The best N95 carbon filter mask

Medical Supplies & Equipment

A respirator is only good if it fits. Without a good seal around the mask, contaminated air can leak in around the edges instead of passing through the filtering material.

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Which N95 carbon filter masks are best?

When contaminants from the environment get into your lungs, they can do damage. A proper respirator mask can filter out these undesirable elements and help to ensure you’re breathing clean air. 

To be the most effective, a mask must have different types of filtering material. An N95 carbon filter mask not only filters out extremely small particles, it can remove some gases and odors from the air as well. 3M’s Aura Particulate Respirator 9205 is a highly desirable mask because it can block up to 95 percent of particles that are as small as 0.3 microns in diameter, and it was designed to accommodate safety eyewear.

What to know before you buy an N95 carbon filter mask

What does N95 mean?

The N95 designation indicates two ratings. The N means that the mask is rated for use with non-oil-based particles. In short, these are dust particles that are related to materials such as coal, flour, metal, wood and pollen. By comparison, oil-based particles come from products such as solvents or pesticides. The 95 means the mask is capable of blocking 95 percent of those non-oil-based particles that are as small as 0.3 microns.

What does a carbon filter do?

A carbon filter traps gases and odors through adsorption. Unlike absorption, where particles are absorbed into a material, with adsorption, molecules attach to the outer surface, much like a magnet will attract and hold iron filings. Typically, a carbon filter works with the gases found in smoke or ones that are given off by drying paint or cleaning products.

What to look for in a quality N95 carbon filter mask

Adjustable elastic straps

The best N95 carbon filter mask will have adjustable elastic straps that allow the wearer to attach the mask securely and comfortably to the face and head. If the mask isn’t secure, it will allow air to seep in around the edges of the mask instead of traveling through the filtering material.

Soft, metallic nose piece

You will want a mask that has a soft, metallic nose piece that can be gently molded (not bent) around the nose. This helps ensure a better fit, allowing for no gaps around the edge of the mask as it crosses over the bridge of your nose.

Cool air filter

Some of the best N95 carbon filter masks feature a small, one-way valve that allows you to keep the mask clear of the warm, moist air that you exhale. This feature helps keep heat and moisture from building up inside the mask and allows it to be worn for longer periods in hotter, more humid environments.

How much you can expect to spend on an N95 carbon filter mask

N95 carbon filter masks are frequently sold in packs of five or more, with the price per mask ranging anywhere from $1 to $5 each. 

N95 carbon filter mask FAQ

What is the difference between an N95 mask and a KN95 mask?

A. They are very similar. An N95 mask must meet standards that are set in the U.S., while the KN95 mask must meet standards that are set in China. Both are rated to capture 95 percent of particles that are as small as 0.3 microns. However, the China standards require a fit test on humans, while the U.S. standards do not call for this. On the other hand, N95 masks have stricter standards for breathability. Be aware that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 60 percent of KN95 respirators sold in the U.S. are counterfeit.

What is NIOSH?

A. NIOSH stands for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. It is the U.S. agency that is responsible for conducting research and providing testing, approval and certification that assure respirators used in the workplace perform up to standards.

What’s the best N95 carbon filter mask to buy?

Top N95 carbon filter mask

3M Aura Particulate Respirator 9205

3M Aura Particulate Respirator 9205

What you need to know: If you are looking for an N95 mask that can offer a snug fit for a wide range of faces, this is the one you’ll want to get.

What you’ll love: With its curved, low profile, this mask was designed to prevent your eyewear from fogging up.

What you should consider: Some users report that the mask itself has an odor like burnt rubber.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top N95 carbon filter mask for the money

Activated Carbon 6-Layer KN95 Masks 

Activated Carbon 6-Layer KN95 Masks 

What you need to know: This KN95 mask offers the wearer six layers of protection to help ensure your safety.

What you’ll love: The six layers in this affordable face mask help keep undesirable particles from entering your respiratory system. This mask features latex-free straps and an adjustable nose piece with a pad to offer a better fit. The built-in breathing vent helps improve airflow.

What you should consider: Breathing while wearing this mask may be slightly more restrictive when compared to wearing an N95 mask.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

3M Particulate Respirator 8576 with Nuisance Level Acid Gas Relief

3M Particulate Respirator 8576 with Nuisance Level Acid Gas Relief

What you need to know: This N95 mask features a carbon filter that is designed to help provide relief against nuisance levels of acid gases.

What you’ll love: The cool flow exhalation valve in this mask makes it suitable for use in hot or humid environments or for long periods of wear. The highly charged microfibers in this mask help enhance its ability to capture airborne particles. It is best for use when grinding, sanding, sweeping or bagging.

What you should consider: This respirator may be a little large for individuals with smaller faces.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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