Apart from proper ventilation, understanding how to choose a respirator or gas mask will go a long way toward protecting your lungs and health. Home and garden projects often involve exposure to harmful chemicals and toxins such as paint fumes, solvents, dust, adhesives, pesticides, and caustic cleaning products.
This is in addition to the annual assault homeowners face from pollen and allergens. So, it’s important to wear protection before you tackle these types of projects. Respirators and gas masks aren’t all the same, there are different kinds to choose from, as well as a rating system for efficiency. At home and around the workshop, a particulate filter (dust mask) or chemical cartridge respirator should be all you’ll need.
Disposable gas masks are particulate filters, the most common type of air-purifying device for home use. Particulate filters can be disposable or reusable with replaceable filters. They cover your nose and mouth and provide protection from airborne particles including dust, mists, liquids, and some fumes but they don’t protect you from gases or vapors.
The most common rating for disposable dust masks is M15, which will filter airborne particles that are not oil-based. M15 covers most woodshop dust, allergens, and airborne diseases. Filters for painting are often rated R95, or higher to handle oil-based particles.