4 Best Mask for Metal Dust

Whether you are a professional tradesman or a DIY home improvement buff, you undoubtedly know about the risks associated with inhaling noxious fumes from chemicals or when welding. But what about the inhalation of dust? What influence will this have on your health? 

Carpenters and woodworkers know all about sawdust, but many who work with metals, especially those who limit their activities to home improvement projects, or making knives, may not have considered the importance of PPE for protection from metal dust particulates.

Do you do any grinding? Do you need a protective dust mask if you do? Yes, you do. Inhaling metal dust will affect your health.

Best Mask for Metal Dust

Any grinding or deburring that you do will release all sorts of airborne dust from materials that include metals, fiberglass, rubber, and composites. Just imagine all those particles ending up in your lungs. 

We wanted to save you the trouble of having to wade through products, characteristics, and safety necessities, by doing the work for you. So, our team of pros tested several dozen respirators and dust masks to find the best dust masks for metal available today. This is what we found.

Our top choice fell to the 3M Full Face #6800 Reusable Respirator for its outstanding full-face design and efficacy in protecting from airborne contaminants.  

ProductMaterialReusable/DisposableNIOSH approvedSize
3M Full Face #6800 Reusable RespiratorSilicone, thermoplastic elastomerReusableYesS-M-L
3M Half-Face Quick Latch #6501QL Reusable RespiratorRecyclable polyesterReusable YesS-M-L
GVS Elipse P100 #SPR457 Half Mask Reusable RespiratorThermoplastic elastomerReusableYesS/M and M/L
3M Disposable Respirator #8511, Cool Flow Valve, N95 PolymersDisposable YesOne-size-fits-all

The Reviews

Best Full-Face Reusable Respirator

1.) 3M Full Face #6800 Reusable Respirator

3M is a powerhouse in the protective-wear industry and has been for over a century. They produce a large part of the best-selling respirators for tradesmen, chemical workers, laboratories, and more. Wherever there is a hazardous particle, there will probably be a pro wearing a 3M respirator mask.

This mask is one of 3M’s top sellers as it offers full protection for eyes and face in many dangerous environments.

The 6800 respirator is approved by the NIOSH for protection against contaminants that are airborne. Yet, even with so much protection, this mask ensures a clear line of vision and comfort. A generously sized lens guarantees panoramic viewing so your vision, and hence safety, are never at risk.

The mask weighs in at less than two pounds making it popular among professionals required to wear respirator protection. This is a reusable respirator and is compatible with various 3M filters for particulates.

It also features a 3M Cool Flow™ valve that will release humid, hot breath rapidly and prevent heat buildup inside the mask. Thanks to this technology, this respirator can be used without any discomfort for longer periods.

Pros

      • Lightweight
      • Face seal in silicone for durability and comfort
      • Panoramic vision
      • Includes impact protection
      • Cool Flow valve to prevent heat buildup
      • Fog reducing design
      • Provides particulate protection for 10 times the PEL or Permissible Exposure Limit

Cons

      • Not for people who wear glasses
      • Filters sold separately
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Best Half-Face Reusable Respirator

2.) 3M Half-Face Quick Latch #6501QL Reusable Respirator

Another 3M winner, this half-Face reusable respirator mask is fantastic in filthy environments, particularly when exposed to airborne contaminants. This facepiece is durable and stable yet comfortable thanks to a face seal in silicone that is slightly textured. 

What stands out, is the design that integrates a quick latch mechanism for putting on and removing this face mask rapidly. This permits you to remove the respirator without removing your hardhat, face shield, or eye protection when raising or lowering this respirator mask.

This 3M dust respirator mask also offers protection from airborne contaminants to 10 times the PEL or Permissible Exposure Limit in the workplace.

A valve cover design sends exhaled breath and moisture downward to prevent fogging of protective eyewear and the 3M Cool Flow Valve reduces both moisture and heat buildup.

Wear is easy thanks to an adjustable harness with polyester and spandex straps. For use with 3M filters and cartridges.

Pros

      • Quick latch design facilitates wearing and removing
      • Lightweight
      • Face seal in silicone for durability and comfort
      • Cool Flow valve to prevent heat buildup
      • Fog reducing design
      • Provides particulate protection for 10 times the PEL or Permissible Exposure Limit
      • Comfortable, adjustable head harness

Cons

      • Sizing may run small
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Best Half-Face Contour Fit Reusable Respirator

3.) GVS Elipse P100 #SPR457 Half Mask Reusable Respirator

GVS is another powerhouse in the manufacturing of filters and components for safety and industrial filtration systems. With this Elipse respirator, they offer practicality and comfort all in one mask.

The outstanding feature in the design of this respirator is that it fits the contours of the face with a soft style produced in thermoplastic elastomers to adhere to the individual wearer’s face. Available in sizes S/M and M/L. 

The design also permits a wide field of vision and does not interfere with protective safety eyewear. This mask has NIOSH 42 CFR 84 P100 safety approval protecting from dust, metal particles, and fumes. It arrives ready to wear with two filters included.

Pros

      • Intuitive design 
      • Lightweight at 130 gr.
      • Soft for comfort
      • Contour fitting
      • NIOSH safety approved
      • Non-interfering with other PPE
      • Hypoallergenic

Cons

      • Some difficulty with regular eyeglasses
      • Sizing generic
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Best Disposable Respirator for Metal Dust

4.) 3M Disposable Respirator #8511, Cool Flow Valve, N95  

We had to include a disposable respirator for those who like the idea of a clean mask daily. 3M produces this disposable NIOSH-certified N95 respirator mask that offers a whopping 95% filtration efficacy against particulates that are non-oil-based.

As with their reusable masks, they have integrated a 3MCool Flow Valve to reduce heat buildup. An adjustable nose clip provides a custom seal that is secure but reduces pressure points to the face improving comfort. Sold in a 10-pack for convenience. Prevents fog buildup.

Pros

      • N95 respirator
      • NIOSH certified
      • Sold in multipack
      • 3M Cool Valve for heat buildup prevention
      • Adjustable nose clip

Cons

      • Straps are not adjustable
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Dust Mask Vs Respirator

A good quality dust mask that fits the face well, will provide some protection from inhaling grinding dust, however, regardless of how well they fit, they do not create a seal between the mask and your face, so they are not able to offer full protection from either metal dust or chemicals that may be inside or on what you are grinding or deburring. Imagine grinding painted metal!

A full-face respirator or a half-face respirator will provide superior protection if the mask is fitted with the correct filters.

Is There a Specific Respirator for Metal Grinding?

There may not be a specific respirator, but any respirator used for protection from metal dust should have specific characteristics.

The minimum respirator should be a half face respirator that has been outfitted with filters for P2 particulates.

Filters must be fitted correctly to the mask to be effective. Ideally, a clean-shaven face will allow for a better face seal and the respirator mask needs to fit the worker’s face correctly.

Before beginning to grind or debur, a check for respirator fit needs to be conducted for your safety.

Disposable or Reusable?

If you prefer the idea of a disposable mask that can be tossed and easily replace with a clean one, consider the following features when choosing:

→ Is the material used flexible for a satisfactory comfortable fit?

→ Will the mask seal effectively around the nose?

→ Will this disposable mask cause my protective eyewear to fog up?

→ Can you wear it for more work shifts?

→ Is it easy to wear and remove?

→ Does it meet necessary safety requirements?

→ Is it compatible with eyewear, hearing, or head protection?

→ Is the material hypoallergenic?

→  Cost-effectiveness

When selecting a reusable respirator, consider the following factors:

→ Does the respirator negatively affect your peripheral vision?

→ Is it lightweight for prolonged wear?

→ Is the seal produced with soft materials that are hypoallergenic?

→ Does it entrap or release heat and moisture buildup?

→ Does this mask meet required safety standards for your activity?

→ Are straps adjustable

→ Does the mask require assembly?

→ Does it require maintenance?

→ Does it come with a storage case?

→ How often should filters be sustituted?

→ Is this mask cost effective?

Fit Importance

Any respirator, whether full or half-face will only be as effective as the seal that forms between the respirator mask edges and your face.

If the seal is broken for any reason, you are compromised and no longer have the necessary protection because air filled with contaminants can seep in through gaps that form.

Here’s what to keep in mind when selecting and trying on your respirator mask:

1.) Straps for attaching the mask to your head should not be twisted at any point

2.) The respirator will need to be positioned correctly for the shape of your face

3.) A lower strap needs to be positioned below your ears to secure the respirator

4.) If you select a half-face respirator mask, it needs to be compatible with your other PPE including safety eyewear and protective hoods.

Again, a clean-shaven face is a must. Facial hair including beards and stubble can prevent the mask from sealing properly, compromising its effectiveness.

If you select a type that is known as a flat fold respirator, check to see that all the panels are entirely unfolded. Mold the nose clip to your nose and cheeks to create a proper seal. Never underestimate or forgo the importance of a mask’s sealing capability.

How to Check for the Proper Fit

Some countries and employers may require a fit check particularly if you have lost or gained weight or undergone some type of surgery that involves the facial area.

Every single time you wear your respirator mask, you must do a fit check before reaching for your equipment. First off read the manufacturer’s owner instructions thoroughly for detailed information and make sure you understand fully all indications provided.

If you have selected a disposable respirator, check the fit by covering the front of the disposable respirator with both of your hands. If the respirator features:

      • A valve, inhale strongly
      • No valve, exhale strongly

If you have instead opted for a reusable respirator you can cover the mask’s exhalation valve and exhale lightly. Another option is to cover the mask’s filters and inhale lightly.

This should be done to ascertain if any leakage around the respirator edges is present. If so, you need to readjust the fit because the seal is not proper.

If you feel leakage around the nose, you will need to adjust the nose clip. Should you not be able to achieve a good fit with a proper seal, do not proceed to work until this has been accomplished.

Effects on health when you don’t wear dust mask for metal work

Pneumoconiosis is a common lung condition, often referred to as “dusty lung” that is characterized by a buildup of scar tissue in lung linings and leads to chronic health problems.

Particles can also end up in your bloodstream and in vital organs, so a metal dust mask should be the first thing your reach for before you pick up your grinder.

See also: 4 Best Gloves for Sheet Metal Work

Conclusion

Selecting the best mask for metal dust means choosing a good respirator. Whether disposable or reusable, this is the best option for your personal safety when working with metals and subject to metal dust exposure.

We hope our list of best masks for metal dust will help you in your search for great protection.