All about dust masks

A paper or fabric hemisphere or cup about the size of your closed fist. An elastic strip or headband is fastened to opposite points on the rim of the hemisphere. A thin, finger-length strip of shiny metal may be glued parallel to the rim. To fit the cup over your face, bend the metal strip to fit your nose inside.

Found among sanding and painting tools. Sold by paint stores, home centers, and hardware stores or tool hire shops. The stiffness of the mask distinguishes it from hospital masks, which are soft. Dust masks are disposable.

When worn over the mouth and nose, the dust mask helps the worker avoid inhaling harmful airborne particles. Usually worn during such dust-producing activities as sanding wood, paint, or drywall compound. Regular dust masks are not effective against fumes and vapors, such as paint solvents and thinners, nor against disease-causing microbes.

When pressed inside a funnel, most dust masks will filter dissolved particles from liquids.

The material is sufficiently porous to transmit air but, since the pores are smaller than most dust motes, not dust. To be effective, the rim of the mask should make a tight seal around the wearer’s mouth and nose (not easily accomplished if the user has a beard).

Cartridge-style masks, which resemble military gas masks, can filter harmful fumes and vapors. Hospitalstyle face masks are effective against airborne dust.

How to Use:

1. Choose a new dust mask whose packaging suggests it is appropriate for the dust you wish to avoid.
2. Fit the dust mask over your mouth and nose, with the elastic strip passing around your head. If there is a little metal strip, press it to a nice fit on the bridge of your nose.
3. Breathe normally through the mask while engaged in a dust-producing job. When done, remove and discard the mask.
Tool-Kit Minimum:

Disposable dust masks are cheap insurance—always keep a package in your toolbox.