When your job requires the use of a respirator, your employer provides the right one for the job, the correct cartridges for the application, and detailed instructions for its use. But what if you do construction on the side or you enjoy DIY home and garden projects on the weekend? Do you need a respirator or a dust mask? Do you know how to select the best one for your application?

First things first. Do you need a respirator? If you anticipate being exposed to harmful chemicals, airborne particles and/or oil vapors or gases, then yes, you should wear a respirator. You can purchase masks at a big box home store or your local hardware store. They are relatively inexpensive — and definitely worth the price!

Particulate masks and respirators protect your lungs from damage caused by exposure to a range of substances and allergens you may encounter during your home improvement or gardening project. Use protection when:

  1. Dusting, sanding, sweeping and vacuuming
  2. Working with fiberglass insulation
  3. Working with cement
  4. Handling asbestos
  5. Performing demolition work
  6. Painting (oil or latex), especially if using a sprayer
  7. Removing or remediating mold
  8. Mowing grass and gardening, especially if applying a pesticide

Now that you know you need to wear a respirator, it’s time to select the correct product. As you can see in the accompanying infographic, different types of respirators and the various cartridges are applicable to a limited number of uses. Each product offers a specified amount of protection, and each cartridge type is designed to filter out certain types of contaminants. Be sure to check carefully that the products you’re considering purchasing offer the right protection for your particular job.

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