It’s crucial to filter the air that you breathe. We’re not even talking about infectious diseases. As levels of pollution keep rising, the air gets filled with all sorts of allergens and dust particles. Furthermore, there are many workplaces and environments where people are exposed to dust on a regular basis. But there’s nothing to worry about. You can protect your respiratory system by wearing high-quality dust masks.

This article takes an in-depth look at various types of anti-dust facepieces. We will talk about their uses in daily life and explain how they differ from other types of respiratory protection equipment.

But that’s not all! As the demand for this product keeps increasing, the market becomes overflowed with cheap unreliable dust masks. That’s why it’s important to get a proper facewear. Want to learn about the best ones? Then, you’d want to stick until the end.

Why Should You Wear Dust Masks?

dust masks

Airborne pollution can pose a serious threat to our well-being. And it doesn’t concern only workplaces with massive levels of dust exposure. Even something as trivial as house clean-up can be potentially harmful to the respiratory system if you do it without proper protection.

According to data from medical facilities and institutions, continuous and regular exposure to airborne particles like mold and dust leads to severe health problems. They can include asthma aggravation, irritation of airways, lung problems, and even a risk of a stroke.

When Should You Wear Dust Masks?

When it’s a good idea to wear a facepiece? We think that it’s essential to wear dust masks for:

  • House renovation and general cleaning.
  • Backyard chores (like lawn mowing).
  • Motorcycle and bicycle riding.
  • Woodworking, ceramic work, and painting.
  • Protection against smoke.
  • In other dust-heavy settings (construction engineering, demolition, roadwork).
  • For general safety against infectious diseases.

What Are Dust Masks Made Of?

Dust masks and respirators vary in terms of quality. They are made out of different materials based on the country of manufacture, the company that produces it, and their purpose. It probably wouldn’t be a surprise for you that homemade cotton masks differ from P3 dust masks. 

However, if we’re talking about top-grade equipment, there are some things that they share in terms of composition.

  • They are made of cloth-like materials (cotton, poly woven fabric, neoprene, or silicone)
  • They have plastic or aluminum nose bridges.
  • Dust masks attach to the head with elastic straps.
  • Proper facewear must be BPA free, which means it doesn’t contain any lead or latex.

Types of Dust Masks

Dust masks come in three different types based on their filtering efficiency. It’s easy to find one that suits your activities or working environment.

P1

The P1 dust masks can filter up to 80% of particles that are 2-microns in size (or smaller).

What does it mean in simple terms? In practice, these masks ward off basic non-toxic airborne particles (dust and allergens).

P1 facewear provides excellent protection during house chores, motorcycle (bicycle) driving, and lawn mowing. These masks are also useful during activities that involve cutting or drilling.

P2

P2 dust masks filter over 94% of non-oil particles smaller than 0.5 microns. These pieces of facewear are a great choice for environments with moderate levels of dust concentration. They would be useful during woodcutting (sanding), construction engineering, grinding, or ceramic works.

P3

P3 masks offer the highest levels of filtering efficiency out of all respiratory protection equipment that isn’t certified by NIOSH. They stand at 99.95% of filtering efficiency for particles smaller than 0.5 microns in size.

What can they protect against? P3 dust masks provide sufficient protection against toxic pollutants, smoke, mist, and liquid aerosols. It’s safe to use this type of facewear during activities with high or unidentified levels of dust exposure. People who work in the pharmaceutical industry and other places with toxic particles would make great use of these masks.

Top 5 Dust Masks to Get in 2020 (For Various Purposes)

So, now you should see how useful dust masks can be for work or in daily life.

Ready to find out about the most effective dust masks on the market? Below, you’ll find our top picks for anti-dust masks for various settings and activities. Keep reading, and you’re guaranteed to find one that suits your needs.

1. RZ Mask – Dust (Pollution)

Key features:

  • Approximately 99.9% of filtering efficiency.
  • Viable against many types of hazardous particles (including viruses).
  • Doesn’t have a NIOSH approval (yet).
  • Made from neoprene.
  • Waterproof.
  • Dual valve for cooler breathing.
  • Reusable and washable.
  • Comes with 2 replaceable active carbon filters.
  • Available in S, L, and XL sizes.

RZ Mask provides great pollution-resistant facewear on certified factories. Their masks don’t yet have NIOSH approval. However, they offer a staggering 99.9% of filtering efficiency against hazardous types of airborne pollution (0.1 microns in size). In theory, this mask is viable against dangerous infections, viruses, and germs.

Why do we recommend it? This RZ dust mask has a comfortable low-profile design. The dual valves optimize the airflow and keep your breath cool during intense activities. The mask is very long-lasting because the material is resistant to humidity and abrasion.

However, the filters must be changed regularly. On the bright side, the replacement process isn’t hard and won’t take much of your time. This facemask comes packed with two replaceable carbon filters (each remains useful for up to 60 hours).

2. Honeywell Nuisance Disposable Dust Mask

Key features:

  • Viable against dust, odors, mold, pollen, and other non-toxic airborne pollutants.
  • Lightweight.
  • Resistance to humidity.
  • Adjustable nose bridge.
  • Latex-free and non-irritative.
  • Comes in one size.

Honeywell is a reputable US-based manufacturer of various industrial equipment, including half-face masks. Each mask is made in America from safe BPA-free materials.

This dust mask is a great choice if you want protection for non-contaminative pollutants. Even though it’s disposable, you can expect this mask to last for a full day. At the same time, the Honeywell dust mask is a very affordable product.

The adjustable nose bridge makes it possible to wear it without pressure points. On the downside, this mask won’t fit everyone. It’s available in one size only. Therefore, some people won’t find it comfortable. It also won’t create a tight seal if you have extensive facial hair.

3. MoHo Dust Mask (Upgraded Version)

Key features:

  • Anti-pollution mask that protects against non-toxic dust, fur, and pollen.
  • Good for running, fitness, and cycling.
  • Stylish and elastic design.
  • Made from premium nylon material.
  • Lightweight.
  • Reusable.
  • Comes in one size.

Moho’s dust mask is a reusable and affordable solution for routine tasks. Due to its weight and elastic design, this facepiece would fit most wearers (provided they don’t have facial hair).

It’s an excellent solution if you’re looking for fitness or a motorcycle facewear. It offers adequate protection against dust, fur, and other irritating particles. At the same time, the mask is extremely breathable due to two valves and a plethora of tiny holes in its shell.

4. Novemkada Dustproof Mask

Key features:

  • Viable against dust, vehicle and machinery exhaust, mold, pollen, and atoxic fumes.
  • Approximately 98% filtering efficiency.
  • Made from premium nylon material.
  • Comes with a carbon fiber filter.
  • Adjustable nose clip.
  • Two breathing valves.
  • Reusable and washable.
  • Long-lasting.

Looking for a practical solution against vehicle exhaust? This dustproof facepiece by Novemkada would be a great fit for outdoor work.

The mast is made from highly permeable material and features a double breathing valve. It means that it’s very breathable, which makes it comfortable in most environments.

Novemkada dustproof mask a great option for fitness, woodworking, sanding, and ceramic work. The mask is great for dust-heavy environments as well.

You don’t have to bother replacing it for a long time because it’s a sturdy product. Just make sure to take care of it and wash it from time to time. That way, you can stick to it for years.

5. Fightech Dust Mask

Key features:

  • Approximately 99% of filtering efficiency against the majority of non-oil based particles (dust, mold, fumes, odors, irritants), as well as toxic pollutants and viruses.
  • Suitable for woodwork, sanding, lawn mowing, ceramic work, and paint jobs.
  • Made from neoprene.
  • Earloop design creates a tight seal.
  • Sturdy and long-lasting.
  • Features two interchangeable N99 carbon filters
  • Washable.
  • NIOSH-approved.

Fightech Dust Mask is an excellent choice for protection during activities with substantial pollution levels. It’s also an incredibly comfortable mask for physical exercises.

This facewear won’t slip off by accident due to its earloop design. It makes this mask comfortable to wear while creating a good seal with the face. The mask is made from top-quality neoprene, which makes it sturdy and washable. What about protection?

This mask is equipped with interchangeable NIOSH-certified N99 respirator filters, which make it extremely useful against all types of airborne infection. It filters up to 99% of airborne particles, including germs, viruses, and flu. Fightech Dust Mask would be a great piece of respiratory protection equipment against COVID-19.

Anti-Dust Masks and Respirators: What is the Difference?

Picture by NIOSH.

As we already mentioned, there are three classes of dust masks: P1, P2, and P3. Each class offers a different filtering efficiency rate. These facepieces can be useful for various scenarios and environments. However, they have their limitations in terms of protective qualities.

For example, P-class dust masks can’t protect you from oil-based air particles. Additionally, they are not designed to ward off airborne diseases, viruses, and germs. They also won’t be very effective against smoke, toxic dust, and wildfire.

What about respirators?

Let’s start with the basics. In the US, the term “respirator masks” refers to protective facepieces that received approval by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (“NIOSH” for short) or the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA).

Certified respirators are characterized by high filtering efficiency. They can protect from up to 95.5% of the tiniest particles ranging from 0.1 to 0.3 microns in size.

There are 3 types of NIOSH-certified mask series: N, R, and P. All of these masks come in three levels of filtering efficiency: 95.5%, 99%, and 99.7%. Hence, the model name consists of the mask series type and filtering efficiency level. For example, the “N95” respirator means an N series mask with a 95.5% filtering efficiency.

What’s the difference between these mask series?

  1. N95, N99, and N100 respirators can protect against all types of hazardous airborne pollutants, including viruses and germs. However, they are useless against oil-based particulates.
  2. R95, R99, and R100 respirators offer limited protection against oil particles.
  3. P95, P99, and P100 are the strongest types of respirators that are viable against all kinds of airborne pollution. This includes oil aerosols and toxic fumes.

There are many manufacturers that produce proper respiratory protection equipment (like Vogmask, Honeywell, Moldex, and Kimberly Clark). Want to make sure you’re getting certified product? Then, check for a NIOSH label on the box or on the mask itself.

So, let’s sum up the key differences between a dust mask and a respirator.

  • Dust masks are a cost-effective solution against various types of atoxic pollutants.
  • NIOSH-certified respirators are more expensive, but they offer much higher filtering efficiency.
  • Dust masks are typically disposable, while many respirators are reusable.
  • Some respirators (R and P models) protect against oil-based aerosols.
  • Dust masks often have only one strap, while respirators have two straps that provide a tighter seal to the face.

Want protection during activities with high levels of dust exposure? Then, you should pick a disposable dust mask. If you’re looking to ward off hazardous airborne particles (vapors, fumes, gases, or viruses) – make sure to get NIOSH labeled facewear.

Understanding the Difference Between Surgical Masks and Dust Masks

Dust masks shouldn’t be confused with surgical masks either.

By now, you must have an understanding of anti-dust masks. But what makes them different from surgical (procedure) masks? Let’s see.

  • Disposable surgical masks don’t fit tightly to the face. That’s why they won’t be a good solution in places with high levels of dust concentration.
  • Surgical facewear is generally cheaper than dust masks.
  • Dust masks are geared towards a longer period of usage, whereas procedure masks must be replaced in a couple of hours.
  • Both types of masks aren’t fit against viruses if they don’t have NIOSH-approved filters.
  • Surgical masks with proper respirators are fit for protection against bodily liquids, diseases, flu, and germs.

Conclusion

In short, dust masks are a viable option for respiratory protection in various scenarios. They are perfect for many routine activities and workplaces. And with certified filters, they can become an excellent barrier to infectious diseases, germs, and flu.

We’re hoping that this article gave you useful insight into various types of dust masks and respirators. If you have any more questions, feel free to refer to the FAQ section.

Now, are you ready to order a mask for yourself?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can dust masks protect against mold?

Standard anti-dust facepieces won’t give you enough mold protection. They don’t have the required filtering efficiency, nor do they meet WHO or CDC guidelines.

However, there are some models of dust masks with respirators that can ward off mold particles.

Want to get good protection? Then, you better stick to the NIOSH-approved respirators (for example, the N95 mask).

Do dust masks offer good filtering during painting?

The respiratory system is highly exposed to dust particles and paint fumes during painting and renovation. P2 and P3 types of dust masks are more than enough to safeguard you from negative effects.

Furthermore, it’s not safe to engage in such activities without proper protection. To achieve the maximal level of safety, you should pick a right mask with a secure seal. Mind your facial hair, because it creates gaps and leaves the respiratory system open to fumes.

What kind of dust mask do I need for ceramics?

FFP2 (P2) anti-dust mask with at least 94% of filtering efficiency should suffice for ceramic work.

Studies show that ceramics classrooms and workshops have heightened levels of respirable crystalline silica, as well as dust particles. Proper respiratory protection equipment is essential to avoid potential health problems.

You might want to shave before doing actual work. Beards (and facial hair in general) can loosen the seal, which makes you more susceptible to airborne pollutants. Also, you need to replace your facewear on a regular basis for maximal protection.

Are they effective during metal sanding (woodworking)?

It’s recommended to use NIOSH-certified facial equipment during activities with high levels of dust exposure.

At the same time, P1 and P2 exposable dust masks would do you fine as well. Still, you have to wear the facepiece properly and follow the safety tips. They include: keeping your mask dry, controlling your breath, and replacing the dust mask after a couple of hours of continuous use (or when it starts to feel damp).

Would any of these dust masks be good for filtering out exhaust from a lawnmower?

Any dust mask will offer fine protection during lawn mowing.

Without any facewear, however, you’d be exposed to potential allergens, as well as to smoke. You are guaranteed to safeguard your respiratory system if you wear at last P1 grade dust mask or a surgical mask.

Are dust masks good for filtering fire (wildfire) smoke?

Yes. Face coverings are a recognized way to offer extra layers of safety against smoke. Inhaling smoke particles can lead to respiratory diseases and lung damage.

However, not every dust mask can help you against smoke exposure. According to the public health department representatives, you should stick to respirators that were approved by NIOSH. Respirators like the N95 would make a great choice.

Would dust masks work as a germ/flu prevention device?

We can’t recommend even the most advanced dust masks as a means of protection against germs of flu. In theory, P3 masks offer a sufficient filtering efficiency to block hazardous particles. But these masks weren’t designed for this type of protection.

If you want to get reliable respiratory protection against airborne infection, you should opt for NIOSH certified respirators (N95, N99, N100, or corresponding R and P models).

Are masks approved by the CDC or NIOSH good for protection against viruses?

Respiratory protection equipment approved by NIOSH or CDC (N95, P95, R95 respirators) is a viable method of protection against airborne infection. These respirators offer over 95.5% of filtering efficiency. Thus, they can protect against flu, germs, and viruses.

There’s an equivalent for NIOSH-recognized masks for countries in the European Union. “EN-149” FFP3 masks offer 99% of filtering capability and can provide adequate protection against various types of viruses (including COVID-19).

Do dust masks come with a filter?

Dust masks can come with NIOSH-approved respiratory filters.

As we already mentioned, respirators with potent protective capabilities include N, R, and P series models.

How to wear a dust mask properly?

Wearing a mask incorrectly can nullify its protective qualities. Doing it wrong can pose even more risks compared to not wearing any facepiece at all.

Make sure to follow the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendations on the use of masks. Even though it concerns the coronavirus pandemic, it also applies to how you should wear all types of masks to maximize their effectiveness.

  • Hand hygiene is essential. Wash the hands with soap before and after touching the mask. Applying alcohol-based substances is even better.
  • The dust mask should cover your airways (starting from the top of the nose to the tip of the chin).
  • Facial hair negates some of the protective qualities because it creates gaps between the mask and the face.
  • Pick the right size of the mask to make sure it seals around your face.
  • Replace dust masks on a regular basis (after two or more hours of use or if you feel it’s starting to get damp).

How to make a homemade mask?

Making a protection mask is easy, even at your home. If you have appropriate equipment (sewing machine) – making a facewear won’t pose many challenges. The materials you need include:

  1. Cotton
  2. Tape or fabric strips
  3. Pipe cleaner or a simple plastic twist tie.

Use various patterns available online (or follow this link). Additionally, you can watch one of these videos on how to make a dust mask.

How long can you use a dust mask?

If we’re talking about disposable surgical and anti-dust facewear, then it has a limited period of effectiveness. As a rule of thumb, it protects you during the first 90 minutes of use. Afterward, it gradually loses protective properties.

After 2 hours and 30 minutes of continuous wearing, disposable masks become pretty much useless.

Reusable anti-dust facepieces and respirators are a different story. However, you need to maintain them regularly. Reusable masks should be washed and left to dry until you can wear them again.

Should I use reusable or disposable masks?

According to recommendations from the CDC, reusable respirators are also just as effective as disposable ones.

However, you should remember that any mask should be replaced after a certain period of continuous wearing. Furthermore, even reusable respirators have filters that must be tossed away after a specific time.