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Guide to 3M Masks: Ins and Outs of Anti-Hazard Respirators

Do you want to get reliable protection against airborne viruses and bacteria? Are you looking to ward off dust during daily house chores? Or you need a facepiece for welding and construction engineering? As you may know, there are many reasons to get respiratory protection equipment nowadays. And in this guide, we will tell you about 3M masks.

Respirator masks by 3M are one of the most sought-after anti-hazard respirators available for purchase right now. Proceed further if you want to discover more about the technology behind these masks. And, if you read until the end, you’ll learn how to find the most suitable facepiece and maximize it’s filtering efficiency.

Let’s get to it!

What Is a 3M mask?

3M (formerly – Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company) is a large US-based corporation that was founded back in 1902 with the headquarters in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

 This organization focuses on producing consumer goods, as well as industrial and health care equipment. Actually, there are over 60 thousand products being sold by this company as of now. That includes their respiratory protection equipment.

3M masks are one of the most known products of this organization that are made for the general public. Their masks are popular not only in America. They are actively exported to Latin American countries and Canada.However, during the coronavirus pandemic, the company’s main priority is the supply of US citizens with highly efficient N95 respirator masks. Furthermore, the price for 3M respirators in America remains much lower compared to how much they cost in other countries.


What Material Are 3M Masks Made Of?

The sealing surface of the mask, as well as the shell and coverweb, is made from Polyester. The filter and nose foam are composed of Polypropylene.

Also, the nose clip is from aluminum, and an adjustable strap is made of thermoplastic elastomer. The whole construction doesn’t contain any rubber latex.

Where Are 3M Masks Made?

3M produces the majority of respirator masks on the US-based factories. However, some of their facepieces are being manufactured in China.

That being said, you’re most likely going to get a US-made respirator mask if you order it from outside of Asia. By the way, masks in Asian countries cost much higher than those that are sold in America. Furthermore, you can check the package’s box to identify your mask’s country of manufacture.


3M Respirators: Protective Qualities

3M offers a wide variety of face masks for different purposes. There are unvavled and valved N95 respirators for the general public, facepieces that can protect during welding and metal pouring, as well as healthcare respirators and surgical masks.

Each N95 mask features respirators that were approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). What does that mean?

These respirators can effectively filter at least 95% of airborne particles that up to 0.3-micron in size. So, when you see a respirator being labeled as “N95”, it means that is has a NIOSH certification, while the number indicates the level of filtering efficiency.

We should note that N95 facepieces can’t protect against oil-based aerosols. For that, you’d want to get NIOSH-approved “R” or “P” respirator by 3M.

So, what are 3M respirators good against? They’re verified to ward off various kinds of airborne pollution, including:

  • non-toxic dust;
  • smoke;
  • odors;
  • allergens;
  • mold;
  • viruses;
  • bacteria.

Does 3M respirator protect against smoke?

Respirators by 3M can protect against smoke and machine exhaust. They offer adequate levels of protection even if you encounter natural hazards or wildfire, but only if you hurry away from the source of the danger.

Can this mask protect against viruses (COVID-19 / Coronavirus)?

Yes, these masks can filter dangerous airborne viruses, including coronavirus. However, you need to wear them properly. Want to know more about it? Then, keep reading until the end.

What Material Are 3M Masks Made Of?

The sealing surface of the mask, as well as the shell and coverweb, is made from Polyester. The filter and nose foam are composed of Polypropylene. Also, the nose clip is from aluminum, and an adjustable strap is made of thermoplastic elastomer. The whole construction doesn’t contain any rubber latex.

Now, what about the technology behind these masks?

Featured Technologies:

Image is taken from the 3M official website.

As we said before, 3M offers many types of NIOSH-certified respirators for various uses. Let’s take a glance at the technologies behind these facepieces.

Faceseal

All 3M masks are made with lightweight silicon material. It provides a tight and secure seal between a facepiece and the wearer’s face while remaining comfortable enough to not push hard against the cheeks.

M-Noseclip

Respirators by this company have adjustable nose clips that guarantee you don’t suffer from any pressure points during wearing.

Cool Flow Exhalation Valve

It’s a one-way valve that provides increased comfort and keeps you cool during breathing. This tech also helps you reduce moisture and heat build-up, as well as prevents you from fogging up the eyewear.

Cake-Resistant Filter Media

Featured in 3M Welding and Metal Pouring N95 respirators series, this tech provides layered filtering for comfortable breathing during welding.

Carbon Filter Material

The carbon filter helps with various nuisances, like vapors, non-toxic gases, and unpleasant odors.


Which 3M Respirator Do I Need?


To pick the most suitable respiratory protection equipment, we recommend following these steps.

Type of Protection

Identify what kind of protection do you need. There are different kinds of masks for activities that involve house chores, pharmaceutics, welding, and metal pouring.

Respirator Model

Each respirator series has many variations. They offer the same level of filtering efficiency but can differ in terms of design and available sizes. Also, keep in mind that only “R” and “P” facepieces can filter oil-based aerosols.

Size

Some models come in one size, while the others are available in multiple sizes. How do you pick a suitable respirator to get the best seal? It’s easy – follow this link to get to the official guide to each of the 3M respirator mask series.

From the 3M website.

Take notice that models that have a letter “S” at the end (like 9105S or 8110S) are made for children and people with smaller faces.


How Many Times Can You Wear This Mask?

There’s no time limit on how long you should wear a 3M mask. The company that produces this equipment states that you should discard each facepiece after it becomes damaged, dirty, or when it becomes difficult to breathe through.

For example, do you feel that your mask starts to feel damp? Then, it’s time to replace it.


How Long Does a 3M Mask Last?

As we just mentioned, you should wear a 3M mask until it gets too dirty, when it becomes damp, or when you find it hard to breathe through.

What about the overall life of the product? Based on this guide, the majority of 3M respirators last for approximately five years after the manufacture date. That said, some products (like 3M Welding and Metal Pouring Respirators) won’t last longer than three years since creation. You should always check the product’s box for more information.


Can You Wash a Disposable 3M Mask?

According to the manufacturer (and common sense), you shouldn’t wash a disposable 3M facepiece if you don’t want to ruin it. It’s not recommended to clean it either. After a certain time of wearing, each respirator should be properly disposed of and replaced.

What about reusing them? It’s also not endorsed by 3M. These respirators capture all sorts of dangerous particles as you’re wearing them. That included bacteria, specks of dust, and viruses. Therefore, you should replace them after a while (see above) to achieve adequate filtering efficiency. But that’s not all!

To maximize the effectiveness of these masks, you should wear them the right way. How exactly?


How to Wear a 3M Mask Correctly?

WHO guidelines on wearing a medical mask.

It’s important to use respiratory protection equipment properly for your own safety. Otherwise, you risk exposing yourself to even more danger.

How do you maximize the protective qualities of 3M masks? For that, you need to refer to the technical documentation, as well as to the official WHO guidelines.

Let’s summarize the key points:

  • Put the 3M respirator (or any other facepiece) on in a clean area with a minimal level of contaminants.
  • Perform thorough hand hygiene before putting on the mask. WHO recommends using alcohol-based substances, but thoroughly washing hands with soap and water will do fine as well.
  • The respirator should seal your face. To do that, you need to pick a properly sized facepiece (see above to learn about the sizes) and make sure not to leave any gaps between the filter and your face.
  • Facial hair tends to interfere with the sealing surface, thus exposing you to airborne pollutants. Your beard also shouldn’t contact the valve.
  • If you need to remove the facepiece temporarily – do it by touching it behind your ears (without contacting the front of the mask).
  • Avoid readjusting the 3M mask while you wear it. If you absolutely need to – disinfect or clean your hands beforehand.

Proper hand hygiene and an appropriate mask size can increase the filtering efficiency of any respirator. That way, you are much more likely to ward off dangerous bacteria and viruses, including COVID-19.


Conclusion

Let’s sum everything up. 3M offers efficient and reliable respirators for people in many regions of the world. Yet, the main focus of the company during the coronavirus pandemic remains on supplying the US citizens with top-quality respiratory protection equipment for a reasonable price. Looking for a proper protective facepiece? Then, these respirators definitely deserve your attention.

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