As we all know, welding produces gases and fumes that can harm human health and cause critical illnesses. Filler metals, coatings, the type of work to do, contaminants, base metals, the rods, and the lack of natural ventilation determine the amount of gases and fumes a welder inhales. Welding respirators simply reduce that exposure just like all the other safety equipment you wear.
Respiratory protection and ventilation can help protect welders from exposure to various the health risks. Disposable masks are ideal for simple quick welds. NIOSH filter masks are highly rated for efficiency. They offer better protection from metal fumes, lead abatement, oil free mists and particular radioactive material.
Respirators vary in complexity and features to meet welders’ unique needs for protection. For example, half mask respirators offer safety and comfort. Some designs can even fit beneath your welding helmet. A couple of our recommended models integrate into the welding helmet. This increases portability and optimal comfort.
Here are 7 of the top welding respirators we review:
Jackson Safety Airmax Elite
Miller Electric LPR-100
3M Speedglas 9100 MP Fresh-Air III
3M Powerflow 6900PF
3M Half Facepiece Reusable Respiratory 6100
3M Rugged Comfort Quick Latch 6501QL
3M Full Facepiece Reusable Respirator 6700
The Jackson Safety Airmax Elite PAPR with BH3 Air Headpiece
It delivers optical clarity and a large area for viewing through its built-in Powered Air Purifying Respirator.
The auto darkening filter is based on Balder technology to improve the preciseness of welding and reduce eye fatigue.
The flame-retardant facing is designed to offer you protection from welding sparks. It produces loud, vibrating signals to alert you whenever the filter or battery needs replacement.
Additionally, you are able to check the battery charge visual status and filter clogging level through the blower unit display.
The NIOSH approved filter comes with three layers and supports HE filtration.
The pre-filter traps coarse particles to protect the main filter from getting damaged, hence prolonging its lifespan.
The spark arrester safeguards the main filter from welding splatter and sparks that can easily cause it to malfunction.
The Jackson Safety Airmax Elite also features a large ADF viewing area for optical view clarity from all angles. Use the external knob to choose a suitable viewing shades ranging from 6 to 13.
This superior welding helmet also doubles as a welding PAPR to make sure that you can work at optimal performance while breathing in clean air.
The lithium-ion battery is lightweight and has a lifetime of up to 8 hours. Check the smart charger indicator to know when the battery is fully charged. That would help you avoid overcharging your welding respirator.
The Miller Electric LPR-100 ML00895 Half Mask Welding Respirator
The patented filter media optimizes efficiency despite humidity levels in the filter, and thus prolonging the lifespan of the filter.
Wrap-around spark guard protectors prevent debris and sparks from getting into the filter.
The filters for this respirator resist oil and removes airborne particulates such as metal fumes, gases, dust and mists.
Its four-point head strap is customizable to your unique fittings. The strap is cushioned for added comfort.
The welding respirator offers protection from fumes produced by all kinds of metals such as copper, manganese, zinc oxide, lead, stainless steel, iron oxide, beryllium, nickel and cadmium, among others.
The respirator mask is made from high-grade materials for non-allergenic, odor-free and silicone and latex free use.
The mask is ergonomic to reduce dead air space, keeping you cool and comfortable while welding.
Its slim design ensures the mask can fit comfortably beneath your welding helmet without impairing your vision. The large non-return exhaust valve makes breathing as easy as possible.
The 3M Speedglas 9100 MP Fresh-Air III Supplied Air System
It’s usable in many welding environments require high demand for protection such as mines, power plants, offshore rigs, ships, skyscrapers, and windmills.
The multi-protection welding respirator offers safety for your face, eyes, respiratory system, hearing and head.
Designed for ease-of use, the versatile welding gear delivers high performance and comfort. It has a 25 APF Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) protection rating.
The air supplied respiratory system features a breathing tube, belt, V-300 air-regulating valve and ADF rated helmet assembly.
It offers wide peripheral vision, overhead protection and premium optical function and quality.
The belt mountable valve is lightweight and allows airflow to be set at a comfortable level. It only regulates airflow, but doesn’t cool or warm it.
The 3M Powerflow 6900PF: Face-Mounted Powered Air Purifying Respirator
It comes with a filter that it uses to deliver at least 4 cfm during performance.
This 3M unit is a face shield that satisfies requirements for the ANSI Z87.1-2003 standard.
The respirator uses a highly efficient filter particulate (the only filter approved for its use) and a face-mounting to deliver high performance.
This welding respirator also comes with a motor blowing unit, a flow meter, medium-sized 6000 Full Facepiece Series, a battery pack and a 6800DIN unit for added functionality. That is quite a package!
The battery pack powers the PAPRs unit. This is responsible for allowing the cartridge or filter to offer solid respiratory protection.
Based on the specific motorized system chosen, you can mount the blower unit on the face, waist or head.
The Powerflow Face-Mounted PAPR 6900PF is similar to the PAPR mounted on the face. It comes with all the features PAPR masks provide such as compatibility with glasses and increased comfort for you.
Apart from offering protection for your respiratory system, it improves the productivity of workers.
With this mask, there is no need to use a motorized blower unit (often worn at the waist). This welding respirator is economical, compact, well-balanced, lightweight and ideal for asbestos, lead and other harmful metals.
The 3M Half Facepiece Reusable Respiratory 6100/07024 (AAD), Respiratory Protection
Designed for use in different environments, this respirator offers protection against various gases, particulates and vapors.
This NIOSH-approved respirator is for use with specific approved filters and cartridges will protect you from harmful vapors, gases and fumes.
The 3M Particulate Cartridges or Filters work together with the dual airline system to offer optimal protection.
Choose from small, medium and large sizes to fit your specific size or your welders. According to NIOSH approvals, the respirator is usable with 3M filters 2000, 7000, 2200 or 5000 series.
It comes with a reclosable storage bag and parts for the head harness are readily available for easy replacement.
It protects from harmful gaseous substances up to 10 ti in concentration.
The 3M Rugged Comfort Quick Latch Half Facepiece Reusable Respirator 6501QL/49488
The commercial quick latch design is based on a one-hand touch drop down working mechanism for easy use. It allows you to easily wear the facepiece as you move into a contaminated area and take it off as you exit.
Best of all, you don’t have to remove the head straps.
Made from soft flexible silicone, the resilient face mask is firm and stable yet comfortable for prolonged use.
The 3M Cool Flow valve lowers humidity and heat levels for easy breathing. With the exhalation valve cover, your exhaled vapor and breath goes downwards to minimize face shield fogging. That leaves you with clear vision at all times.
The half facepiece low profile design provides a wide viewing area. It is also compatible with grinding and welding shields. After all, who want to get a respirator for each task they need to do.
The 3M Full Facepiece Reusable Respirator 6700/54145, Respiratory Protection
Choose between air supplied and air-purifying modes of operation. The silicone face mask improves durability, comfort and slows for easy cleaning.
The center adapter ensures that all your exhaled vapor and breath flows downwards. This features minimizes your viewing surface from fogging over.
With the mask, you can breathe easy because the 3M Cool Flow Valve offers comfort and dry cooling.
Its design is well-balanced and lightweight for portable use across your working environment.
Why You Should Use a Respirator
Filler metals and heat are used in welding. The welding process is applied in construction, manufacturing, maintenance and other industries. Its wide application makes it a major Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) concern. Base materials, filler metal, gases and coatings used in welding often emit harmful fume and gas particulates.
Welding fumes are hazardous depending on their concentration and composition levels. The fumes and gases can harm the lungs, nasal passages, and the entire respiratory system. They can eventually cause cancer and death of the affected welder.
What Welding Fumes and Gases are there?
Welding fumes usually contain hexavalent chromium and zinc, the most common contaminant in welding environments. The former metal oxide comes from stainless steel metals and fillers.
Steel with galvanized coatings also release fumes into the environment when welded. On the other hand, gases and vapors contain nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, gaseous fluoride, ozone and phosgene.
None of that sounds good does it?
Types of Respirators
Single Strap Dust Mask
These dust masks are only for protection from dust, but not harmful particulates in welding environments. They do not typically include NIOSH approval and can only offer comfort in environments with allergens or pollen.
Approved Filtering Face Pieces
The dust masks offer protection from welding fumes, mists and dust, among other hazardous particulates produced in welding environments. However, they’re not to protect you from vapors and gases. Additionally, one should not use these for lead, asbestos, or more harmful welding fumes.
Half Mask Respirator
Half mask or half face respirators commonly use with filters or cartridges. As such, they provide excellent protection from harmful particulates and gases. Make sure to replace the filters or cartridges from time to time for optimal performance.
Full Face Respirator
Unlike half face respirators, full face respirators offer and better protection. They protect against vapors, dust, gases and welding fumes. They come with face shield to ensure that no contaminants and irritants get to your eyes and face. The respirators are compatible with NIOSH compatible filters and cartridges that you should often replace for optimal performance.
Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR)
PAPR respirators are loose fitting. They ensure you can breathe comfortably. The fans most often use battery-power; they attract air to flow through the filters, circulating it into your hood or helmet. All types of welders can use these masks, even those with long beards.
However, keep in mind, the filters and cartridges must be compatible with the contaminants you encounter. They also require frequent replacements for maximum performance.
Fully Supplied Air Respirator
The respirator is ideal for application in environments that are immediately dangerous to life and health (IDLH). They’re also handy in areas with insufficient oxygen levels. The masks come with air tanks for added reliability.
Types of Filters
These types of filters are able to trap solid welding fume particles. They’re oil resistant and often used in welding environment because the resulting fumes are easy to filter. 100 class filters are for use with cadmium or lead contaminants. These filters require frequent replacement if damaged or soiled.
Gas and Vapor Cartridges
Cartridges contain activated carbon often found in charcoal to capture gases and vapors that particulate filters can’t capture. Acid gas, organic vapor and acid gas/organic vapor are cartridges used in welding environments. Contaminant concentration and type determine the lifespan of a cartridge.
Unlike particulate filters, cartridges don’t clog, but saturate for easy contaminants flow. Just like particulate filters, they should have NIOSH approval for use in protection against harmful welding vapor and gases.
What to Look for in a Welding Respirator
Various factors influence the right respirator for any given application area or environment. Some factors to consider include your work environment, size and fit, and comfort, filter and reusability.
Welding respirators are designed for application in different environments ranging from manufacturing to construction industries. Choose a respirator designed for specific use in your industry for optimal performance.
Size and Fit, and Comfort
Respirators come in varied sizes to meet people’s unique sizes. With the correct size, you will have the correct fit. Most of them also include some sort of cushioning for comfort. Therefore, determine your specific needs for a respirator such as comfortable use. This will help you pick the best respirator for use under your welding helmet
Different filters have been made and approved for use with specific welding respirators. So, choose a filter that’s not just functional and compatible with your mask, but also built for durability. Make sure it includes NOISH approval for use with your mask.
Do you want a respirator you can reuse if need be, especially if working on a tight budget? Opt for reusable welding respirators? They’re usually the most cost-effective on the market. Reusable respirators under welding helmets offer great comfort for prolonged use.
Conclusion on the Top Welding Respirators
Just like all your other safety equipment like welding helmets, jackets, gloves and such, the best welding respirators protect you from harmful particulates that are in the air in welding environments. Whether you’re new to such an environment or have been working in one for years, the need to protect your health and safety goes without saying. As such, you won’t just protect yourself from the harmful substances, but also likely deadly illnesses such as cancer.