a set like this one from 3M as most customers have purchased the combination for best results.
The Good And The Bad
- Clear wide viewing optics
- Highly rated product from a very reputable brand
- Designed for clearer audio communication
- Filtration catriges are sold separately
PD-100 Full Face Organic Vapor Respirator & Gas Mask
The PD-100 Full Face respirator is something that looks like it is straight off a Hollywood movie set. Don’t let that deter you because this isn’t a prop, but a high-quality respirator.
The filters on the PD-100 are dual activated charcoal, which means that the air this respirator filters has the ability to remove dangerous particles from the air and water. It can also remove the taste and odors that can slip through on other filter systems. Let us be honest; no one likes to endure the smell of sulfides.
The most common applications that this mask is used for are chemical clean up, laboratories, machining, sanding, and sawing. If it can stand up to everything those tasks throw at it, you can bet it will get the job done for you at home!
The Good And The Bad
- Wide range of uses
- The high-quality filter system
- Sturdy construction
- Medium to a high price point
The HXMY Respirator is a solid piece of protection that not only does the job but comes in at the right price as well. Its lenses are PC lenses, and the frame is of TPU construction.
While this respirator doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that a more expensive model might have, it does come with an exceptionally useful feature, and it’s lenses are fog-resistant. Anyone who has had to wear a respirator can tell you just how annoying it is to lose your vision in the middle of the job and have to constantly take the respirator on and off again.
The next feature that comes with the HXMY is the adjustable strap that has three layers of foam to cradle the wearer’s head and reduce strain, stress, and discomfort. Combine that with its reasonable price and wide range of work applications and you have yourself a winning combination.
The Good And The Bad
- Anti-fogging lens
- Comfortable head strap
- May not be comfortable to wear with glasses