Best Respirators for Different Uses
I'm bewildered by the number of types of respirators at the home center. What type of respirator should I get for working with MDF, wood, treated lumber and finishing?
Any double-strap, NIOSH-approved dust respirator will protect your lungs from wood dust generated by sanding or sawing. But, steer clear of those cheap, single strap "comfort" or "nuisance" masks: they're only intended for filtering out larger dust particles from sweeping or yard work. Finishing is a different can of worms altogether. Here, you're dealing with airborne mists, gases and vapors. Those contaminants are much smaller than wood particles. Wear a canister respirator for spraying finishes or when you are using strong strippers and solvents. The canisters suitable for "multipurpose" use will give you the broadest range of protection — they contain both a pre-filter and charcoal. Read the labels on respirator packaging carefully. Manufacturers are very explicit about what each type of respirator is intended to do.
This article originally appeared in the Woodworker's Journal eZine.
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Copyright; 2010 Woodworker's Journal
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