Best Dust Masks: Block Airborne Particles While you Work
Protect yourself from inhaling dust and other airborne toxins with these dust masks
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Do you spend a lot of time on woodworking projects, mowing the lawn, or other allergy-inducing jobs at home? Then you need to protect yourself from dust, pollution, and allergens with a highly effective dust mask that can trap airborne particles. Here are a few options you could consider.
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Benefits of Dust Masks
- Be safe. Sometimes the air you breathe contains harmful contaminants and airborne elements, which can cause breathing and other health problems. Fortunately, you can alleviate these issues by wearing a dust mask.
- Protect yourself at home. If you work on a lot of projects at home, a dust mask is very helpful. It helps if you’re constructing projects out of wood, fiberglass, or drywall and do a lot of sawing, drilling, and sanding.
- Breathe better. If you are particularly susceptible to allergens and pollen, a dust mask limits the particles that enter your lungs, which will help you breathe more efficiently. Many masks feature breathing valves that reduce heat and moisture so you can breathe better.
Types of Dust Masks
This is the most basic type of dusk mask and will protect you against some airborne elements. It has the lowest level of filter protection and a minimum level of breathing resistance. It will not contain an exhalation valve but will protect you from dust and aerosols. It's ideal for home renovation projects that involve cutting, drilling, and sanding.
These masks protect against fumes, mist, and airborne elements. They often have exhalation valves, and there's greater breathing resistance compared to an FFP1 mask. There's usually an integrated charcoal layer to protect against ozone, and they’re good for agricultural activities and construction tasks, such as plastering and sanding.
If you want the best dust protection you can get, then this is the type of mask you need. FFP3 masks provide the most amount of protection, and if fitted properly they can protect against viruses, bacteria, and fine toxic particles like asbestos. The filter is thick and blocks 99 percent of particulates. There’s also an exhalation valve.
Dust Mask Pricing
- $5-$15: The majority of dust masks fall within this price range. They provide protection against dust and other airborne particles but are not for medical use. Expect to pay more if you want a package that contains multiple masks.
Level of Protection
Some masks are very basic with only a couple of layers of material, while others feature five or more layers that are designed to filter out more air particles. Heavy-duty masks can be custom made to fit specifically to the dimensions of your face, but they are more expensive. Once you determine the purpose of your mask, you can determine what level of protection is appropriate.
Fit is critical when you purchase a dust mask. If it's too big, it may slip down your face and won't provide adequate protection when you're working on a project. If it's too small, it will be uncomfortable to wear. Look for masks that have adjustable straps and nose clips so you can customize the fit.
The last thing you want is a mask that restricts your breathing, particularly if you're working on projects that kick up a lot of dust. Some masks are more breathable than others. Many brands include breathing valves that reduce heat and moisture, while masks that are too thick may cause breathing issues. If you wear glasses, look for masks that have anti-fog properties.
- Reusable/Disposable: Disposable masks are designed for one-time use, while reusable ones can be worn over and over again. Many reusable masks are washable so you can clean them regularly. Some also feature replaceable filters, which extends their lifespan even further. Disposable masks may be more convenient because you don't need to maintain them, but reusable ones may be more solid in construction and provide better protection.
Best Dust Masks Reviews & Recommendations 2020
- Most dust masks develop mold if there’s moisture buildup in the inner layer. You can prevent this by cleaning the dust mask and leaving it to air dry.
- Do not use strong detergents to clean the mask. They may weaken the dust trapping layer and you may not be able to stand the strong smell on the mask.
- Consider alternative treatments if the dust mask does not help to clear your allergies. Consult your physician for other options available.
Q: How does a dust mask trap particles?
A: Most dust masks are designed with non-woven fibrous filters, which form web-like layers that can trap tiny dust particles in the air that are inhaled by the wearer. However, the web fibers aren’t closely packed since they would make it hard for the user to breathe. The masks may include special formulations that also trap carbon, pollen, and other allergens.
Q: Can a dust mask get you out of a fire?
A: Paper or surgical masks will not protect you from inhaling toxic smoke fumes. A wet piece of cloth won’t help much either. You need a respirator mask that’s formulated with smoke inhibitors, which effectively removes carbon and other toxins from the air you breathe.
Q: What’s the difference between a dust mask and a respirator?
A: A dust mask is made of thin material and can only trap non-toxic dust such as when you’re sweeping, dusting, or woodworking. Most are disposable. A respirator is a more advanced version of a dust mask and is made of thicker material that can clear out toxins, such as exhaust fumes. A respirator is commonly referred to as a dust mask since that’s its basic function.
Our top pick is the DewAmor Reusable, Washable Neoprene/Cotton Face Mask. It's an American-made product that is washable, reusable, and comfortably covers your nose and mouth to protect against dust, pollen, and other airborne particles.
For a more budget-friendly option, consider the Respirator for Dust, Pollen, Allergies, Paint.