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Respirators 101 - SAFE use, proper storage, and maintenance


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read the SPRAY SAFE! thread stickied at the top of this section for safety, this is specifically for respirators.









Seems these are becoming really common to use while writing. They were always kinda clowned while i was coming up, but if you are interesting in saving your nose, throat, lungs, and kidneys i would like to make sure you do it right.


I use a respirator at work almost everyday and need to have training every six months to keep up to date. Ill do my best to keep this strait forward and simple.



Choosing your respirator -

First thing you need to know, a dust mask is not sufficient protection from paint fumes. these are the paper ones you see surgeons and gardeners using. very cheap to buy and not designed for protection against spray paint. they will do you more harm than good by wearing one. the reason you see gardeners using these is because they are designed to keep you from inhaling larger debris like dirt (DUST mask duh). doctors wear them to protect you from them sneezing or coughing on you and in return them from something entering their mouth or nose via your body (blood, fluids). you need the half face style respirator that has replaceable cartridges to protect against fumes. The dust mask filter has too large of gaps in the filter to protect against the TINY paint particles in fumes & you may actually be doing more harm than good by using one while painting. the fumes are inhaled into the mask while you breath and are contained within the mask and you re breath them getting less fresh air than you would by having nothing on your face. for a half face respirator you want to make sure you get the correct size for your face. they come in S,M,L,XL. dont be afraid to ask to try one on in the store before you buy. if the mask doesnt have a clean seal with the contours of your face it is pointless to use. you will be sucking in fumes and they will get trapped in the mask. it also needs to fit correctly because if it is crunching down on the bridge of your nose, or forcing you to clench your jaw, youre not going to want to wear it anyway because its uncomfortable. they sell full face respirators also but these arent for spray painting. the over spray will eventually cover the face shield and you wont be able to see clearly, they get pretty hot when youre wearing one too. i have one for work but only use it when im working over head and dont want shit getting into my eyes. the cartridges you want are 2 piece - pre filter & organic vapor cartridges. you can separate them from the clear plastic cover. replacements cost abourt $15 on Amazon. dont be cheap.















If you decide to use a respirator its important to have a clean shaven face and replace your cartridges often. this means no beards, long side burns, goatee, or 5 oclock shadow. their should be NO hair interfering with the seal between the mask and your face. a mustache or soul patch is fine because they dont break that very important seal and will be entirely inside the face piece. the half face mask will have elastic straps that come below your ears and attach behind your neck and another set that go on top of your hear and rests on the crown of your skull. these are adjustable and replaceable. i recommend replacing them when they start to get discolored from sweat... thats just me though, at the minimum replace them when they lose their elasticity. you need to ensure you have a proper seal every time you use a respirator. put the mask on and tighten the elastic straps so you have a snug fit. put your palm over the exhaust port where your mouth is and exhale. if air escapes you do not have a proper seal. then put both palms over the cartridges on your cheeks and inhale. if air enters the mask you do not have a proper seal. once again, that seal is very important. its is the entire reason you decided to wear one of these.... for your health. this takes just a couple seconds literally. do it every time. if you use a respirator and do not have a proper seal you will see streak of paint around your cheeks, jaw, mouth or nostrils. all that shit is going into your body... no bueno. You want to replace the cartridges every few weeks if you paint FREQUENTLY and OUTDOORS. if you paint in a confined space with limited airflow like tunnels, change them every couple times you paint. DO NOT wait until you smell or taste paint, far too late at that point. dont be cheap and think replacing these so often is a scam, its not. they have a pretty short life span and it makes sense when you think of all the work they are doing. the cartridges can be pricey but remember you decided to do this for your health. dont get cheap now. check amazon




all you need is 2 large ziplock bags and a grocery bag. 12"x12" ziploc size will work. use one for your respirator and one for your cartridges. always store them in separate containers! you need to keep them separate so the carts dont contaminate the inside of your mask. then toss both ziplocs in the grocery bag and call it a day. with the 2 piece style carts you should take them apart and shake out both pieces before storage. keep in a cool dry place. a garage or closet is fine. dont throw it in the fridge or set it next to the heater, other than that youll be fine. thats it, super simple. you dont need to spend a bunch of money on a fancy one with a logo. this is exactly how i do it at work.




remove cartridges and wash your respirator with warm water with MILD detergent & let it air dry before storing in ziploc. this is to keep it clean and to keep the face piece rubber from rotting and cracking. take care to wash the inside where your mouth and nose go. you dont need to this very often maybe a few times a year if you dont really use it a lot. i do it before every use just because i want the interior where my face is to be CLEAN. a lot of heavy breathing & moisture going on in there. you can buy packs of respirator cleaning wipes from 3m to make this much easier and much less of a process.... those are what i use. replace the elastic straps when they lose elasticity. replace any of the gaskets on the inside of the mask where the carts go if any of them are missing or cracked. dont use without them, they are check valves and make the whole system work properly.








here are a bunch of videos from OSHA showing what i just explained




good luck, ill check this thread periodically for questions i can help with

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Good thread.


My brother works in auto paint and shares all kinds of terrifying facts about paint stuff with me.


sort of related: if you touch/use paint thinner with bare hands it is in your bloodstream almost immediately and can be in your urine within 14 seconds.


How do you feel about the dust masks with the coal lining?

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"They were always kinda clowned while i was coming up, but if you are interesting in saving your nose, throat, lungs, and kidneys i would like to make sure you do it right."


God damn, only graffiti writers and rap artists would clown on something that promotes safety and health

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 months later...

I'm getting a respirator but I need advice on which one.. I found a really cheap one but it seems too good to be true...













the last one costs an extra $20 to ship, but I could get other stuff with it...same with the bsci one.


What would you recommend from these or others? I'm in Canada if that helps...

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get the last one. the 3M

if the shipping is an issue you can buy one at home depot



home depot sells cartridges so they will be easy to replace. same with parts i would guess.

a tried and true company



when it comes to your health, dont be cheap!

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