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The wearing of protective masks is essential when the engaged work is likely to release dust, vapors, gases and other toxic products... To protect itself, it is possible to use disposable disposable models or reusable models adapted to every situation. Still, you have to know how to recognize them, choose them and wear them!

Protective masks

Handicraft safely: the protective mask: particles


1 Harness
2 Breathing valve
3 Removable filter cartridge

Half-mask filtering against particles (disposable)

Half-mask filtering against particles (disposable)

Half-mask with removable cartridges

Half-mask with removable cartridges

full mask

Full mask

Dust masks

FFP mask

The most common masks
Covering the chin, nose and mouth, FFP (Facial Particle Filtering) half masks are made of felt and paper. Protecting from dust, smoke and particulate fog, they are the most widespread in DIY superstores.

Foldable gusset mask

Foldable with bellows
Generally in the shape of a shell, the paper masks, light and comfortable, also exist in foldable version. They have a larger filter surface than the hulls and adapt perfectly to different morphologies.

Mask with flapper

With flapper
The user is no longer in direct contact with the filtering part thanks to the valve. This one also avoids the condensation which makes the mask permeable and unpleasant to wear.

Understand the acronyms of masks

Acronyms to understand
The term FFP is followed by the level of filtration (number of 1 to 3 depending on efficiency) and abbreviations NR, R and D... NR (non-reusable) means that the use is limited to one working day, R (reusable ) that the mask is usable more than one day and D indicates that it is effective at clogging solid aerosols.

Dust and particles: three levels of filtration

The filtration capacity of the particles is specified by the letters FFP for the anti-particle masks and P for the cartridges. These letters are followed by a number from 1 to 3, depending on their increasing performance:

  • FFP1 and P1
    particles filtered: shale, ferrous metals, cotton, kaolin, sulfur Efficiency: minimum 80% of solid and / or non-toxic liquid particles in concentration up to 4.5 times the VME *.
  • FFP2 and P2
    particles filtered : resins, polyester, wood (except beech and oak), nickel, manganese, copper, mineral fibers, oil mists and welding fumes. Efficacy: minimum 94% of solid particles and / or irritating liquids, of low to medium toxicity, in concentration up to 12 times the VME *.
  • FFP3 and P3
    particles filteredlead, beech and oak, asbestos in concentration at 1 fiber / cm3 over one hour, beryllium, arsenic, cadmium, silica, etc. Effectiveness: at least 99% of solid and / or noxious liquid particles in concentration up to 50 times the VME * and up to 200 times for the complete P3 masks.
* The VME is the Average Exposure and Concentration Value below which individuals can be exposed for 8 hours without risk to their health.

Anti-gas masks

Anti-gas mask

A neat seal
The filter masks are composed of a silicone or non-allergenic elastomer part that is placed on the face, and cartridges that engage on bayonets on each side of the mask. This one has in its center a valve which facilitates the expiration. The set is reusable, with the exception of cartridges that change...

filters in anti gas masks

Integrated or reported filters
The filter cartridges are either integrated into the mask (thus indémontables) or interchangeable. They obviously protect particles, but especially gases and vapors. Their performances are attested by a color code according to whether they filter the dust, the gases or the vapors of toxic products.

Anti-gas cartridge

Anti-gas cartridges
Anti-gas filters are made of activated carbon that allows the chemical retention of gases. Each molecule is captured and stored in the coal. The filter should be changed when gas odor is noticeable. If the filter is "combined", it also protects particles with a paper filter layer.

Anti-gas and anti-dust mask

The dustproof option
Cartridges are not always designed to filter particles. It is sometimes possible to add a paper filter to the cartridge. A hood then comes to imprison him. This solution is quite economical especially if you work in an environment that releases more particles than gas.

Gases and vapors: four types of filters

Filters in an anti-gas mask

There are more than 400,000 gaseous chemical compounds. About 98% of these products are grouped into four major families, corresponding to four classes of gas filters A, B, E, K, accompanied by four colors to be identified quickly on the cartridges.

  • Brown: class A filter
    Filtration of organic gases and vapors at boiling point <65° C (toluene, benzene, xylene, styrene, turpentine, cyclohexane, trichlorethylene, etc.)
  • Gray: Class B filter
    Filtration of inorganic gases and vapors, except CO (sulphide dioxide, chlorine, hydrogen sulphide, hydrogen cyanide, hydrochloric gas, etc.)
  • Yellow: class E filter
    Filtration of acid gases (nitric, formic, propionic acid, etc.)
  • Green: class K filter
    Filtration of ammonia, its derivatives and organic amines (methylamine, ethylamine, diethylamine, etc.)

In addition, the combined filters are supplemented by a particle filter (P) white color.
The efficiency level of each of these filters is specified by a number, ranging from 1 to 3.
  • Level 1: low filtration capacity (pollutant concentration less than 0.1%).
  • Level 2: average filtration capacity (concentration of the pollutant between 0.1 and 0.5%).
  • Level 3: high filtration capacity (pollutant concentration between 0.5 and 1%).

The use of masks

Wearing a half mask

Half masks are held by an elastic band that goes behind the neck and another above the ears.
Then adjust the nose clip until the mask fits snugly.

Wear a cartridge mask

Cartridge masks are easy to position.
After applying the mask on the face, simply slide the upper harness behind the head and crochet the low straps behind the neck.

Wear a full mask

The complete mask fully protects the face perfectly waterproof.
It is equipped with a panoramic visor that facilitates vision.
It is reusable like all cartridge masks.

DLU on a mask

Deadline for use on cartridges and half-masks. Beyond that, they lose their effectiveness.
Fortunately, the duration of use is often two or three years.

To know the pictograms on the packaging of the masks

Pictograms sometimes allow to simplify the choice: some models are designed for painting, others protect welding fumes. Note that masks and used filters are to be dumped.

Masks and prices

Price of protective masks

There are as many prices as there are types of masks and filtration levels...

  • FFP antiparticle half masks are the cheapest. The prices vary between 2 and 10 € the mask.
  • The half-masks with integrated cartridges cost between 18 and 40 €, according to the comfort of use...
  • Half-masks with cartridges are often delivered naked. We must add the cost of the cartridges, sold between 7 and 20 €.
  • Complete masks are the most expensive: intended for intensive work in risky environments, prices range from 80 to more than 100 €, excluding cartridges.


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