Which Is The Best Half Mask Respirator On The UK Market?

A half mask respirator protects you from inhaling dust, harmful particles like silica and mould, and toxic gasses and fumes.

They are important if you work in any environment where you are exposed to any of these things such as painting, sanding, lab work, and mining.

Half mask (or half face) respirators are called so because they only protect your respiratory system.

A half mask respirator does not protect against skin and eye exposure to toxic substances. If you are concerned about that, you need a full mask respirator. Alternatively, combine a half mask respirator with protective safety glasses.

In this buying guide, we recommend the best half mask respirators you can order online. We also explain what features to look for when shopping for a half mask respirator.

Key Considerations When Choosing a Half Mask Respirator

A. Filter Classification

The most important part of a half mask respirator is the filter. That’s what protects you from particles and gases.

The class of filter in the respirator tells you what kind of protection it offers, and what kind of environment you can use it in.

For example, some filters are ideal for sanding, and others are suitable for painting.

There are three primary European classifications for filters used in half and full face respirators.

  • FFP1 – Usually referred to simply as P1, this class of filters provides the lowest level of protection. They are ideal for environments with mechanically generated particulates from actions like hand-sanding, grilling, and cutting. P1 filters keep out 80% of particles smaller than 2 microns.
  • FFP2 – FFP2 or P2 mask respirators provide a medium level of protection against dust and particles. They provide better protection against liquid and solid aerosols, as well as toxic dust generated from mining, metal work and other applications. P2 filters keep out 95% of particles smaller than 0.5 microns. They are comparable to N95 masks.
  • FFP3 – FFP3 or P3 mask respirators provide the highest levels of protection. They can protect against high levels of dust, fumes, and aerosols. P3 filters are effective against hazardous materials like mould, asbestos, and pesticides. They are also the recommended filters for people working in environments with possible bacterial and viral exposure. P3 filters keep out 99.95% of particles smaller than 0.5microns.

If you are buying a half mask respirator for a workplace, your employer should advise you on which class of filter is safe for the work environment.

If you are buying it for personal use, the right filter depends on the kinds and levels of hazards you are exposed to. If you are not sure which mask to get, always go with a P3 mask respirator to be safe.

B. OEL and APF

Next, check whether the manufacturer has provided OEL and APF figures. These will further help you choose the right mask for the work environment.

OEL refers to occupational exposure limit. It’s also called workplace exposure limit or WEL. This is the upper level of allowed concentration of a particular airborne substance. OEL varies by filter class.

P1 masks offer 4 X OEL protection, P2 masks offer 12 X OEL protection, and P3 masks offer 50 X OEL protection.

APF refers to assigned protection factor. It indicates how well the mask protects you. APF 4 means the mask reduces concentration of hazardous substances by four times. As with OEL, APF varies by filter class.

P1 masks have an APF of 4, P2 masks have an APF of 10 and P3 masks have an APF of 20.

C. Fit

Getting a fitting mask respirator is not just about comfort; it’s also about safety. A poorly fitting mask may let some contaminated air through the side, defeating the purpose of the mask.

Mask respirators are sized as S, M and L. Most manufacturers will include a sizing table to help you choose the right size based on your facial dimensions.

If you know the procedure, you can carry out a face fit test to make sure the respirator forms a tight seal. If the mask is for your workplace, your employer will provide a certified fitting professional to do the fit test.

D. Comfort

Getting a good fit is the first step in making sure a half mask respirator is comfortable. Also check that it stays cool; some respirators tend to get uncomfortably hot.

The respirator should also be lightweight, ensuring it feels comfortable even after hours of wearing it.

Also, make sure the respirator does not restrict vision whether you are looking straight ahead or down.

Best Half Mask Respirators: Top 5 Reviews

1. JSP Force 8 Half Mask Respirator

The JSP Force 8 half mask respirator comes fitted with P3 filters that protect your respiratory system from dust, fibers, fumes and liquid aerosols.

Being a P3 filter, the most protective type available, it also protects you from viruses and bacteria.

The JSP Force 8 mask uses special filters that are unique in several ways.

One, they are low profile filters that provide a wide field of vision and allow you to put on additional gear such as a face screen or safety glasses. The design also protects the filter media from moisture damage in wet environments.

The filters are designed such that incoming air flows across the entire surface. This improves filtering performance efficiency, increases filter lifespan, and prevents clogging even when dealing with fine particulates.

But our favourite feature is the press to check face fit test that allows you to check whether the mask has made a tight seal around your nose and mouth. This gives you peace of mind when working in high-risk environments with exposure to germs or toxic gases or solids.

It’s easy to do the test. Put on the mask and press the filters closed to prevent air intake. Then breathe in. No air should come into the mask, and the front of the mask should collapse inwards. That assures you there’s no leakage of contaminated external air.

The JSP Force 8 half mask respirator is available in a medium size. A four-point harness system allows you to adjust the mask to a perfect fit.

Breathing is easy thanks to the advanced exhalation valve that reduces resistance. Users also say they have not experienced any build-up of moisture or heat inside the mask even when they’ve worn it for hours.

What we like about it:

  • Lightweight and comfortable.
  • Adjustable fit.
  • Press to check filters.
  • Highest level of protection.

2. Dräger X-plore® 3300 Chemical Half Mask Respirator

If your work involves chemicals such as painting, lab work, spraying insecticides, pest control, and so on, the Dräger X-plore® 3300 is the best half mask respirator.

It’s equipped with high-level protection combination filters that protect you from a wide range of toxic gasses.

The manufacturer calls them ABEK1 Hg P3 RD filters. They protect you against gasses and vapours from organic and inorganic compounds, sulphur dioxide, hydrogen chloride, ammonia gasses, and mercury vapour among other toxic chemicals.

Since they are P3 filters, they also do an excellent job keeping out fine dust, fibres, and other particles. So you can also use the Dräger X-plore® 3300 for sanding, cutting, drilling and other mechanical jobs.

The filters are easy to attach to the mask. The mask itself comes with an adjustable strap so you can set it snug and comfortable on your face.

Thoughtful features such as equally balanced filters, a lightweight mask design, skin-friendly materials, and minimal breathing resistance make the Dräger X-plore® 3300 comfortable enough for hours of use.

What we like about it:

  • High level of protection against chemicals as well as particles.
  • Comfortable.
  • Adjustable fit.
  • No fogging when you wear safety glasses.

3. Trend STEALTH/SM Half Mask Respirator

The Trend STEALTH is another good choice if you are looking for a half mask respirator with an extra-low profile design.

The compact design of the filters and mask ensure you get a good field of view all-round, and can wear additional protective gear without any obstructions.

The Trend Stealth half mask respirator comes with twin P3 pleated filters. They provide the highest level of protection against small and fine particles like dust, fibres, and silica dust. They are also effective against chemical fumes, making them suitable for agricultural work, pest eradication, and paint jobs.

The wide filter area provides improved filtration and reduced breathing resistance. We like that the exhalation valve is on the underside of the mask, so there’s no risk of fogging up your glasses.

The Trend respirator is easy to put on. Two straps secure it behind your head, and you can adjust the straps to get a perfect seal and fit.

This is a small-medium size mask, so it should fit people with average size, and smaller than average faces. There’s also a medium-large version for those with bigger faces.

What we like about it:

  • Low-profile design.
  • Lightweight and compact.
  • Highest level of protection against fumes and particles.
  • Bottom-facing valve keeps glasses from fogging.

4. 3M Spray Paint Respirator

If you are a painter, the 3M spray paint respirator is the best half mask respirator. The respirator contains twin filters that provide two levels of protection.

One, they offer A1 protection (a type of classification used by 3M). This means they can protect against organic vapours and fumes such as those generated by paint, solvents and cleaning products.

Two, the filters offer P2 protection. That means they protect against medium levels of particles such as dust, and fibres. They also keep out water and oil based aerosols.

The P2 filters also have some major limitations. They will not protect you against very high levels of dust and particles, and they are not suitable for environments with toxic chemical fumes or highly toxic substances like asbestos.

In fact, 3M warns against using the spray paint respirator when working with isocyanate paints, which are more dangerous than other types of paints.

Though a bit heavier than we’d like, the 3M paint respirator is comfortable enough that you can wear it for several hours. The adjustable strap system keeps it snug and secure on your face.

What we like about it:

  • Great for paint jobs.
  • Good level of protection against particles.
  • Adjustable fit.

5. GVS SPR299 Elipse Mask

The GVS SPR299 Elipse mask respirator is great for general use around the house and at work.

It uses twin P3 filters, so it’ll protect you against a wide range of dangers including high levels of particles, as well as chemical fumes and gases.

The GVS SPR299 is effective against all kinds of dust (rock, wool, silica, aluminium, wood etc.). It’ll also keep out asbestos, aerosols, and airborne microbes.

The filters have a lifespan of up to 5 years, and they are replaceable. So you don’t need to buy a new mask when they get worn out; just get replacement filters.

The mask itself is super-light, making it comfortable to wear for long periods. The low-profile filters will not obstruct vision.

The GVS SPR299 is available in two sizes: S-M and M-L. Each size comes with an adjustable strap system to ensure a perfect fit.

What we like about it:

  • Highest level of protection.
  • Long-lasting filters.
  • Lightweight and comfortable.

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