Protect yourself from dust, pollution, and allergens with the right mask
Dust masks are the most widely used form of personal protective equipment to protect the respiratory system from inhaling dust particles, pollution, allergens and other particulates people may come across in their daily lives.
Factors that define why you would need a dust mask should be considered, to see first which might be the right one to suit your environment, or to see if you should instead be using a respirator or full-face gas mask.
In comparison to gas masks and respirators, dust masks are a favorable option because of their affordability, and easy supply, as most households tend to have dust masks for when working with particulates.
Unlike gas masks or respirators, normal household dust masks work by slowing down air flow so that smaller particles are trapped in the fibers of the filter.
This means slower breathing is most effective, and filtering efficiency decreases with faster breathing.
However, in this list, we have also included a newer innovation of dust masks that are able to effectively filter while you are conducting physical activities.
Such as running, cycling and other actions that generate high breathing which helps for high pollution in city environments.
Two most important things to know about dust masks
Filter percentage – When dust masks state that they have a rating N95, N99, and N100, it means that they are able to filter 95%, 99%, or 100% of particles of at least 0.3 microns in diameter.
For projects such as sawing, gardening, or simple housework that requires a dust mask, this might not be so important, but when you are living in a high-pollution city, or you are working with dangerous chemicals, you might want to consider an N100 filter.
Size of particles – One of the other important things to know when you are considering a dust mask is the size of the particle you are intending on being exposed to.
Of course, you can’t measure these, but knowing whether or not they are filtered by a dust mask will determine whether you need a dust mask, respirator, or a gas mask.
The following is a list of 17 particulates people might be using respiratory protection for, to give an idea as to the sizing of various particles from different industries.
|Bromine||0.1 - 0.7|
|Fiberglass||1 - 1000|
|Metallurgical Dust||0.1 - 1000|
|Mold Spores||10 - 30|
|Oil Smoke||0.03 - 1|
|Pesticides & Herbicides||0.001|
|Radioactive Fallout||0.1 - 10|
|Saw Dust||30 - 600|
|Spores||3 - 40|
|Tobacco Smoke||0.01 - 4|
How do dust masks ‘capture’ particles?
Most particulate filters are constructed with a non-woven fibrous filter to capture particles that flow through the filter as air is inhaled by the wearer. The filter’s fibers form a crisscross pattern which in turn creates a web of layers.
The spaces between the air allow the wearer to breathe. The tighter the layers are the harder the breathing. When a particle travels in the air and is inhaled into the mask, it is trapped on one of the web’s fibers.
This ‘trapping‘ is caused by a number of systems that masks use to essentially catch and keep the particle as it flows into the mask and lands on one of the many protective fibers.
Some of the masks in this list also use an ‘activated carbon‘ filter which increases the process as the carbon is porous, and using a process called adsorption effectively ‘traps‘ particles in the carbon.
In considering this, if a mask is used in situations where there has been contact made with hazardous particles, such as viruses, chemical, and toxic substances, due to the nature of the mask’s ability to ‘capture‘ the particles.
Only disposable masks should be used and disposed of safely to ensure there is no cross-contamination.
So now that we know why we might use a dust mask, what for, and how it works, let’s take a look at the best dust masks available that you should consider using.
8 Best Dust Masks For Your Safety
01. 3M Rugged Comfort Quick Latch Half Facepiece Reusable Respirator
The medium-size 3M Rugged Comfort Quick Latch Half Facepiece Respirator suits a wide variety of physiques—from 5′3′′ to 6′1′′, and from light to heavy builds
But if you are incredibly tiny or tall, the smaller 6501QL or bigger 6503QL may be a better alternative.
Because of its soft silicone facepiece and convenient “fast latch” mechanism, which allows you to remove the respirator from your face without removing the full headpiece, we give it the highest overall rating.
It includes an adjustable crown and an exhalation valve (and doesn’t fog up any glasses you may be wearing), unlike the other versions we tried.
You will also need filters to utilize it; we suggest 3M 2097 filters, which collect 99.97 percent of airborne particles, including smoke, while also protecting against petrochemical fumes and certain caustic vapors.
Aside from that, the facepiece has a lot of other excellent features. It incorporates a particular valve cover that helps send exhaled air and moisture downward.
It has 3M’s patented Cool Flow Valve, which helps to make breathing easier by lowering heat and moisture. The facepiece comes with an adjustable head harness with durable polyester straps that stretch and adapt to the wearer, ensuring a secure and comfortable fit on the head.
This facepiece is a tough, long-lasting respirator that is pleasant even in harsh situations and for extended periods.
Features & Specifications:
- 3M Cool Flow Valve
- Weight: .37lbs
- Assigned Protection Factor: 10
- Brand: Cool Flow
- Color: Gray, Gray/Teal
- Connection Type: Bayonet
- Facepiece Type: Half
- Product Type: Half Facepiece Respirator
- Harness Type: 4 points Quick Latch
- Primary Material: Nylon, Silicone
- Product Series: Rugged Comfort 6500
- Gas & Vapor Protection
02. Base Camp Plus Dust Mask
Many customers, including us, consider the Base Camp Dust Breathing Mask one of the best face masks for dust protection.
The item is entirely breathable, as can be seen. Nylon was selected as the primary material for this mask because it allows gas and liquids to flow through. Another plus is the adjustability of the hook and loop strap behind our heads.
The manufacturer includes the function to ensure that the mask stays in place. Even when we wear safety glasses to perform, there is no trace of fogging, thanks to it.
Many people prefer this product because of its unique design, tailored to provide maximum comfort when wearing it.
You may simply adjust the nose clip to manage the amount of air that enters and exits the mask. It is handy when entering an area with severe air pollution.
We are relieved to learn that the product is safe for folks allergic to certain pollutants. A part of the mask has two functions: the first is to protect persons who are allergic to harmful chemicals, and the second is to lower the size of the air resistance.
They have four color options for you to choose from for styling. If you like low-profile items, the black and blue one is an excellent choice. If you’re looking for something different and refreshing, red and green pieces are also available.
Features & Specifications:
- Fabric Type: Nylon+Melt-blown
- Size: One Size Fits Most
- Style: Modern1
- EAPI Filter Technology: Electrostatic Adsorption & Physical Interception, Advanced Nanotechnology
- Filter materials of the dust mask: Double-Layer Melt-blown, Non-woven Polypropylene, Carbon
- Activated carbon filters
- Fully formable nose clip
- Earloop design
- Adjustable hook & loop strap
- Hook and loop combined with elastic band system
- Dual one-way airflow vent
03. Fightech Dust Masks
The Fightech Dust Mask suits various use, including mowing, jogging, carpentry, and any other task, demonstrating its exceptional adaptability. The fact that this Fightech Dust Mask promotes healthy breathing is noteworthy.
It keeps you safe and comfortable from various air irritants, including but not limited to fumes, mold, pollen, dust, and non-oil-based particles.
We are particularly intrigued by how enhanced this dust mask’s general design has been. For example, it features an ear-loop design, which is quite helpful in preventing the dust mask from slipping off.
It also functions without generating heat due to built-in valves that prevent heat from accumulating within.
We believe it is superior to other dust masks since it helps lung training and capacity enhancement. It does this by simulating low oxygen and high altitude levels. The core material’s flexibility and adaptability are other highlights.
You may adjust the mask to fit your comfort level and the kind and shape of your head. Because the valves and filters can be swapped out and reused, they should last longer than conventional respirators and dust masks, particularly ones of ordinary quality.
It does, however, cause the fogging of your safety glasses. Fortunately, the fog dissipates rapidly and appears and disappears depending on the outside weather and how hard you are breathing.
Features & Specifications:
- Color: Black
- Fabric Type/Material: Nylon, Melt-blown
- Care Instructions: Machine Wash, Hand Wash
- Size: Medium
- Style: Cloth Face Mask, comfortable, disposable
- Closure Type: Hook and Loop
- Reusability: Reusable & Washable
- Package Includes: 2 x Dust Masks | 10 x Carbon Filters | 2 x Extra Valves
- Advanced Filtration Technology
- Universal Usage
04. ATV Tek Elite Neoprene Dust Mask
This ATV Tek dust mask has a performance filter that blocks 99.5 percent of dust particles. While working or playing in dusty conditions keeps you dust-free and comfortable.
According to the manufacturer, the two-valve design keeps dust away while staying washable and reusable. This design reduces waste and eliminates the need for filter replacements.
Its patent-pending 3D Nosebox and updated nose clip should create an even dust seal, meaning there won’t be any parts of the mask where an errant puff of dust might slip through.
We thought this allows for a bespoke fit for any size face and nose, making the mask more pleasant to wear (however, there are mixed customer reviews).
A velcro strap and a pair of loops that run up over the ears aid with fitting. Helmets and eyewear are also compatible with the ATV Tek dust mask.
The two disadvantages are pricey and that the valve is detachable and might be misplaced, rendering the mask worthless if lost.
However, they are high-quality, making the price more bearable, and the valve simply unscrews for more straightforward cleaning. Simply keep a close watch on it.
Features & Specifications:
- Size: 18″
- Color: Black
- Material: Neoprene
- Closure Type: Strap
- Reusability: Reusable and Washable
- Item Weight: 0.17 Kilograms
- Universal fit
- Filters 99.5% of dust particles
- Ensures cleaner air and a more enjoyable experience
- Dual one-way valves release heat
- 3D Nosebox with improved seal
- Patent-pending Comfort Tek suspension straps
- Hook and loop adjustable rear strap
- Helmet and goggles compatible
05. 3M 8511 Paint Sanding Valved N95 Cool-Flow Respirator
The 3M 8511 Paint Sanding Valved N95 Cool-Flow Respirator, like other N95 masks, is approved to filter out 95% of hazardous particulate matter. It is readily accessible online and in shops, thanks to expanded manufacturing.
It stood out as one of the most comfortable respirator masks for long-term use in our tests since its design allowed us to breathe freely and had no edges that pressed on our cheeks.
Our testers, who varied in height from 5′ 3′′ to 6′ 1′′ and had light to heavy builds, found it to be effective against a wide variety of facial shapes and sizes.
The 3M 8511 boasts sturdier, woven straps that are less likely to break or hook in your hair than comparable disposable respirators with loosely stapled rubber bands for straps. (According to 3M, they are latex-free.)
The exhalation valve acts as a dehumidifier, keeping your face relaxed and reducing the likelihood of your glasses fogging up. However, this is not the same N95 mask you would use to prevent coronavirus transmission.
Features & Specifications:
- Size: 10 Pack
- Material: N95
- Style: Paint/Sanding
- Color: White
- Item Weight: 3.52 ounces
- Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 6.25 x 5 inches
- Thickness: 1 Inch
- Special Features: Exhalation Valve
- NIOSH approved N95
- 3M cool flow valve
- Adjustable M nose clip
06. SAS Safety 2985 Non-Toxic Dust Mask
SAS Safety’s dust mask is designed to keep out airborne dust, pollen, and particulates, otherwise known as nuisance dusts.
It does not, however, protect against dust from sanding or from fumes. It comes with an adjustable nose piece which shapes easily to face and a single strap elastic headband to ensure that a firm fit remains on the face.
07. 3M 8661PC1-A Home Dust Mask
These 3M dust masks are designed to be used in the home only, as they will offer relief from non-harmful household dust and reduce the inhalation of common household dust, dirt, pollen and grass clippings.
They are more so suitable for people who are doing regular projects in and around the house, however, if you are working with paints or aerosols, or in high dust environments, it would be more beneficial to use a stronger dust mask.
Often these will be worn as a cheap, disposable alternative in circumstances where people might be sweeping out a dusty area, mowing the lawn, or doing in-home construction or demolitions and require a method of respiratory protection.
08. 3M Aura Particulate Respirator
The 3M Aura N95 mask stands out from the crowd. I noted that the mask seemed lighter than others the first time I put it on.
Other masks pressed against my lips and constricted my nose, but the N95 stretched out from my face and it felt like I wasn’t wearing anything.
My mask remained on my face without sliding —from the train to the workplace to the grocery store. The best part was that I could breathe.
Unlike previous N95s, the air entering through the mask seemed fresh and crisp, and I didn’t get the claustrophobic feeling of heated air trapped against my face.
The 3M Aura is a flat-fold mask that provides dependable non-oil particle protection. The inner material adds comfort, while the adjustable nose clip assists in creating a unique fit.
The Aura Series includes a nose panel that matches the shape of your nose, enabling more space for eyeglasses.
It also has an embossed panel that helps decrease eyewear fogging from warm, wet exhaled air and a chin tab for easy placement, wearing, and adjustment.
I finished my day with a treadmill jog at my local gym, and I was surprised to discover that I could even breathe without gasping and puffing while doing cardio with this mask on.