Top Air Purifying Respirator Reviews
3 Top Air Purifying Respirator Reviews
Respirators, in general, are respiratory protection PPE which have become popular after the COVID-19 pandemic. Various types of respirators are designed & used for varied purposes. In this article, we will be specifically discussing air purifying respirators, also known as APRs.
If you’re curious, check out our article on the difference between face masks & respirators.
FAQ - Which is the most famous APR?
The most popular APR is the N95 respirator (a type of FFR). Well, it is the courtesy of the COVID-19 pandemic.
What are Air Purifying Respirators?
APRs are widely used when one needs to protect themselves from dangerous contaminants or a combination of contaminants. These contaminants can be pathogens, vapors, fumes, gases, droplets, dirt particles, sawdust, and other solid particles. These contaminants are trapped using a combination of filters & cartridges. It is vital to understand that their role is to purify the air by trapping the contaminants. They don’t have a provision for supplying oxygen, so should be avoided in oxygen-deficient surroundings.
There are four types of air purifying respirators, which are donned based on the condition & types of contaminants in the surroundings.
Filtering Facepiece Respirator (FFR) -
FFRs are disposable single-use respirators that cover one’s nose & mouth completely. They are widely used when one needs to tackle contaminants like dust, pathogens, sand particles, fumes, and droplets. They became popular during the pandemic.
Based on their oil resistance, FFR is identified from a series of N, P, and R rated by the government agency NIOSH. N series respirators can not resist oil, while P series respirators are oil-proof. The R series respirators are completely oil-resistant. The minimum efficiency of these respirators is represented in percentages by numbers 95, 99, and 100. The most widely used are the ones with an efficiency of 95 because of their comfort. N95 respirator means the respirator which is not oil-resistant and provides at least 95% filtering efficiency.
Review of FFR -
FFRs are the most popular APRs. So, the FFR review has been a combination of varied opinions & experiences. Moreover, one needs to consider the different brands which produce FFRs. Every brand has its pros & cons. But, in the FFR review, we will consider the general points irrespective of the brand. Firstly, FFR has a great comfort level, provided that it has been selected after fit testing.
All the NIOSH-approved respirators provide safety against contaminants. Though the respirators with a minimum of 99% & 99.97% efficiencies have a better filtration capacity, respirators with 95% efficiency are considered more comfortable due to the minimum air resistance. The ‘R’ series FFR is rarely used. Mostly ‘N’ & ‘P” series of FFR are widely used. Respirators that market themselves as breathable provide comfort, especially for people with respiratory ailments.
KN95 respirators are also available in the market, which are different from the N95 respirators, with many similarities as well. For example, when you consider a KN95 respirator, they are not NIOSH-approved. There are other differences, such as the straps of the KN95 respirator that can be placed behind one’s ear that holds the respirator. Whereas, the NIOSH-approved N95 respirators will always have a couple of straps. One strap holds from behind the head, and another helps to hold around the head.
If you want to know more about KN95 respirators, check out our blog on the differences between KN95 & N95 respirators.
Pro tip - Always check for the number of filters and, importantly material of the filters before buying.
You can check out the top three comfortable respirators - Zovator breathable respirator, The Mask Lab’s most breathable N95 respirator, and 3M Aura N95 respirator. If you are specifically looking for anti-pollution respirators (with exhalation valve), then 3M Particulate Respirator 8211, 3M Respirator 8511, Honeywell N95 respirators, and MAGID N95 Respirator.
FAQ - What is the difference between a half (facepiece) and a full (facepiece) respirator?
Half (facepiece) respirator covers only the nose & mouth. While the full (facepiece) respirator covers the entire face (even eyes).
Half (Reusable) Facepiece Respirator & Full (Reusable) Facepiece Respirator -
Half & full facepiece respirators are elastomerically reusable and come with replaceable filters or cartridges. They are used for protection against contaminants like gases, vapors, dust particles, and mist. Full facepiece respirators provide a better face seal and additional support to the eyes.
Review of Half (Reusable) Facepiece Respirator & Full (Reusable) Facepiece Respirator -
Most users face difficulty with the replacement of the filters, especially with the fitting aspect. Moreover, many users have felt that the filters make the respirator bulky, and at times not very comfortable. Due to this, the respirators often get their straps damaged, a primary issue noted by the users.
Valves are another weakling in the respirator, which may get damaged with time. Reputed manufacturers like 3M provide a well-designed & lightweight respirator. The major issue with other companies is the build quality. Of course, this is reflected in the pricing as well.
Pro tip -
Always buy the half (reusable) facepiece respirator or full (reusable) facepiece respirator only after a fit test.
Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR)
Powered Air Purifying Respirators (PAPR) have reusable components and come with replaceable filters or cartridges like facepiece respirators. These are battery-powered respirators with a blower that guides air through the filters or cartridges. It increases the filtering efficiency and enhances the performance. PAPRs are used for protection against contaminants like pathogens, gasses, vapors, dust particles, fumes, smoke, and mist. PAPRs also provide eye protection. These air purifying respirators can be donned in two types. One is loose-fitted & another is tight-fitted. The difference between the two is clear from the naming itself. Apart from it, loose-fitted ones may be donned with a beard & mustache without any fit testing. While tight-fitted ones mandatorily require a fit test.
Review of Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR) -
PAPRs have been noted as quite bulky due to the battery & filters which are present in them. While a few manufacturers like 3M have tackled it quite well, other brands still haven’t found a solution for the same. Moreover, the straps or belt which help hold the respirator have been a concern in the PAPR. Often, they get damaged or make the user feel uncomfortable. Apart from this, another downside has been the battery. Most users have faced battery troubles like a dead battery, a battery that doesn’t last long, or a battery that doesn’t work even after a full charge.
PAPRs are the best line of defense against contaminants. They are highly rated by experts for their protection against various contaminants. They are also considered very comfortable as they can work even with a loose fit. Unlike the FFR, which causes discomfort to the nose, especially the bridge, PAPR provides additional eye protection without any discomfort whatsoever. PAPRs are rated highly for their performance, comfort, ease of donning, and design.
Interested ones can check out the dedicated review of the 3M Aura N95 respirator.
Air purifying respirators were reputed even before the pandemic, though the COVID times boosted their popularity. N95 respirators, a type of FFR are widely used in industries as well as anti-pollution respirators. A general inference from the user reviews of air purifying respirators is that if selected properly after a fit test, they are the most comfortable ones. They are breathable, and one doesn’t feel that the respirator is attached to one’s mouth.
Based on the brand that manufactures the respirator, the build quality & design varies though the performance more or less remains the same. It is because the performance is measured and certified by NIOSH. This article has compiled the top user reviews & experiences so that one gets the overall idea of how these APRs have worked out.
Stay Healthy! Stay Safe!