Are you a professional or part-time welder or a hobbyist who is experiencing nausea, dizziness, and loss of vision recently? Have you heard what welding can do to your lungs if not a protective measure is used?
Health problems are one of the pressing concerns of every welder because hazardous elements may differ in types, but they are omnipresent in all kinds of fumes. If you get exposed to heat, fillers, etc. regularly, it may seriously hamper your health conditions.
What can you do? You can ensure you buy the best welding respirator to protect yourself from severe hazards and we have this article to guide you in your hunt.
In a Hurry? Check Out Our Top 5 Picks of Welding Respirators
Why Should You Use A Welding Respirator?
If you’re a welder, you must be aware of the silent threats that the welding hazards possess. Filler metals, coatings, base metals, etc. are some of the dangerous elements, and there is always fumes to make you more prone to sickness. A respirator will help you keep protected against these hazards.
Some people often think that the fumes are not too dangerous, but it is a wrong notion as fumes contain harmful materials like hexavalent chromium and zinc, which may severely damage your respiratory system.
Although OSHA has provided a limit to determine permissible exposure to chromium and zinc for welders, there are lots of other contaminants which will be unseen and yet will seriously worsen your health.
In an area where there is no proper ventilation or local exhaust, a welding respirator becomes a necessary tool. The ventilator will also protect you from several diseases that welders can face, such as asthma, lung cancer, irritation of nose and throat, etc.
We can predict what will happen to us if we don’t use respirators but in a certain way we are not even sure about all the possible dangers and thus to protect us from the diseases mentioned above or worse, we will need to use respirators.
It is difficult to predict the measure of all types of fumes for all kinds of jobs but what we know for sure is that fumes contain materials like fluorides, silicates, and metallic oxides and for which we will need protection.
We don’t even know what can happen to us due to long-term exposure to paints, coatings, and solvents. Thus to avoid uncertainty and stay protected and prevent diseases, we need respirators. It will help you breath clean and uncontaminated air.
Types Of Respiratory Masks
OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) has published a list of the several types of masks with increasing protection factor (PF). The types of covers are as follows:
- Single Strap Dust Mask
- Approved Filtering Facepieces
- Half-face respirators
- Full-face respirators
- Loose-fitting powered air purifying respirators (PAPR)
- Self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA)
Now let’s have an in-depth look at all the covers.
1. Single Strap Dust Mask
This is the simplest type of mask and usually is not recommended for ensuring utmost safety.
2. Approved Filtering Facepieces
It is a type of facepiece which filters various kinds of mists, and fumes. If you’re working in a place with gases and vapors, then it is not recommended for you.
3. Half-Mask Respirator
It is also known as a tight-fitting respirator. What it does is, it tightly covers the space starting from your nose down to your chin and keeps that area tight and works efficiently.
If you work in a place which has welding fumes, gases, and vapors, then you can use this mask without any doubt, but it will need to be matched with the hazardous process. It has been assigned a protection factor of 10.
4. Full-Mask Respirator
Just like the half-mask a full-mask respirator tightly covers the portion of your face that the half-mask covers and the added benefit of this one is that it also covers the eyes and other exposed skin of your face and protects you against gases and fumes.
The face shield will guard you against irritants and contaminants, and your eyes will be safer, and you will be able to concentrate more.
5. Loose-Fitting Powered Air Purifying Respirators (PAPR)
This type of mask is unique as it doesn’t only protect you by being a guard but also forces the ambient air to blow through and purify through the air-purifying contraption it has.
The filters will need to match the contaminants, and it needs to be changed periodically, and it is often the best choice for bearded welders.
It also uses a hose to the hood or helmet of the welders. This hose is unique because it is attached with the blower which is often connected to the waist of the welder and the purified air it blows is then used by the welder to get fresh air.
6. Self Contained Breathing Apparatus
It works like a gate and will allow you to enter and escape from conditions that can be dangerous for your health. Usually, welders don’t face these types of situations often, but they may see oxygen deficiency in some places.
Welders will be able to use this mask which uses its air tank, and thus the welders will be able to breathe properly in a toxic place.
Types of Filters
Knowing the types of filters is essential before beginning your welding job. We will first have a look at particulate filters.
Filters are needed for filtering welding fumes. Most of the welding fumes consist of solid particles and for that particulate filters are used.
Some particulate filters can provide resistance to oil and mist while some can’t. For this reason, the particulate filters are classified into three categories: N (Not resistant to oil), R (Resistant to oil), and P (Oil-proof).
These filters are further classified according to their HEPA quality, which can be as high as 100. Filtering efficiency differs for all of these categories, and they can be 95, 97, or 100. All can take 95, 97, or 100 depending on their filtration.
For example, an N95 will mean that it is not resistant to oil, filtering 95% of particles over 0.3 microns.
Now you might be thinking about when you should be using which filter. To make it easier, remember that you should not use N type of filter when there’s oil. Also, for ordinary welding fume where mostly oil mist isn’t a factor, using N95 could be efficient.
Heavy metals like lead, cadmium, and beryllium will require you to use a class 100 type filter. What you need to remember is particulate filters will often get clogged and soiled, and you will need to replace them periodically in case they seem damaged or painful to breathe through.
Also, vapors and gases can’t be removed by particulate filters, and you will need an activated carbon filter which will remove these materials by a chemical reaction. You will also need a cartridge depending on which type of vapor you’re dealing with. Cartridges don’t get clogged and don’t need to be serviced regularly.
Best Welding Respirator Reviews
Now that you’re aware of how useful a respirator is let’s look at some of the finest respirators for you to choose from.
1. 3M Rugged Comfort Quick Latch Half Facepiece Reusable Respirator
This one is known for its affordability, safety-ensuring capability and comfort. It is one of the best respirators out there which can be bought to work without any tension or stress of getting attacked with hazards.
The best thing about this one is that you will get three options to choose from and this is good for user satisfaction as you will be able to select large, medium and small-sized masks according to your preference.
It uses a resilient silicone face seal which protects you from fumes, and it also has a cool flow valve which allows you to regulate the temperature when you are working with it. You will not sweat while wearing this, and you will be able to work comfortably.
The quick latch mechanism of this mask is another exciting feature that allows you to remove the cover from the face without needing to remove the straps.
Durability and reliability are often the two most common terms used to describe the quality of this mask. It can last a lifetime as it is made from silicone and nylon. You will also be able to reuse it, and the replacement cost of the cartridge is meager. It will guard you against lung cancer and kidney diseases.
- Three sizes to choose from
- Has a cooling valve to regulate temperature
- Approved by OSHA
- Can be used with different filters
- Fogging is reduced by the exhalation valve cover
Frequently Asked Questions
- Does this one come with a set of filters?
No, it doesn’t, and you will have to buy them separately depending on the substance that you’re trying to filter.
- How will I know which size will fit me?
You can look for the OSHA chart for masks and compare it, and also you can get an idea from some videos, but in general, if you’re an average sized person, it is likely that you will need a medium sized mask.
2. 2. 3M Half Facepiece Reusable Respirator
A combination of convenience and comfort, the masks of this series are easy to use, easy to adjust too and can be cleaned and reused without any hassle. This one is one of the cheapest masks which is also very good at what it does.
It is a reliable and convenient respirator which will protect you from different types of hazards. If you’re looking to combine it with particulate filters or cartridges, you’re bound to get a good result. Dual-airline system users will also be able to use it.
If you’re concerned about gases, vapors, and particulate hazards, then you must opt for this half facepiece one as it will protect you from these things and it has a protection factor which is ten times the Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL).
Some people are confused about which size to choose while buying a respirator. It will relieve you of those worries as you will choose from 3 sizes.
You will see that there are straps on the back of this mask which you will need to adjust to your face and once adjusted, you will be able to work for extended periods with maximum comfort.
- Release valve to regulate humidity
- Approved by NIOSH for air purifying
- Reusable and can be cleaned
- Oil-proof mask
- Replaceable filters
Frequently Asked Questions
- Does this work against asbestos?
According to the manufacturer and user reviews, it does work.
- How can you clean this mask?
It’s better to use mild soap with warm water, although you can also use alcohol or soak it overnight for better cleaning.
3. GVS SPR457 Elipse P100 Half Mask Respirator
If you’re looking for a mask to use for multiple purposes, then you shouldn’t look further as this is the one for you and it will also provide you with maximum comfort, and as it is lightweight, it will be the perfect pick.
You’re a welder, and you’re looking for a respirator. What is the first thing that you want in your respirator? I’m sure most of the people will answer that it should be durable. This mask will offer you just that. It is made with high-quality thermoplastic, and the construction standards are high too.
Many people are often concerned about the size of the respirator and whether or not it will fit their face. However, this one is not too small but not too big either and has the average size required by most people.
As this product only weighs around 6 ounces, it will not be too heavy for you, and you won’t get any stress from wearing the strap to your neck. The straps are also very comfortable and won’t pinch your skin, which will allow you to work for extended periods with ease.
Innovative P100 filters are used in this one, and thus it ensures the maximum protection, and it is known to prevent lung cancer to a great extent. It also has a central non-return valve which allows you to breathe with ease, and the moisture level is also controlled.
- Very lightweight
- Has P100 cartridges (Replaceable)
- Straps are comfortable and non-slip
- Reliable protection against lung cancer
- Dust, feed, coal, mold, etc. are also prevented easily
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can it prevent hazards in congested places?
Yes, it can certainly protect you in any workstation that you choose, and you will also find comfort in a congested place working with it.
- Does it come with filters?
Yes, it comes with 1 set of filters which is P100.
4. 3M Full Facepiece Reusable Respirator
Are you the type of person who thinks that using a respirator will be an extra burden as it will block your vision and will be uncomfortable? This one will then solve your problems as it doesn’t have either of the problems mentioned above.
Construction of this mask has been done considering the needs of individual people who think that a respirator will only be a hassle, but this one has identified that and has installed a large lens with a broad view area, so the user can see what he/she is working on all the time.
The face mask is made of silicone, and you will get proper comfort and will be able to clean it from time to time. The cover is durable. While operating, you will be able to select air-supplied and air-purifying modes.
There is a center adapter installed in this respirator which pushes all the exhaled vapor downwards and prevents the viewing screen from getting fogged. There is a cold flow valve installed in it, which will allow you to breathe with ease and comfort.
It has been approved by NIOSH, and thus if you’re concerned about protecting your eyes and face, you should not worry anymore. Filtration requirements will be met easily by this one, and it is also reusable. The full face feature enables you to protect yourself more than the half-face one.
- Has a large lens and a widened view
- Balanced and not heavy
- Has a center adapter
- Reusable and durable
- Approved by NIOSH and protects the full face
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can I use it for chemical cleanup?
Yes, you will be able to use it for chemical cleanup, handling, splash, furnace operations, laboratories, and so on.
- Can I use my eyeglasses with it?
Although most of the people didn’t find any problems by using it with eyeglasses, you may try this one with your glasses if they are thin enough, but it should suit with your glasses comfortably.
5. Half Mask Respirator, M/L, Single Filter
Maximized protection and the use of top-tier filters make this one of the best respirators out there, and the size can be optimized according to your liking, and it also ensures a tight seal between your face and skin.
If you’re a welder you must always want to wear your protective glasses, and in case you have prescription glasses you might not always be able to wear all types of respirators, but this one will allow you to wear your glasses with it without any discomfort.
There are two straps to fit this respirator to your head, and the process is relatively simple and easy. The thermoplastic elastomer has been used in this product to create the gasket, and thus it will be comfortable for you, and you won’t sweat much.
You will notice that there are two cartridges in this one and one of them will work as a filter, and the other one will work as the inlet valve. If you face trouble with breathing while using a respirator and don’t want to use it anymore, you can give this one a try as it has an exhaust valve to help your breathing.
This product has been designed in such a way that air is kept to minimum amounts within this one, and thus it will remove the extra moisture and humidity, and you will also not feel irritated while working in a warm condition.
- Has an exhaust valve
- The gasket is made with thermoplastic elastomer
- Cartridges work as filter and inlet valve
- Can be worn with prescription glasses
- Straps are elastic
Frequently Asked Question
- Is it right to use it where there is spray paint?
It doesn’t protect you from all chemical fumes and works well against dust only so it is not recommended to use where there is spray paint.
- Will I be able to wear them with my hood and glasses?
You will be able to wear them with your glasses. For the case of hoods, some users said it fit just fine while others reported problems, so it may be better not to use a hood.
Things to look for before buying
Now that you’ve decided to buy welding respirator for protection, you should look at some important aspects before buying your preferred one. Here are some things you may consider.
You should look at your working conditions before you go out to buy a respirator. Some respirators may not work in full working places and in places where this not proper ventilation. You should look for these facilities in your respirator. Also, keep in mind that overheating is an issue here.
Re-usability will be a big issue if you’re planning to buy a respirator. For example, if you think disposable respirators will cost you much less than the reusable ones, you might be in trouble when you need to change them every other day.
Disposable respirators are suitable for one-time use only while reusable ones will provide you service for a long time.
You may think that you don’t need to compare your preferred ones to the other ones out there. But you’re certainly wrong. You have a lot of options to choose from, and you should look for the specific requirements that you need and compare one model with another to get your hands on the best one.
If you have a product which you can rely on, it certainly makes your life easier — a respirator if durable will decrease your tensions in the long run.
Respirators don’t tend to wear and tear as much as other welding equipment. However, you should buy respirators that have thick straps as they tend to last more and also ones with filters which aren’t susceptible to breaking and for that you shouldn’t buy filters which are tiny and made of plastic.
Most people often get confused with picking the perfect size for their welding respirator. If you don’t get the size right, it will not be able to protect you and also it will become a hassle for you in the long run and will cost you more money.
What you should do is to ensure that the respirator fits your head size and is also comfortable for you. You should also try them on with your hoods because even the company’s hoods may not adjust with their own respirators. Thus, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
You should also consider your face structure before selecting the size as the products usually come in an array of sizes from medium to large.
This is the most important thing for any welder. Most welders think that a respirator will only increase their problems.
However, if you buy a respirator which is not too clunky and fits comfortably and has an ergonomic shape and design and is OSHA approved, you would be encouraged to wear it all the time when you work.
You should also know your contaminants and act accordingly to choose your filters, and a sense of protection in your mind will ensure your safety.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Do you still have some questions? Have a look at this section, and you might find the answers you’re looking for.
1. What are the best brands that I should look for while buying?
Well, some of the brands have already made a name for themselves in this department. Some famous brands are 3M, GVS, Miller, and Honeywell.
2. Will I have breathing problems while using respirators?
Most of the respirators these days have individual valves to maintain comfort and reduce problems while breathing. You should check before buying for these valves.
3. Do I need to clean the respirator?
Yes, it is recommended to clean the respirator every day to keep it prepared for the next use. You should clean it after using it.
4. Can I clean my respirators with oil?
You should avoid oil, lanolin, or any cleaner that may have these elements because it will get infected otherwise.
5. Which respirator can I use while welding stainless steel?
A powered air respirator with a particle filter will protect you from any types of hazards like chromium and nickel.
6. How long will my respirator offer me protection?
This depends on two factors. One of which is your working environment. Working in an environment with lots of hazards, then your respirator will not last much. Also, the model you buy will matter in this case.
7. What should I do when my respirator can’t filter anymore?
In case your respirator loses its capability to filter, you should first get into a safe area away from hazards and replace it.
8. How can I clean my respirator?
You may clean, wash, and rinse it in a warm solution before drying it in a non-contaminated area.
As there are hundreds of best welding respirators to choose from, you might feel overwhelmed. But you shouldn’t as we have made a shortlist already which you can go through again.
After analyzing over hundreds of things, we feel that the most excellent welding respirator according to portability and flexibility is GVS SPR457 while the best one for suction power is 3M Rugged Comfort. You can buy the Half Mask Respirator from Miller if you’re looking for a warranty on your product.