4 Best Dust Mask for Smog and Pollution

With all the dust particles, allergens, smoke, smog, and pollutants in the air, dust masks have become more popular than ever for protection from respiratory ailments.

Depending on where you work and reside, air pollution can be a serious danger to your health. Dust masks are popular because unlike respirators or face masks, they are more lightweight, affordable, and easily acquired.

We asked a group of professionals, homemakers, teachers, and students to test several dozen masks for us and give us feedback on comfort, efficacy, and full-day wear to give you the lowdown on what the market has to offer. Here’s what we found.

Best Dust Mask for Smog and Pollution

Our top overall dust mask for pollution is the 3M Disposable Respirator #8511, Cool Flow Valve, N95. This disposable NIOSH-certified N95 respirator mask guarantees 95% filtration efficacy against particulates that are non-oil-based and is super comfortable if you need to wear it for extended periods.

We also liked two other 3M Dust masks, the 3M Personal Disposable #8210 N95 Dust Mask is really good value for the price and comes in convenient packages o twenty, and the 3M Reusable Facepiece Quick Latch Respirator #6503Q if you prefer to invest in a reusable, comfortable convenient mask.

Dust MaskMaterialFilterType Sizes
3M Disposable Respirator #8511, Cool Flow Valve, N95PolyisopreneN95DisposableOne Size fits most
3M Personal Disposable #8210 N95 Polyisoprene and FoamN95DisposableOne size fits most
Honeywell Dual Layer Face CoverPolyesterReplaceable filter blocks 98% of airborne particlesReusable with filter changeS/M and M/L
3M Reusable Facepiece Quick Latch Respirator #6503QSiliconeCompatible with all 3M bayonet cartridges and filtersReusable3 size adjustable head harness

The Reviews

Best Overall Dust Mask for Smog and Pollution

1.) 3M Disposable Respirator #8511, Cool Flow Valve, N95 

Industry powerhouse 3M has produced this disposable NIOSH-certified N95 respirator mask guaranteeing 95% filtration efficacy against particulates that are non-oil-based.

Many N95 dust masks will filter out 95% of particles, but what we really liked about the 3M Cool Flow Valve N95 Dust Mask #8511 is that it is exceptionally comfortable for long-term wearing. It features a 3MCool Flow Valve and the valve does a good job reducing heat buildup.  

The design also dehumidifies and prevents fog buildup if you wear glasses or sunglasses.  The nose clip is adjustable and provides a secure seal.

Pressure points to the face are reduced as well for optimal comfort. Woven straps complete the mask and are said to be latex-free. 3M sells these dust masks in a convenient 10-pack. 

Pros

      • N95 respirator with 95% filtration of airborne particulates
      • NIOSH rated and certified
      • Sold in a convenient multipack of ten
      • 3M Cool Valve 
      • Adjustable nose clip
      • Anti-fogging

Cons

      • Straps cannot be adjusted
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Best Value Dust Mask for Smog and Pollution 

2.) 3M Personal Disposable #8210 N95 Dust Mask

This 3M respirator also meets NIOSH safety certification standards meaning that it will block 95% of airborne particulates including both various dust types and smoke.

It resembles, to some extent, the 3M 8511 in form and fit. Straps are elastic and latex-free. This dust mask does not have an integrated exhalation valve in its design, meaning war may be a bit warmer and a bit more humid.

It is compatible with eyewear, so eyeglasses and sunglasses can be worn together comfortably. The nose clip is adjustable, so a secure face seal can be obtained. Comfort is guaranteed by nose foam for cushioning. These masks are available for purchase in packages of twenty.

Pros

      • Lightweight
      • Nose foam cushioning
      • Two straps for a secure fit
      • NIOSH certified
      • Eyewear compatible

Cons

      • Straps need to be stretched before wearing
      • Some reports of poor strap quality

  Check Price and Reviews on Amazon


Best Smog and Pollution Dust Mask for Glasses Wearers 

3.) Honeywell Dual Layer Face Cover

Honeywell uses a knit construction of spandex, nylon, and polyester for the outer layer of this reusable dust mask for a stretching action to improve fit. It reduces moisture while the inside layer is a filter that will be changed after every single use.

The innovative nose clip featuring a leather backing will help to keep moisture away from your eyes and glasses by pushing it outward to the front of the mask. The knit construction, which is seamless improves comfort. Both the nose clip and ear loops are adjustable.

An inside hidden pocket holds Honeywell filters that should be changed daily or after every use. The design is contoured for improved breathability. By removing the filter, the mask is washable.

Pros

      • Seamless knit construction
      • Washable
      • Easy filter replacement
      • Earloops and nose clips are adjustable
      • Honeywell filter blocks 98% of airborne particulates
      • Contoured design for improved fit
      • Comes with 8 filters

Cons

      • Somewhat thick
      • A bit expensive
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Best Reusable Dust Mask for Smog and Pollution

4.) 3M Reusable Facepiece Quick Latch Respirator #6503Q

The most attractive aspect of this reusable 3M mask is the latching feature. This mechanism permits you to remove the mask from your face without removing the entire head harness. The quick latch feature is easily operated with one hand.

It requires the use of replaceable filters but does an outstanding job as a dust mask. You can improve filtering by selecting a 3M filter of your choice. The mask design helps to reduce fogging of eyewear that you wear together with the respirator.

The adjustable head harness in polyester and spandex affords a comfortable fit. 3M has included a cool flow valve to allow you to exhale.  This valve prevents inside heat buildup sending exhalation downward.

The silicone face seal keeps out particles laterally and is heat resistant, so it maintains its intended shape even in a hot climate. NIOSH rated this respirator blocks pollutants including chlorine, ammonia, sulfur compounds, and numerous particulates in the environment.

A total of 3 ounces, it is incredibly lightweight for a reusable mask and integrates a positive/negative pressure seal to adjust the mask pressure.

Pros

      • Fog reduction for wear with eyeglasses
      • Replaceable filters
      • Comfortable
      • Heat-resistant
      • Affordable
      • Great face seal

Cons

      • Front piece produced in hard plastic
      • Facepiece a bit stiff to wear
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

What Is a Pollution Dust Mask?

Breathing is necessary and if you are exposed to dust, smoke, or fumes, your health is in danger.

Normally a dust mask takes the form of a pad or material that is held in place covering both nose and mouth with elastic straps.

Some masks will have specific types of filters or valves integrated into their design. A dust mask is not a respirator unless otherwise specified. So, it will not protect you from chemicals, vapors, or gases.

What Does a Dust Mask Do?

The principal reason to wear a dust mask is to protect yourself from inhaling toxic contaminants that are airborne in the form of dust. Contaminants can pose serious hazards to your respiratory health.

A dust mask can impede if not eliminate allergens, and pollutants from entering your lungs thanks to filters. 

These are good protection from household dust, city smog, or when mowing your lawn, gardening, or doing general cleaning.

Thanks to fibers in the material used to produce the mask, they will capture tiny particulates that otherwise would end up in your lungs. 

The Dust Mask or the Respirator?

First off, dust masks are not necessarily NIOSH-approved and should not be confused with N95 respirators. Dust masks are used to filter out dust particles and nothing more, whereas a respirator will provide more protection.

A Dust Mask Buying Guide

Because there are so many dust masks on the market, finding your ideal mask can be a challenge. We’ve put together some factors to help you in your search.

Reason for wearing

This is the factor that will influence your choice more than anything else. What will you use the mask for and what type of safeguard do you need?

If you want a mask for an activity you may want to look for masks with specific filtering qualities, however, if you are looking for a pollution mask, you’ll want a mask that addresses the filtering of airborne particulates.

Filters

The dusk mask filter will indicate how long the mask can be used or if it can be reused. Disposable filters will have a precise time period for use.

Masks with replaceable filters usually will feature the mask body and the filter that can be inserted or removed. The lifespan of these masks will be longer and durability increases.

Common hazards include vapors and airborne particles. Particle filters will block pollen, allergens, dust, mold spores, ad tiny particulates present in the air. They will not filter out gas or vapors.

Vapor filters, on the other hand, may use a charcoal filter to protect you from chemicals, paint, perfume, gases, and other types of odors.

Face Coverage

Masks offer various levels of coverage, full-face or a half-face mask that covers your nose and your mouth. With dust masks, the half-face design is common, especially if you do not require skin or eye protection.

Mask Fit

A contour mask design that adheres comfortably to your face is ideal. The mask should fit securely to your face otherwise it will not provide efficient protection. Foam face seals can make quite a difference in both efficacy and comfort.

Most masks are available in small, medium, or large. If you do not find a good fit for the mask you like, it is better to choose another design. Adjustable nose clips give a better fit. 

Material and Construction

Some dust particle masks are reusable and can be washed either by hand or in a washing machine. Washable masks may not be as effective as disposable masks. 

Safety Ratings

If you choose a dust mask that is NIOSH certified, consider the ratings that identify the type of mask.

All NIOSH ratings use a letter: N, R, or P. 

N will indicate that the dust mask is not resistant to oil, whereas the R signifies that the mask will be somewhat resistant to oil, however it cannot be worn for more than 8 hours in an environment with oil mist exposure. P instead indicates a mask that strongly resists oil.

Other ratings are indicated by numbers. These include 95, 99, and 100, and they indicate filtering efficacy. 95 means that the certified mask will filter 95% of airborne particles. 99 rated masks filter out 99% of airborne particulates, and a 100 mask will filter 99.97% of particles.

Comfort

Dust masks need to be comfortable, or you won’t want to wear them. Adjustable straps, neck straps and skull cradles, soft material, and contour tyles are all designed to increase comfort

Safety and Maintenance Tips

Keep in mind these recommendations for the use of dust masks:

      • If you notice a smell, or you experience irritation of any kind, change the filter or replace the mask.
      • If you experience difficulty breathing, change the mask.
      • Keep your dust mask dry. Disposable dust masks may become ineffective if they become wet.
      • Manufacturer’s recommendations should always be followed for best performance.
      • Do not reuse disposable dust masks.
      • Dispose of masks that show damage or are broken.

See also: Best Dust Masks for Woodworking

Conclusion

If you live or work in a city or area with high levels of pollution, dust masks are a useful tool for limiting your exposure to airborne pollutants and particulates.

Or if you are an allergy sufferer, a dust mask can be extremely useful for work in the garden or seasonal allergies.

Whatever your reason, a dust mask for pollution, smoke, smog, or other, has become essential for the protection of your health.