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Jabran (J.) Kundi is a seasoned reviewer for Four Best. He has an engineering background from the National University of Science and Technology and studied in Germany for several years. In his free time, when he is not spending his time researching and reviewing some of the best products around, he enjoys speaking German. Guten Tag!

The 4 Best Face Mask Respirators N95, P100 for 2020

January 24, 2020    Health Travel 

Respirator Masks - Avoid Airborne Viruses and Smoke

There are many circumstances where people need extra apparatus to ensure quality breathing. Some of these are unexpected, like wildfires and viral diseases. Others like spraying pesticides, doing woodwork or working in dusty conditions are planned events. No matter what your situation, we've come up with all the info you'll need to make sure you have the right respirator for your needs.

  • OUR TAKE
    PROS
    CONS

  • RUNNER UP

    3M
    Half Facepiece Reusable

    Amazon.com Paid
    OUR TAKE
    • This half facepiece assembly is a comfortable face mask that is washable and reusable. With a P100 rating, it is as good as a respirator can get. The removable filter allows you to easily replace an old filter with a new one.
    PROS
    • P100 rated - 99.97% efficiency.
    • Resistant to oil.
    • Removable filters.
    • Half facepiece design - comfortable.
    • Washable - can be reused after disassembling and washing.
    CONS
    • Some complains about respirators arriving without filters so might need to order filters separately.

  • ALMOST

    3M
    Disposable Particulate Cup

    Amazon.com Paid
    OUR TAKE
    • This disposable cup respirator is another P100 classified respirator from 3M that comes with an adjustable buckle strap and nose-clip ensuring proper fit on your face. What makes it a popular choice for many is its cool flow feature which provides a comfortable breathing experience.
    PROS
    • P100 rated - 99.97% efficieny.
    • Resistant to oil.
    • Cool Flow ensures no heat builds up inside the mask. Perfect for prolonged usage.
    • Adjustable buckle strap for secure seal/fit.
    • Adjustable nose-clip.
    CONS
    • Comes in one size only.
    • The bulges next to the nose may reduce visibility.
    • The wider straps are built for enhanced comfort but may be uncomfortable for those that don't like it touching their skin.

  • ALMOST

    3M
    Half Facepiece Respirator

    Amazon.com Paid
    OUR TAKE
    • Another half facepiece design from 3M and this one comes with 6 pairs of filters as well. It has a P100 rating which enables it to filter with an efficiency of 99.97%. The P rating also means that it blocks oil-based pollutants
    PROS
    • P100 rated - 99.97% efficieny.
    • Resistant to oil.
    • Comes with 6 pairs of filters
    • Reusable.
    • Half facepiece design.
    CONS
    • Might stink before first usage.
    • Might build up moisture inside the mask due to breathing.

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Understanding Respirator Classification

Image Credit: iStock

N95, R95, or P100 - What is the best?

In order to find out which respirator is designed specifically for your needs, you will need to look at its classification rating. Let’s take a look at what these classifications mean.

  • N95 – Filters with 95% efficiency – not oil-resistant
  • N99 – Filters with 99% efficiency – not oil-resistant
  • N100 – Filters with 99.97% efficiency – not oil-resistant
  • R95 – Filters with 95% efficiency – partially oil-resistant
  • P95 – Filters with 95% efficiency – oil-resistant
  • P99 – Filters with 99% efficiency – oil-resistant
  • P100 – Filters with 99.97% efficiency – oil-resistant

The classification is pretty much self explanatory. The resistance to oil refers to the ability to filter aerosol particles that may contain oil. The N series does not offer any protection against such particles while the R series does but only to a limited degree. Only the P series is able to filter oil-containing particles with the given efficiency.

When to Use a Respirator

Image Credit: iStock

Viral Diseases

As we saw with the outbreak of the Coronavirus in China, things can go south pretty quickly when such a virus hits the population. Your breathing leaves the body vulnerable to inhaling substances that cause the virus. Ideally humans would do great if they could somehow stop breathing for a considerable period of time but since that isn’t possible for us, our next best bet is to purify the air that we do inhale. And that’s exactly where these respirators come in.

The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention advises the public to use the N95 classified respirators in case they have to deal with someone who is already affected. Usually you would need to ensure the mask fits well . If you are a member of hospital staff you may have the surgical grade N95 at your disposal in which case it is also very likely that you will already have received training related to its use.

Wildfires

Wildfires are a constant headache for many people in America and those living in California know it all too well. The smoke from the burning trees can be dangerous but when the fire hits man-made properties and structures, things get complicated as all sorts of materials start burning and releasing toxic gases. According to 3M, an N95 or a P100 classified respirator will work well in protecting you against smoke. For those in the direct line of fire, such as the firefighters, even these respirators may not offer 100% protection but for the general public living in relatively safe areas but still experiencing smoke particles in the air, these two respirators will easily do the job.

Image Credit: iStock
Image Credit: iStock

Pesticides

When working on agricultural land, it is worth using a mask when spraying. Oil is a part of many pesticides so having a P classified respirator is necessary here. Even when not necessarily working directly with pesticides and just working on the land harvesting, tilling or sweeping, the mask will come in handy. Dust particles can also cause long-term ill effects, especially to your lungs so using the same mask will always have a positive effect.

Others

If you want to have a respirator available at all times, it is best to buy an N95 and keep it in your safety kit. This type of respirator will protect you from germs, dust, bacteria, pollen, and even the day to day pollution.  It is also a budget-friendly option but that means it isn’t as durable as the others. That shouldn’t be an issue as your safety kit is an emergency solution to give you enough time to arrange a better protection. It is best to choose a reusable face mask with filter cartridges because that enables you to have multiple cartridges with you at all times.

Image Credit: iStock

Important Considerations When Choosing a Respirator

Image Credit: iStock

Material and good fit

It goes without saying that any respirator you use should fit well on your face. Since our bone structure varies from person to person, the material of the respirator plays a vital role in making it fit on our faces. The face-piece that needs to fit on your face is usually made from materials like natural rubber, silicone or neoprene.

Durability

The durability of the respirator comes into play when you are going to use it in extreme conditions or for longer periods of time. If you cannot afford your respirator to stop working, such as when in a fire situation or working with extremely toxic gases, then you need to buy one that is durable. The best bet here is silicon rubber.

Comfort/Time

If you are only going to use your device for a small period of time, such as white working on a spray painting, the comfort may not be that important for you. On the other hand, prolonged usage will almost always bring comfort into the equation. There are many respirators with a Cool Flow feature. This feature ensures the inside of your mask doesn’t get too warm. Remember that breathing through a respirator isn’t natural for humans so no matter how comfortable your mask is, it will probably never replace a mask-free experience.

The Four Best Method

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What We Do . . .

We started Four Best on the premise that a great deal of the information required to properly evaluate a given product is already right in front of your (and our) eyes. In fact there is too much information! A crucial skill necessary to picking the best products is instead the ability to cull through the available information, focusing on what should really drive a purchase decision.

To make those crucial determinations as to what matters and what doesn’t, we begin by thinking through what really matters to us when we use a particular product. We then use the that type of product to further refine the features we care about and that we think you will care about too. Next we search the web, looking to manufacturer’s websites, product specifications, consumer reports, expert blogs, research reports and the like to obtain crucial insights and the facts.

Finally, we distill the results of our research and combine it with our own experiences as consumers, professionals, techies, mothers, fathers, hobbyists, designers, software engineers, attorneys (sorry) and more. Ultimately, this process results in the reviews we present to you. We hope you enjoy!

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