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Research >> Survival >> Best N95 Face Mask >> Best N95 Face Mask for Fire and Wildfire Smoke >> Best 3M Respirator for Fire Smoke
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Best 3M Respirator for Fire Smoke

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Wildfires and bushfires can hound us anywhere unexpectedly and without any warning.

These kinds of fires are capable to produce massive destruction and at the same time a large amount of smoke, gases, fumes, and ashes in the atmosphere.

A very good and appropriate respiratory protection is needed to keep you safe from inhaling and being suffocated by all these elements.

The best for fire smoke is 3M’s N95 mask respirator and P2 masks that are different in names but it’s one and the same type of recommended face mask to protect against smoke.

They are the best for fire smoke if you’re looking for a comfortable, easy-to-use, disposable mask to cope with wildfire smoke or everyday air-quality concerns. They will provide outstanding respiratory protection against contaminants.

Why a different name of an N95 mask and a P2 mask if they are the same and they’re just one?

The Difference between the N95 and the P2 classification for Respirator face masks is the N95 is the NIOSH (USA testing requirements.) and the P2 represents the EC (European testing requirements). In practice, these differences have resulted in no impact on the level of protection to the wearer.

What makes fire smoke hazardous to one’s health?

Fire smoke is hazardous and harmful to one’s health since fire decomposes and breaks down materials. It also causes poor ventilation because it reduces the oxygen available.

The temperature of fire that produces burning and smoke produces particles as well as gases and vapors. The gases can often include irritant gases like carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and acrolein.

Smoke is defined in AS/NZS1715:2009 as carbon or soot particles or tarry droplets less than 0.1 micrometers in size and suspended in air, which results from the incomplete combustion of carbonaceous materials such as wood, coal, oil or paper.

Normally, the combustion process that produces smoke also produces gases. 

Why is an N95 mask and respirator great for fire smoke?

An N95 mask is designed to filter fine particles from the air and is mostly used to reduce the transmission of airborne diseases, and on building sites to protect against harmful chemicals.

Bushfire smoke carries PM2.5 particles, which are harmful particles made up of components that can include nitrates, sulfates, organic chemicals, metals, soil or dust particles, according to the NSW Health Department.

N95 masks have the ability to filter out this smoke and provide protection against particulate matter for users.

They are the only masks that come highly recommended and you'll need to know how to fit it right for the best protection. 

When fitting and wearing an N95 mask, it's important to ensure that the fit is secure, as this will help to reduce the inhalation of particulate matter.

These masks do filter out these particles but are only effective if there are a good fit and an air-tight seal around the mouth and nose.

Does an N95 mask and respirator protect against smoke?

Disposable P2/N95 face masks also known as P2/N95 respirators are able to filter out very fine particles from the air when worn correctly. They help reduce exposure to bushfire smoke / poor air quality and will protect you very effectively.

There are 3 Levels of N95 Respirators that offer three different levels of protection, including basic, better and best. Learn more about these different categories and their unique features that will guide you in your selection of the perfect 3M mask for smoke fire.

Basic

The basic level N95 respirators, such as the 3M 8210, feature a simple two-strap design for reliable protection against non-oil-based particles, including some of the toxins present in wildfire smoke. These face masks are made with lightweight materials and can be deployed easily. This mask will meet the requirements of AB 1124.

Better

The better level N95 respirators are the ones that come with a cool flow exhalation valve which is a one-way valve that helps users to exhale easily, promoting air change within the mask. 

This helps the user will stay cooler at all times, but especially in extreme temperatures and humid environments. When exhaling, the user will breathe out through the valve without letting any outside air into the mask.

This respirator is designed for extended periods of time or those users that work in extreme heat or humidity. Just like the basic level, these respirators come with two straps for a secure fit and they’re made with lightweight materials for better breathing comfortable experience.

Best

The best level N95 respirators come with a pair of replaceable filters. This half-face respirator offers a better fit that comes with two adjustable straps that cover more surface areas of the person’s head for a more secure fit. 

While the filters may be the same N95 rated style, the comfort, durability, and fit are superior. This type of mask, such as the 3M 6000, in combination with the 3M 2071 filter is an economical choice that exceeds the minimum standards of AB 1124.

This type of mask features a hard plastic shell and soft cushion against the face. The plastic weighs more than the basic and better-level masks but it includes more secure straps. In this case, you don’t have to worry about the mask falling off or making you feel uncomfortable

There are also higher levels of respirator filtration that are available wherein the toxins are captured in the form of particulates.

Here are some of the top N95 masks and respirators that you can purchase and that would work best for you

N95 Masks

3M Particulate Respirator 8516, N95, with Nuisance Level Acid Gas Relief 80 EA/Case

3M Particulate Respirator 8516, N95, with Nuisance Level Acid Gas Relief 80 EA/Case

This 3M model has a carbon layer that helps in reducing your exposure to the nuisance levels of acid gases. A good feature against smoke and heat is its cool flow exhalation valve that can diminish the build-up of heat inside the mask.

It’s a particulate respirator that’s the perfect choice for situations that involve heat, humidity, and long-time wear. Its other great qualities include  M-Nose clip that can be easily adjusted to provide a custom fit and secure seal, it’s lightweight that makes it comfortable even for longer wear time, has an All filter design hence No spare parts to clean and maintain, and braided headbands and soft inner materials.

Pros:

  • This is a must-have item for anyone in an area that has wildfires 
  • Great value
  • Keep one for each family member in their emergency bag
  • Comfortable
  • Lightweight
  • Has a cool flow that makes breathing easier
  • Offers a safe secure seal
  • Designed for heat and humidity 

Cons:

  • It might tend to be very tight around undereye, cheek area and nose as well 
  • It’s currently sold out

Where to buy:

3M Particulate Respirator 8577, P95, with Nuisance Level Organic Vapor Relief 80 EA/Case

3M Particulate Respirator 8577, P95, with Nuisance Level Organic Vapor Relief 80 EA/Case

Another NIOSH approved 3M mask, that has 95 percent filtration efficiency against certain oil and non-oil based particles. It also has a carbon layer to reduce your exposure to nuisance levels of organic vapors.

Equipped too with the 3M Cool Flow Exhalation Valve that reduces the heat build-up inside the respirator. Other 3M features like braided headbands and soft inner material that provides comfort,  Advanced Electret Media that’s designed for ease of breathing, and an adjustable M nose clip for a secure fit.

This mask is spacious and durable.

Pros:

  • It’s easily adjustable with a metal strip to fit snug around the top of the nose
  • It  does its job filtering out fine dust, and even seems to filter out odors
  • Fairly easy to put on and use
  • It fits well and is comfortable
  • Good quality
  • Also filters out a lot of exhaust smells from gas
  • Good mask for use with vapors 

Cons:

  • Others find the straps are too short to be comfortable

Where to buy:

3M Aura Particulate Disposable Respirator 9211+ with Cool Flow Valve, N95

Please click on the above link for an an-in-depth review of this mask.

Let’s go to some top of the line reusable 3M respirators

Reusable Respirators

3M Rugged Comfort Quick Latch Half Facepiece Reusable Respirator 6502QL/49490, Medium, 10 EA/Case

3M Rugged Comfort Quick Latch Half Facepiece Reusable Respirator 6502QL/49490, Medium, 10 EA/Case

This multi-purpose respirator comes with a proprietary quick latch mechanism for it to be easy to put on and take off with one hand when outside the contaminated work zone.

The adjustable head harness assembly features a three-size adjustable head cradle for a personalized fit and it has a Silicone face seal that is soft, yet firm face seal for comfort, durability, and stability.

The unique valve design will give you an easier breathing comfort.

Pros:

  • The straps can be set once to fit and with the quick latch you no longer need to re-adjust or tighten the straps every time
  • It works with all standard screw-on 3M cartridges and filters
  • The quick latch mechanism is a great way to quickly remove the respirator 
  • One of the best all-around respirator 
  • This respirator does its job to protect you very well against harmful airborne pollutants
  • Great for smaller faces

Cons:

  • It's rather uncomfortable on the face in the beginning but it gets better as you wear it

Where to buy:

3M Half Facepiece Disposable Respirator Assembly 5303, Organic Vapor/Acid Gas, Large 12 EA/Case

3M Half Facepiece Disposable Respirator Assembly 5303, Organic Vapor/Acid Gas, Large 12 EA/Case

Another NIOSH approved respirator against certain organic vapors and acid gases. Use in a variety of applications, including pharmaceutical, petrochemical, utilities, aluminum reduction, chemical manufacturing, laboratories, and pulp and paper.

It’s lightweight and well-balanced design enhances comfort and convenience while wearing it.

It’s a disposable model that helps reduce maintenance issues for your greater ease.

Pros:

  • This respirator works great
  • It amazingly blocks the smoke inhaling
  • It has a good price for the quality
  • You Can't smell anything in this respirator.
  • Fumes can't penetrate it
  • It is adjustable and does not interfere with the line of vision
  • This mask is very comfortable
  • Easy on and off
  • Works well for safe breathing

Cons:

  • Just be aware that the filters cannot be replaced. But unless used frequently this thing should last a while

Where to buy:

3M Half Facepiece Reusable Respirator 6300/07026(AAD) Large 24 EA/Case

3M Half Facepiece Reusable Respirator 6300/07026(AAD) Large 24 EA/Case

This is a very comfortable respirator that is Soft with a lightweight facepiece which is easy to adjust the head straps for a customized fit.

It’s durable and reusable since it can be disassembled, cleaned, and reused. It even includes a reclosable storage bag.

It will greatly help to reduce exposure to particulates and a wide variety of gases and vapors when used with approved cartridges and filters. Its Bayonet connection is compatible with all 3M bayonet-style cartridges and filters.

It’s a NIOSH respirator that’s approved for negative pressure air-purifying and for its supplied air dual airline applications.

Pros:

  • Comfortable and affordable respirator
  • You can change its filter
  • Super value respirator that performs above expectations
  • The straps and the nose piece are all a comfortable fit
  • Easy to adjust
  • Great product, great fit, and snug seal around the face 
  • Lightweight and sturdy mask
  • Serious protection at a reasonable price

Cons:

  • The pressure on the nose bridge can be sometimes bothering

Where to buy:

3M Rugged Comfort Quick Latch Half Facepiece Reusable Respirator 6503QL/49492, Large, 10 EA/Case

3M Rugged Comfort Quick Latch Half Facepiece Reusable Respirator 6503QL/49492, Large, 10 EA/Case

Its quick latch design offers an easy, one-hand touch drop-down mechanism for putting the facepiece on and off while moving in and out of contaminated areas. It has an adjustable head harness assembly that promotes a comfortable fit with three sizes of the adjustable head cradle.  It comes too with a long-lasting polyester and spandex straps.

It has very remarkable features are the 3M signature proprietary 3M Cool Flow Valve that is designed for easy exhalation to help keep the user more comfortable and a resilient silicone face seal that provides comfort, durability, and stability with a soft but firm seal.

This respirator is very durable and it keeps its shape even high heat environments.

It’s compatible with most of the 3M’s cartridges and filters.

Pros:

  • Easy breathing and no sweating
  • The best mask for filtering the air
  • You can breathe normally
  • Easy to put on and adjust and it has a very good seal all around
  • The price is reasonable
  • It will prevent a lot of dangerous particles from entering your lungs.
  • It's very comfortable and fits securely. 
  • The silicone conforms to the face and you won’t feel like being strangled by cords or masks 
  • The cords are adjustable
  • It is also surprisingly airy
  • Good respirator overall

Cons:

  • It has a very strong chemical smell initially but it fades over time

Where to buy:

After Thoughts

We really need to have a 3M mask respirator all the time with all the wildfire and bushfire smoke continuing to destruct our environment.

Superior protection is needed when we are exposed to these dangers and if there’s a threat to the quality of the air we can breathe in these hazardous levels smoke fire.

In times like this, make sure you're buying the right face mask and be always prepared when a smoke fire arises in your area. 

It wouldn’t hurt to be always ready especially in this time of climate change that can ignite a bushfire because of the extreme heat and conditions some places are experiencing.


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