Respirator Mask

We Love Respirator Masks

Picking the right respirator mask can be a daunting task as there are so many variables involved to choose the perfect mask which will protect you against hazards, hence we have discussed about choosing the accurate respiratory mask comprehensively below

respirator mask

What is a Respirator mask

First, let us understand what exactly the respirator does. It basically consists of a mask that is worn on the face and covers nose and mouth forming a tight seal against the skin to filter out certain airborne particles.

Selecting the Right Respirator Mask

Selecting the right type of respirator mask is important as no matter how well made is the respirator, but if it is not designed to filter out certain chemicals, then it will not. Hence you need to assess correctly the need to get a respirator mask and choose one designed for that specific purpose.

Step One- Know the Hazard Type:

You need to first learn the type of hazard against which you need to use the respirator mask. Get more information about the particulate hazard in the environment, is it gas, vapor hazard or both types of hazard. Generally, respirator masks differ based on the type of hazard and if both hazards are present, then a combination cartridge can be used to filter out both particles.

Step Two: Find Out if You Need Respiratory Protection:

The next step is to assess is the exposure levels are higher than nominal levels or not. In most cases, if the particles present are well below the range then you need not use a mask but if the levels are higher than tolerable limits, then you will have to opt for a respirator mask which will bring down the exposure to acceptable levels.

Step Three: Determine the Protection Level Required:

As per standards and regulations implemented by–Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the respirators used in the workplace should be approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). NIOSH has introduced an assigned protection factor (APF) it should be within the range of 10 to 10,000.

You can determine the APF level by dividing exposure levels by exposure limit which is called a hazard ratio.

Step Four: Choose the Type of Respirator Mask:

Once you determine the range of APF, then you can choose the respirator to reduce exposure levels. OSHA also has listed APF for different respirator types to make the choice easy.

Apart from all these you also need to see if the respirator mask is compatible with other safety equipment such as hard hats and safety glasses. For e.g., if you use a half-face respirator then you may not be able to use safety glass effectively. So, it is important to choose safety equipment that goes together to avoid any leakage and loss of other protections.

You also need to choose a respirator mask based on how comfortable you feel in it, as you also need to be able to do the job hence any discomfort can be a hurdle. As every person has a different face type hence choosing a respirator mask may be tricky but we are going to further help you choose one by explaining its different types below;

Types of Respirator Mask:

Respirators can be classified into two main types that are air-purifying respirators (APRs) and supplied-air respirators (SARs).

1. Air-Purifying Respirators:

This type of respirator lets you breathe the air by removing the contaminants from it by filtering it out. These are also known as negative-pressure respirators as they purify the air by absorbing the vapors or gases on an absorbing material such as sorbent in a canister or cartridge. The respiratory mask should be airtight and are available in many types;

This type of respirator needs the wearer to pull air through the filter or cartridge which means it may strain the wearer hence it is necessary for the wearer to undergo medical examination before using this type of respirator mask.

Filtering Facepiece:

These are disposable respirator masks used to protect against the particulate hazards. As they are disposable hence, they are maintenance-free and can be discarded after use.

Pros of Filtering Facepiece:

  • It protects against particles.
  • A layer of advanced charcoal can eliminate odors.

Cons of Filtering Facepiece:

  • This mask is not for chemical exposure environments.
  • These masks usually are not that tight; hence they do not maintain a good seal.

Reusable Respirator Mask:

This type of respirator mask can be used again and again, you just need to replace the filters or combination cartridges as and when needed.

This filter comes in two variant, half-face or full-face coverage.


As the name itself suggests, this type of respirator mask only covers the lower half of the face including the mouth and nose.

Pros of Half-Face Reusable Respirator Mask:

  • It is lightweight, comfortable and durable.
  • Easy to wear protective eyewear along with this type of respirator mask
  • This mask is preferable by people who are claustrophobic.

Cons of Half-Face Reusable Respirator Mask:

  • Filters or cartridges need to be changed periodically.
  • It is difficult to maintain a good seal.


Full-face respirator mask covers the entire face including eyes, mouth, and nose and also can replace the safety glasses.

Pros of Full-Face Reusable Respirator Mask:

  • It is durable
  • It provides more sealed protection than half-face respirators.

Cons of Full-Face Reusable Respirator Mask:

  • Filters or cartridges need to be changed periodically.
  • Difficult to maintain a good seal.
  • It obstructs the wear of protective glasses

2. Supplied-Air Respirators:

Supplied-air respirator (SAR) supplies clean air through a compressed air tank or an airline from outside of the room area. The air supplied by this powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR) is pure and contains moisture following certain air quality standards.

The powered and supplied air protection is a positive pressure respirator where the air is pushed to the face-piece by powered air using a blower operated by battery which can pull air through the filter or supplied air which will bring clean air through the hose from an air source outside the contamination area.

SAR can be classified into two types of respirator mask;

Tight-Fitting Respirator Mask:

Tight-fitting respirator mask has a tightly fitted face mask with respiratory inlets, the facemask covers half or full face respirator mask.

Loose-Fitting Respirator Mask:

These are like hoods or helmets that cover both head and neck and fits loosely on the face with a rubber or a fabric shield. Air is supplied through airlines.

Pros of SAR Respirator Mask:

  • The air provided is external, hence it is usually a cleaner approach.
  • A half-face mask can be used along with protective glasses and full-face masks usually comes with eye protection gear as well.
  • PAPR system uses a blower to draw air instead of lung power, hence the breathing is more natural due to the supply of constant airflow.
  • A loose-fitting mask is the best solution for sealing air, preventing loss in people who have a lot of facial hair.

Cons of SAR Respirator Mask:

  • This type of respirator mask is usually expensive
  • The maintenance cost of the SAR mask is high.
  • As the airflow is from a tank or outside the room, the air supply must be enough so that the user does not feel suffocated.

3. Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA):

Self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) is also classified as a positive pressure supplied-air respirator, the difference is that the user needs to carry the source of clean air with them which is filled in a tank. This respirator is used in a highly hazardous environment where the contamination is so extreme and, toxic that other respirator types cannot be used.

Pros of SCBA Respirator:

  • This protects against a large variety of contaminants.
  • This can be used in an oxygen-deficient atmosphere.

Cons of SCBA Respirator:

  • It is the most expensive out of all the respirators.
  • The duration of use is limited.
  • It requires proper training to be used.
Choosing the right respirator is essential to protect your health, hence consider all the above points discussed to find a respirator mask which is both comfortable and suitable for the environment where you need to use it