When you spend $50+
Why an N100 rating is essential for your new respirator dust mask
And why it's really important to protect yourself from shop and remodelling dust
If you do any kind of work inhaling particles, and I include woodworking, metalworking, agriculture, handling chemicals, working with resins or anything to do with building and construction, you’re always in the market for a really efficient, comfortable and reliable N100 rated respirator dust mask.
A respirator dust mask is designed to provide protection from particles present in the air. These particles get mixed up in the breathing air and enter your body when you breathe and are capable of causing some serious damage to your health, particularly your lungs.
But when it comes to efficiency, safety and whether your new mask is actually going to protect you from the particles you come into contact with, you can make an informed choice before buying.
We think a N100 rating is essential for your new respirator dust mask, and here’s why.
In the last two years the face mask market has exploded with a multitude of different styles, makes and ratings flooding the market. Seemingly available from every retailer out there, the choice has been really difficult. Your choice has been made even trickier because you never really know if what you’re buying is the correct type.
The list of attributes is endless and includes: respirators, valves, what rating? and many different types of filters and construction materials and that’s before you get into the realms of spurious claims about protection. It’s no wonder major online businesses like Facebook, Instagram and Google have banned all advertising* for Face Masks in an effort to protect their customers from the worst of these claims.
We’ll begin by going through the various mask types which are all to do with the amount of protection you’re going to get from various particle types:
Which respirator dust mask is Right for you?
Depending on the environment you’re working in you’ll have to research the type of risk present to ascertain the correct dust mask. Whilst none of us are fans of risk assessments they are an essential element of protecting yourself, your colleagues, customers and the wider environment.
To know which type of dust mask is the right fit first you will need to know about the different types of masks available. Take a look at the most common types of masks available:
Respirators, a generic term for a face mask that fits closely over the nose and mouth enabling you to breathe through a filter, are specifically designed to provide protection from harmful dust, pollution, vapors and some gases. Respirators can be further classified into two subsets disposable and reusable.
Disposable face masks
These are designed to be used for a limited amount of time and are usually those throw away surgical type masks you see used in hospitals and dental surgeries. They are specifically designed to be used once and thrown away and not to be used for any environments where harmful dust, vapors, fumes, gases and bacteria are apparent.
Reusable Respirators or Masks
Disposable respirators (masks with replaceable filters) bear the word ‘NIOSH’ and are printed with either N95, N99, N100, R95, R99, R100, P95, P99, P3 or P100. This helps in determining the level of protection they offer as N means not oil resistant, R means oil resistant, and P refers to oil proof. The numbers 95 denotes that the respirator will filter 95% of the particles present in the air. It can get confusing here because N100, the rating most used in the US, means the mask filter stops particles as small as 0.3 of a micron which equates to filtering 99.99% of all particles.
Importantly, and particularly for an N100 mask, the fit of the mask is all important. These masks will have a soft rubber or silicone surround to the fitted part of the mask that should fit over your nose and mouth with no gaps.
You’ll also have to consider comfort and reliability. These are the two attributes you can’t really do anything about until you try some on.
Choose a mask that fits comfortably over your nose and mouth, make sure it has a N100 rating or classification, and buy from somewhere that gives customer ratings and reviews.