When you are an avid welder or even just an occasional amateur then you will want to use a respiratory mask whilst welding. This will help to protect you from any flying particulate matter and can also keep fumes from affecting you whilst you work. This is particularly important as diseases like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) can be caused by breathing in noxious fumes and other particulates whilst working. There are several different types available and the type you would choose depends on the nature of the work that you are carrying out. To learn more about buying the right kind of mask for your work, take a look at our handy buying guide at the end of this article. These respirators are generally designed to complement your welding mask so that you can use both at the same time. Masks come in a wide variety of price ranges, styles and levels of protection. They can protect you from any number of hazards be they chemical fumes, air-borne metal particles or oil-based contaminants.
This mask is a lightweight and compact mask that comes highly recommended. It fits securely and is flexible enough that you can pull the mask down around the neck when not in use. It is fitted with no-slip straps that ensure that there are no gaps when it comes to the fit but are still flexible enough to let you work all day with no problems. The mask is durable enough and secure enough to use in even humid or wet conditions without compromising your safety. It is rated to P100 standard, so you are protected from all manner of airborne particulates, and this includes things like asbestos, coal, titanium oxide and mould. The aesthetics of the mask are also great, and it means that you will also look good whilst wearing it. It is fitted with a large valve as well, which means that breathing whilst wearing the mask isn’t a chore, whilst it actively helps to prevent condensation in use. It is so light and flexible that not only is it recommended for welding use, but it is also used in areas which are prone to forest fires and other hazards that impede breathing abilities.
This mask is a great mask for filtering particulate matter whilst you are welding. It features a strong, lightweight design that is comfortable to wear for extended periods of use. The standard filter is rated for N100, which means it is 99.7% effective against all non-oil-based particulates. There is also a P100 rated filter in the box if you are dealing with oil-based particulates. You should be aware that this mask isn't designed to filter fumes, so it is not suitable for this type of work. The mask does fit well under your welding hood and it also fits well if you wear glasses or have a beard. The ease of replacing the cartridges is great as you will want to make sure that you change them regularly to ensure that it keeps working at maximum efficiency. The design looks good and colourisation means that not only is the mask practical it also looks good as well whilst you are wearing it.
If you are a looking for a great full face mask, then the Trudsafe 6800 perfectly fits the bill. The mask features both bayonet and an RD40 thread connector so you can use a wide variety of replacement filters on it. The mask will filter out all forms of particulate matter and will also take care of noxious fumes and nasty smells as well thanks to the included carbon filters. The fit is great and you can wear eyeglasses whilst you are wearing it without it impeding the fit or safety of the mask. The mask features excellent airflow and won't' get fogged up whilst using it, even for extended periods. The straps are easily adjustable and it is flexible enough that you can pull the mask down comfortably when you are taking a break. It also means that you will get a good seal whilst you are working and this is true even if you have a beard. Thus it keeps you completely safe from all possible toxicants even in the harshest of conditions.
When it comes to purchasing your respiratory mask there are several things that you need to know. Masks generally fall into one of three categories. There are disposable masks, half masks, and full-face masks. These tend to be suitable for different types of workers.
- Occasional or Weekend DIYer – If you are not a frequent welder then you want a disposable mask. These are cheap and designed to be used once and then thrown away. They are available in bulk and not recommended for extended periods of use.
- Regular DIYer – If you fall into this category you are better off getting a half mask. This means that you will always have it on hand and you can change the cartridges on it for different tasks.
- DIY enthusiast – If you are working like a pro, then you should be protected like a pro. So you will want a full face mask. These cover your eyes as well as your nose and mouth and mean that you don't require separate protective eyeglasses.
Once you have selected the type of mask, then you will need to be aware of the different types and levels of protection. The amount of protection that a mask will give you is determined by its FFP level. Masks are rated either FFP1, 2 or 3. These work as follows:
- FFP 1 – Low level of protection. Suitable for non-toxic dust, mists and fumes.
- FFP 2 – Medium level of protection. Suitable for protection from harmful dust and fumes.
- FFP3 – High level of protection. Suitable for protection from harmful and carcinogenic dust and fumes, and protection from biochemical and radioactive substances as well.
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As well as the FFP rating which gives a level of protection. You will often find a rating such as P100 or N95. This corresponds to another type of protection the mask offers. The N means that is only protected from non-oil based particulates, an R means it is resistant to oil-based particulates and a P means it is fully protected from oil-based particulates. The number will be either 95, 99 or 100 and refers to the percentage of particulates that the mask filters. (N.B. 100 is 99.7% effective, not 100%)
When it comes to protection from gases then there is another rating that you should be aware of. A gas filtration mask will have several ratings that show the type of gases that it protects against. These are as follows:
- A-brown is organic gases and vapours – boiling point greater than 65 °;
- AX-brown is organic gases and vapours – boiling point less than or equal to 65 °;
- B-gray is inorganic gases and vapours;
- E-yellow is acid gases and vapours – sulphur dioxide etc.
- K-green is ammonia and amine organic derivatives;
- SX-violet is specific compounds designated by the manufacturer.
Now that you have worked your way through the variety of different mask types, the next most important aspect to the mask is how it fits. You will want to make sure that the mask you are wearing fits well, and is comfortable in use. Whilst it is recommended that you take a break every sixty minutes whilst working with a mask, you want no excuses to not wear it whilst you are working. This means that comfort is of paramount importance.
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You should be able to wear the mask easily and that includes wearing with glasses if you use glasses whilst you work. You must test the fit of the mask before you start any work. You will also want to make sure the fit is such that it seals correctly around your face. Some masks feature a press to test button on them which will allow you to test the protect fit of your mask without resorting to an external device.
This should be tested every time you put the mask on. Disposable masks are designed to be lightweight enough that you shouldn't even notice you are wearing it. Be aware that although a disposable mask might be designed to last a period of time, you should change it out as soon as it becomes difficult to breathe. This is also true of the cartridges on the more permanent masks.
You should make sure that you always get quality replacement cartridges that fit your mask properly. Make sure that you keep your mask dry whilst in operation, particularly if it is disposable as wetness may compromise the integrity of the protection. If your mask becomes damaged in any way stop working and replace the damaged parts as soon as practicable.
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