Since I have been enameling a lot lately...I decided it was time I purchased a new respirator/mask. Last time I purchased one was eons ago...but I remembered that there was a specific kind I was suppose to buy. The kind that would not let all of those nasty little silica particles into my lungs!! I do have a super duper actual RESPIRATOR (my kids say it looks like I am coming from a bio-hazard spill area). Mine looks like this, only it's grey in color.
This is not the kind I am going to talk about today. The one I need to replace is a smaller version of the above mask...it's white and a lot more comfortable to wear....and I can take it with me to my enameling meetings and not scare anyone. It looks like this (below)...
Most of the books and websites I have read always refer an enamelist to wear an NIOSH-approved N95, which has a 95% filtration efficiency against solid and
liquid aerosols that do not contain oil. 3M is a great brand however, they tend to be on the expensive side. I just purchased two new N95 NIOSH respirators from my local Big Box hardware store (the smaller ones didn't carry them ) for $8.00, and many websites sell the same respirators,only the 3M brand and they cost MUCH more. For 1 respirator I have seen prices from $10.00 up to $17.00.
When I was researching respirators I ran across a website that contained some information I had not heard before...
Q) Which respirator do I choose if I'm working
around dusts, mists, fumes or agricultural molds?
You can wear an N95 in almost any dust situation. Exceptions: If you are welding
a highly toxic metal that requires a HEPA (high efficiency) respirator, you should
wear an N100 or a P100. Examples of highly toxic metals are lead and cadmium.
OSHA also has certain substances that it has always required a HEPA respirator
for, such as asbestos and lead.
Many enamelist also do some soldering...and some solders contain cadmium...just more chemicals to worry about huh!! With all that said...I am not going to pretend to be an expert in the respirator field...just be wise in what you use. At least use SOMETHING... a lot of my friends don't:-(
Below is another good link for respirator information.