When working with paints, you expose yourself to many chemicals. Many of which give a shining, beautiful, and long-lasting cover, but they are also harmful. Most people think it is fine wearing long sleeves t-shirts and trousers, but the invisible gas is just as dangerous.
So which painters mask should you wear? What are the best brands? And how to use one the right way? Here is a helpful guide for you.
People often underestimate the effect of spray painting on their health, especially when they only use it in a short amount of time for DIY projects. But it is highly recommended to always wear painters mask when you are painting. No matter if you are sanding, spaying, or using other painting method, chances that you are susceptible to toxic chemicals from the paint vapors and dust.
Some hazards often found in spray paints cannot be filtered with activated carbon: Isocyanates, Acetone, Xylene, Toluene, Methyl Ethyl Ketone
Reasons to wear respiratory masks:
According to a research in the UK, the workers who worked in automotive painting were more likely to have asthma, which is incurable as a result of frequent inhalation of isocyanates. Besides, other harmful gases and particles affect you in different ways.
Minor and instant short-term health effects:
Delayed syndrome and long-lasting health damages:
This should be more than enough reasons for you to wear protective masks the next time you do some paint works. But before sprinting to the nearest stores, you should expect that there are many kinds and hundreds of brands out there. Different masks would serve for different kinds of purpose and stages of your painting projects. Here are a few tips to choose the best and suitable ones.
First, you have to decide if your work will take place outdoors or in a closed space like inside your house or in a painted tent. If it is the latter, you must choose respirators incorporating disposable cartridges. The cartridges that contain substances to absorb toxic fumes must be changed every few months or when you can smell paint even when wearing the mask properly. Yes, they expire!
Next, you must learn which types of paint (and their ingredients too) you will use. Solvent-based or oil-based paints usually have more negative effects on your health than water-based paint – which can be cleaned with soap and warm water. So let’s dive into all types of respiratory protection below.
Other things you may also consider are:
Here are our top 5 recommended painters masks. The review will focus on the respirators’ design and be brief about their complements like compatible filters and cartridges for reference.
The 3M 7500 Series – Half-facepiece Reusable Respirators are made of thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), which provided better grip. They come in various sizes: small 6100, medium 6200, and large 6300; the medium measure: 8 x 6 x 4 inches and 4.04 ounces.Besides the 3M 6000 Series Cartridge (Black, Olive, Yellow, White, and Green color code), this respiratory can go with other lines of 3M filters like 2000, 2200, 5000, and 7000 Series (up to P100). Even the 3M Dual Airline can be used to supply fresh air.
Another safety specification that you should look at is the APF. The 3M 6000 series is certified with APF 10 by OSHA, which is common for most half-face respirators.
The 3M 7500 series respirators are made of silicone, which boasts of improving the comfort experience.
They also come in various sizes: small 7501, medium 7502, and large 7503. The dimensions of the medium are as follows. 8.8 x 12 x 3.8 inches, 6.7 ounces.
This series is compatible with various 3M respiratory protective products like 6000 Series Cartridge; 2000, 2200, 5000, and 7000 Series (up to P100) Filters; and Dual Airline Systems. With an APF 10 class, the respirator guarantees to protect you at concentrations 10 times more than the permitted exposure level. And the feature of 3M Cool Flow makes it less fogging, easier breathing and cleaning.
or any protective headwear
Unlike the two mentioned above, this is a full-face respirator that comes with other accessories to make a convenient kit for the painters. The kit comes with 3M a full-face reusable respirator, filters, and cartridges, so you don’t have to buy them separately.
The respiratory mask is made of silicone or thermoplastic elastomer (TPE). It also features 3M Cool Flow like the 3M 7500 series, and allows you to use it with a fresh air supply system for easier breathing. But this full-face protection only comes in two sizes: medium R68P71C/07162 and large R69P71C/07163. The dimensions of the medium are as follows 12 x 12 x 12 inches, 1.37 pounds.
The kit includes P95 filters and organic vapor cartridges, but you can replace them with 3M 6000 Series Cartridge (Black, Olive, Yellow, White, and Green color code); 3M 2000, 2200, 5000, and 7000 Series (up to P100) Filters.
In the qualitative fit test, the full-face mask is classed AFP 10, while in the quantitative fit test, it can protect up to 50 times permitted exposure level (APF 50).
Safety Works has many respirators (both half-mask and full-mask) that can be used for many purposes.
The respiratory mask is made of latex-free soft thermoplastic elastomer (TPE). There is only one size, with 3D dimensions measure 4.1 x 10.5 x 11 inches, weighs 15.5 ounces.
Like other half-mask respirators, it is in the APF 10 class. You can use the SWX filters (up to P100) and cartridges (Black and White color code) to replace on schedule, which means you are well protected from oil-based paints.
The Safety Works Multi-Purpose Respirator is also made of latex-free soft thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), providing comfort. It only has one size as well, 11 x 3.5 x 10.3 inches in three dimensions and weights up to around 6.1 ounces.
This respirator, certified APF 10, protects you from various hazards as its name suggested. It is compatible with many SWX filters (up to P100) and cartridges that work well against organic vapor, Hydrogen Chloride, Chlorine, Sulfur Dioxide, etc.
Buying a good respirator is one step, but it is actually how you wear it the right way that completes the safety process. Here are five simple steps for you to follow and can be applied to most types of painters mask:
But that was not enough; there are other things you need to do to maximize the effectiveness of the mask.
You may want to shave or trim facial hair since it can create a gap between your face and the mask, allowing hazards to go in. Even though you can press or stuff them in the mask, you shouldn’t take the risk.
Besides, putting on the mask before you wear protective eyewear may be a wiser choice. Otherwise, the headband or the strap of goggles may loosen the mask seal.
Most respiratory masks for painters are reusable. Cleaning the mask after using, keeping it in sealed containers like resealable packages or cases, out of your workplace for later use are recommended.
You should also remove the cartridges from the mask and store them in sealed plastic bags. This method is to make sure they won’t absorb any airborne particles when they are not in use, and thus prolong their lifetime.
3M is the manufacturer with a good reputation and hundreds of products in the personal protection category. In their package, they also give clear instruction, details of the product, and a NIOSH stamp of approval.
This brand is the first to come to mind as it is widely available, at different price ranges, comes in different sizes, and gives protection at many levels. But if you get lost in their matrix model, go for the 3M 6000 series.
It is the most affordable and gives adequate protection against many types of paints and harmful chemical. Its lightweight and smart design also make it the most comfortable for people who have to work long hours on complicated projects.
The best protection against spray paint hazards is respiratory masks. Others like dust, odor, and surgical masks won’t do, because they cannot absorb most of the harmful gases in spray paint.
Surgical mask works the opposite way of a respirator, preventing bacteria in your mouth from entering the air. Meanwhile, particulate masks only work for non-oil-based paints.
The best is to research, read the details as well as recommended applications of the masks to know what it can protect you from.
As mentioned above, disposable masks only provide certain protection against limited kind of paints. It is advisable to invest in a reusable one which can protect you against many hazards. Some are now designed for easy filter/cartridge replacement and cleaning.
It depends on the workload and exposure. In case of works that are more extensive or expose you to more visual hazard, opt for full-face for complete protection. Otherwise, half-facepiece will be more convenient. Full-face protects all your face but sometimes may make you feel constraint and limit your sights or color perception.
On the other hand, half-face (single or dual cartridge) is lightweight and more comfortable but doesn’t give you full protection other than your nose and mouth.
It depends on the model you choose, but you should have no problem with the above-recommended respirators. They are designed so that you can easily don, doff, and use with other protective equipment.
1. Wash your hands thoroughly to get rid of the remaining paint or chemicals
2. Remove cartridges and filters and disassemble the respirator pieces by pieces as described in the instructions that came with the mask. You need to be careful in this step:
3. Soak the respirator in warm water (no more than 122 Fahrenheit), neutral detergent, and disinfectant soap
4. Rinse again with fresh and warm water
5. Wipe cartridges with cloth, but DO NOT wash them
6. Let the parts air dry
7. Store them at areas away from sunlight, dust, extreme temperature, and chemicals
It can be fun and rewarding to paint over and give your items a new look. But remember that, like other DIY works, spraying paint can give you several health problems.
These effects range from mild symptoms like red eyes to more severe cases of tight chest and damaged a nervous system. However, this can be prevented.
Wearing safety painters mask will reduce the chances of developing illness of these potential hazards. 3M lines and Safety Works are the top choices on the market due to their wide range of protection and availability.
See more: How to Against The Risk of Spray Painting.