Best Face Masks: Protect Yourself From Air Contaminants 

Protect yourself from breathing polluted air with these face masks

TheDrive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.

The air is filled with all sorts of pollutants that are potentially harmful. It gets worse when your job requires you to deal with harmful pollutants, such as when you’re woodworking, metalworking, auto detailing, and performing other forms of mechanical work. Our buying guide will help you find the best face masks for safety and health in polluted workspaces. 

  • Best Overall
    PD Full Face Organic Vapor Respirator
    Summary
    Summary
    A professional full-face organic respirator and impact-resistant eye protector with an advanced filtration system.
    Pros
    Pros
    Ergonomic and lightweight design. It offers maximum protection against chemicals and toxic substances. Cushions and feels comfortable on the nose. Fits securely and snugly with five straps. Has easy twist-on filter attachments.
    Cons
    Cons
    Can’t be worn with glasses. The straps aren’t long enough to fit all head types. It comes only in one standard size.
  • Best Value
    Pangda Face Masks
    Summary
    Summary
    A pack of four cotton face masks that protect the mouth and nose from airborne pollutants.
    Pros
    Pros
    Feels soft, warm, and comfortable on the face. Protects from vehicle exhaust, dust, pollen, passive smoke, and cold. It has a strong elastic earloop. Reusable and washable. Has a wide nose-string for a snug fit.
    Cons
    Cons
    Only available in adult sizes. May feel tight around the ears. Has a strong odor when new.
  • Honorable Mention
    FIGHTECH Half Face Mask
    Summary
    Summary
    A high-quality dust mask and respirator with four layers of protection against toxins, pollen, and allergens.
    Pros
    Pros
    Protects against oil-based particles and common airborne irritants. It can be adjusted for a snug fit. Washable and reusable. Skin-friendly and breathable neoprene fabric. It comes in a variety of colors.
    Cons
    Cons
    It may get hot, and you may feel it harder to breathe in hot weather. Not very effective at filtering smoke and sawdust particles.

Tips

  • In addition to wearing a face mask, consider installing air filters in your garage or auto repair shop if the air inside is compromised with airborne contaminants. It will significantly reduce respiratory-related problems. 
  • Face masks may not be effective for people with facial hair. The hair prevents the mask from making a tight seal with the face, and dust particles may sneak into the cover.
  • You should always travel with your face mask in case you find yourself in places with excessive pollution. Select a compact design that can fit in your bag or glove box.

FAQs

Q: Can a face mask keep me safe from smoke fumes?

A: Only if it's designed to filter smoke, or carbon, particles. An ordinary face mask may not do much to protect you from inhaling smoke fumes. However, a respirator may help you breathe more comfortably and give you enough time to get to a safe place in case you are caught up in a fire.

Q: How often should I replace a face mask?

A: You should replace a dust mask every year or after about six months with frequent use. A respirator should be replaced every two years. Consider replacing it sooner if you notice reduced filter performance or if it’s no longer a snug fit.

Q: How do I know that a face mask is effective?

A: You can place both hands over the mask as you breathe in an out to test for any leaks. The mask should bulge out slightly when you exhale and collapse a little when you inhale. Also, look at the inner side of the mask. If you notice any dirt or dust particles, then the mask isn’t very effective.

Final Thoughts

Our top pick is the PD Full Face Organic Vapor Respirator. It offers a full protective covering over your eyes, nose, and mouth. It also protects you from toxic chemicals when detailing your car or maintaining your engine. 

If you are looking for a cheap face mask, consider the Pangda Face Masks.