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Sure, you won’t keel over dead instantly if you breathe in some sanding dust or the excess spray paint that doesn’t make its way onto your lawn furniture (or nearby parked car). But wearing a proper respirator can add years to your life. To get the full benefit, you’ll need to do a little research to see what’s in the crap to which you’re exposing yourself, and that’s the point where most people just say “screw it” and plow on, sans protection. There’s another option, though: Pick up a cheap-but-decent model like the one above, offered for $17 from TP Tools.

According to TP, the “SAS respirator offers protection against paint mists (lacquers and enamels), dusts, fumes, mists free of oil, and other particulate and organic vapor hazards.” That’s not everything in the world, but it sounds like it’d catch most of the most common stuff around the shop. TP sells replacement pre-filters (for $5), but they categorize the whole thing as disposable.

Then again, if you’re looking for something more permanent, you’ll probably want to do your research and buy a serious mask with cartridges designed to fully protect you from the toxic stuff you plan to use. At around $25 shipped, I’m thinking about just having one of these in the cabinet on hand.

SAS Bandit Reusable Disposable Dual-Cartridge Respirator [TP Tools]


13 Responses to Own A Cheap-Ass Respirator

  1. Gabriel says:

    I own and use a 3m 6000 series (“disposable”) respirator with organic solvent filter that I use when painting with spray paint and such things. It’s great! I love not having to inhale paint fumes. Much easier to work for longer and harder. And it was cheap. I paid about $25 for it, and a spare set of cartridges.

    There’s no reason to not have and use one. They’re like safety glasses, IMO. Essential.

  2. Steve says:

    I’m going to recommend a respirator from 3M. Although a few dollars more, the replacement filters are readily available.

  3. TL says:

    I’ll second (or third) the 3M recommendation. Lowes and Home Depot both have models that look just like the SAS unit above with replacement filters easily available. At that price range they all work pretty much the same. Mechanical filtration (grabs the particles) before the air passes through an activated charcoal filter (grabs most of the organics). That should be all the average homeowner needs. If you paint cars or build fiberglass boats for a living, it is probably worth it to spend a bit more on pro gear.

  4. Fong says:

    The most expensive part of these respirators is the filters. It’s like the low cost of a printer with expensive replacement cartridges. The body of this one doesn’t look any different than my no so cheap respirator from HomeDepot.

  5. ambush says:

    I use a N-95 dust mask for most things. The other ones are junk.

  6. SuperJdynamite says:

    I’ll fourth the vote of confidence for the 3M “reusable” respirators. I find them much easier to breathe through than the paper-like disposable filters. They have proper exhaust vents so hot, exhaled air doesn’t dwell inside the mask. Also, they fit just fine over my beard.

    If you go to the 3M web site you can find all kinds of specialty filters that remove whatever’s going to ail you.

  7. Jeff Ballard says:

    I agree with everyone here get a proper 3m unit and the proper filter for your task there are literally 100’s of filters.

    I have two different types of filters in my garage and switch between the two depending on what im doing.

    Also the entire 3M line and filters are all available from amazon, and cost very little.

  8. WDS says:

    One thing to keep in mind with respirators is that they don’t work with facial hair. We had a guy come to do respirator fittings for all of the painters at school and he said that his company wouldn’t even allow him to try to fit a respirator on someone with stubble much less a beard, Too many places for fumes to get in. Check your cartridges too, I have had professional painters tell me that the cartridges must be kept in airtight containers when not in use so that they will stay good.

    • SuperJdynamite says:

      I was concerned that after growing a beard I wouldn’t be able to get an air-tight fit with a half-face respirator. I’m able to get a seal with the beard (if I block the intake and inhale I don’t get leakage from the perimeter).

      Success varies from beard to beard, I suppose. I read an article in one of the workdworking magazines (ShopNotes?) in the last year where they covered “beard friendly” respirators and all of them were full-face masks.

  9. Cameron Watt says:

    I personally use a North brand respirator with the back breather setup(to fit under my welding helmet) and whatever cartridges are appropriate for the job at hand; P100 for most of the work I do.

    Painters…Even as a boy, I remember the painters in the village seemed a little touched; enough so that none of us wanted to be painters when we grew up….but I don’t think they wore respirators.

    As for facial hair and respirators, I’ve heard that some pulp mill guard houses keep disposable razors and if you’re going to work in an area that requires carrying an escape respirator then you’ll be required to clean up before being let in.

  10. rick says:

    I had a cheapie respirator… went to buy cartridges, and cant find them anywhere….

    I now have a 3m, they will be around for a long time. North is the other brand i would look at. I am not a “brand” guy, but in order to get the replacement cartridges, it is the way to go.

    I use it to change the cat litter… and the kid’s diapers too…..

  11. Daniel says:

    It’s absolutely necessary to be clean shaven when wearing one… I guess nobody reads the literature that comes with these things.

  12. trythis says:

    OSHA requires a medical evaluation for respirators and N95 masks. Some people apparently cant breathe well enough through a mask and will pass out or something. The school I teach at prevents me from letting my students wear them.

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