Use these Cool-Flow N95 respirator masks for dusty work

Originally published at: Use these Cool-Flow N95 respirator masks for dusty work | Boing Boing

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It is worth repeating that these will not protect against COVID-19.

It would be useful to provide links to reliable sources that do protect against COVID-19.

I strongly recommend that all who do not already have N95 respirators go to shop dot projectn95 dot org and buy N95 respirators. They are a non-profit and do not make any money off your purchase. They thoroughly vet all sources. In fact at this point, they get nearly all products directly from the manufacturer. I am not affiliated with the organization. They are the only source I know of that you can truly rely on for getting N95 respirators that are not counterfeit. If I were you, I would not trust any other source offering N95 respirators that are not counterfeit or fraudulent. Keep in mind N95 respirators are single-use items. Do not reuse N95 respirators. Please plan your purchase quantity accordingly.

All frontline workers (including medical professionals), I strongly recommend that you go to shop dot projectn95 dot org , register as a frontline worker, and buy as many surgical N95 respirators as you need to avoid respirator reuse and comply with pre-pandemic OSHA and infection control regulations, policies, and standards, including a new surgical N95 respirator per patient.


I keep my mouth shut (for the most part) on the subject of masks in a pandemic context. Ya know, because Reasons. But on this one we are back to where my professional knowledge of respiratory protection does not cross paths with any other important messaging in a potentially awkward manner.

So I can now say, PLEASE do not use masks like this for “dusty work” unless the dust truly is just a bit of plain old dust. If a P95 mask actually for real seals 100% around your face and stays that way as you move around throughout the work. then sure, it could be sufficient for large caliber sawdust. But I believe if will prove very unlikely for that type of mask to remain sealed through a full range of motion. Now consider paints, lacquers, or anything beyond a Sharpie… how much do you really wanna huff?

Sticking with 3M, their 6200 series of half-face respirators is just awesome. Strap systems for half-face masks used to be a sad and frustrating state of affairs, but these days they’re finally reasonable. Once you have the upper and lower pairs set for your skull, it’s a single clasp at the nape of the neck.

But I’m not here to tell you how comfortable a proper half face respirator is; I’m here to tell you that if you are attempting to protect yourself against any of the hazards mentioned above, you need a mask that lets you use P100 cartridges, which you may have noticed is 5 more than P95, which means they are probably better. How much better? Let’s skip past the math and go straight to a reference everybody here will easily understand: P100 cartridges with an organic vapor rating will render almost any common respiratory hazard LITERALLY HOMEOPATHIC if your mask is fully sealed.

I use 60923 or 60924 cartridges and I would imagine most people here would as well. But they do have different chemical coverage combinations in case your risk profile runs a bit more exotic. Neither the masks nor the cartridges are currently restricted for purchase, although they were for at least three months early last year and some retailers may still have their own restrictions. Both the mask and each pair of filters cost around $30, and I get about six months of use from the filters I use as my ‘out and about’ set.


For low profile half mask P100s I can also recommend the “Elipse Low-Profile Dust Respirator” It is strictly a particle mask (I use it for sanding, general housework, and when airbrushing water based acrylics, but no solvents) but it’s really low profile, comfortable, and seals well on my face (I am fit tested).

(Also not a COVID mask due to the vent)


There are still people that think a “real” N95 mask has that “extra filter on the front”.

So many people posting in my area last year about how some store was selling “counterfeit” N95 masks because they didn’t have “that extra filter”.

You know; the Exhaust port.


Seriously? Is THAT what people were going by? I had been wondering how so many people could seem so sure they’d spotted fakes.

It was first the “extra filter” and then later it was “KN95” which meant it was a Chinese knockoff and therefore more worthless than a bandana.

I got so much pushback trying to explain what the “port” was for.


Are hospitals/clinics in the USA still having challenges with PPE supply chains?

Thankfully here in BC there aren’t any BYOPPE hospitals/clinics anymore. Although there are protocols for when to wear a medical examination mask vs a N95. (The exception being full face positive pressure systems in cases where people can’t fit test a mask for reasons. Last I checked they were self supplied.)

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I meant to ask. Have you tried both 6500 and 6200 series masks? My 6500 is getting old and I’m curious if there is any advantage to the 6200.

(I only have the 6500 because it was in stock when I was last shopping…)

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In the USA, hospitals that insist on using only 3M N95 respirators (particularly the 3M 1860) are still having issues with PPE supply chains, which I anticipate will go on for the foreseeable. Hospitals that are willing to use other PPE manufacturers are having no problem obtaining N95 respirators. Most domestic American N95 respirator manufacturers of N95 respirators (other than 3M) are sitting on inventories of 100 of millions of N95 respirators that hospitals refuse to buy because they don’t want to go through fit testing all their employees for a different N95 respirator product or because they refuse to pay slightly higher prices than before the pandemic to protect their patients and employees. It is really sad.

BTW, if you see a 3M N95 respirator without a valve for sale to the general public (especially if it is a 1860), it is nearly guaranteed to be counterfeit. Even if it is authentic, don’t buy it because you are depriving someone who needs it more than you.

In the USA, hospitals/clinics almost universally refuse to allow BYOPPE even if no PPE is available.

I’m familiar with older 6500s. If they are still identical, then I can say that the 6200 has a more robust/flexible outer seal, and that the harness system is greatly improved. However, it has been ten years since I handled a mask other than the 6200s and a 6800 full face that we own.

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Since fit testing should be done annually, and is a quick process, that’s a frustrating place to hear of places saving money…

Conveniently? I don’t fit 1860s so I don’t have to worry about the counterfits :wink:

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It’s worth repeating that you are dead wrong about that.

3M N95 masks, including valved N95s, absolutely DO PROTECT against covid as personal protective equipment. And even with the valve, they protect others from you as source control as well as or better than surgical masks. That’s because the valved exhalation ports are small and much or most of the air still goes out through the filter media rather than through the valve.

NIOSH did a study that confirmed this:

"the maximum particle penetration through the unmitigated FFRs evaluated in this study was 55%, which occurred at 55 lpm, while the maximum penetration for surgical masks was 17%for the filter media and 76% when considering fit…

This phenomenon could make the contribution towards source control provided by FFRs with an exhalation valve more consistent than that provided by surgical masks, which can have openings on the perimeter of the mask that have more variability in surface area than the opening of an exhalation valve."

The study found that covering the valves completely provided even better source control.

People and organizations need to update their understanding of the relative efficacy of cloth masks, surgical masks and valved N95s. Anywhere that accepts surgical masks or cloth masks should also accept valved N95s. (The same does not apply to industrial respirators such as full and half face masks that take cartridges. Those masks have two sets of valves, insuring that all of the exhaled air goes out the unfiltered exhaust port and none of it goes out back through the filter cartridges.) And if valved N95s are not acceptable to them, then they should also prohibit cloth and procedural masks and require tight fitting respirator grade masks.

Other important details:

If you have a beard and/or are not wearing a respirator grade mask such as an N95, FFP2, KF94 or genuine (not counterfeit) KN95 then you aren’t serious about protecting yourself or others from Covid using masks.

Cloth masks are perhaps 50% effective as a source control, depending on the particular mask. That means that if you would infect someone in 10 minutes without a mask, it would take you 20 minutes with a cloth mask. That might be helpful in short encounters, but if you’re working all day indoors that’s not enough protection. An N95 mask filters to a minimum of 95% filtration. That means if it would take you 10 minutes to infect someone without a mask, it would take 200 minutes with the mask. So the quality of the mask matters a lot. As does the fit to avoid bypass around the filter media. There’s not much point in wearing a 95% effective mask if you stick it on top of a brillo pad of a beard that all the air will go through. Even stubble can reduce the quality of the seal of a mask.

All of that being said, I don’t trust Amazon as a source for genuine masks of any kind due to the issues both with counterfeit masks in general, and Amazon’s issues with counterfeits in their inventory, thanks in part to their habit of commingling inventory between sellers. I would trust Lowes before I would trust Amazon. But I also think valved masks are generally more likely to be genuine. I’ve not seen reports of counterfeit valved masks, and while they may exist, the counterfeits are overwhelmingly valveless KN95s and, to a lesser extent, N95s.


They may protect the wearer but they do not protect the patient or those around the wearer if the wearer is COVID+. In addition, they don’t meet other standards needed in a healthcare environment such as flame resistance, biocompatibility, etc.

I hit post too early and have since finished writing my post and updated it with the information and links to back up my point. Valved N95 masks do in fact protect other people as source control masks. NIOSH studied the issue.

The 8511 masks are not made for health care and do not have a splash resistant outer layer. But for the general public, they are excellent masks that do not take health-care rated masks away from front line caregivers.

Also, please note that the masks sold at projectn95 dot org are not even all N95s or respirator grade masks, let alone medical grade N95 masks with a splash resistant layer. Their offerings include civilian grade KN95s (which have ear loops instead of head straps) as well as non-respirators such as procedural masks, which leak more as source control than valved N95s according to NIOSH.


I know absolutely zero about any of this in a medical context, only in an industrial context. That said, the biggest incentive I am aware of not to broaden the range of masks in use is not the cost of annual fit testing, it’s the acquisition/stocking/maintenance of that mask in sufficient quantities and sizes to get adequate distribution everywhere that someone might need to grab one.

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N95 masks do nothing to protect you from spray paint. You need to wear a proper respirator rated for organic vapors, like those listed upthread by other commenters. If you don’t think you need respiratory protection from spray paint, watch someone else do it from a distance on a sunny day. A sphere of paint and propellant chemicals engulfs a 10’ radius around the person. The fact that you can smell the paint through the N95 tells you it ain’t doing anything.

The 3M half-face painting respirators are great. Comfortable to wear, easy to breathe in, and not very expensive. As others said, I strongly recommend them. I wear one painting, grinding, sanding, welding, or anywhere else when fumes are unknown or suspect.


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