Dust Mask Vs Respirator

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  March 19, 2022
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Since the dust mask and respirator look pretty similar people often do mistakes thinking both of them are similar. But the truth is the purpose of a dust mask and a respirator and their making both are different.

Because of the pandemic, you cannot avoid wearing masks but you should also have basic knowledge about different types of mask, their construction, and purposes so that you can pick up the right mask to get the best service.


The purpose of this article is to make you aware of the basic difference and purpose of a dust mask and a respirator.

Dust Mask Vs Respirator

First of all, the dust masks are not NIOSH (National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health) approved disposable filtering facepieces. They are disposable filtering facepiece that comes with an ear loop on each side, or straps to tie behind the head.

Dust masks are worn to ensure prevent discomfort against non-toxic nuisance dust. For example- you can wear it mowing, gardening, sweeping, and dusting. It only provides one-way protection by capturing large particles from the wearer and preventing them from being spread to the environment.

On the other hand, a respirator is a NIOSH-approved facepiece that is designed to protect against hazardous dust, fumes, vapors, or gases. The N95 mask is one type of respirator that became very popular for protection against COVID-19.

People often do mistakes thinking of the dust mask as the N95 respirator or the N95 respirator as the dust mask. Now the question is how to identify the dust mask and the respirator?

Well, if you find a NIOSH label on the mask or the box then it is a respirator. Also, the word respirator written on the box indicates that it is a NIOS certified respirator. On the other hand, dust masks generally don’t have written any information on them.

Final Words

If you are working in an environment where there is a possibility to expose to hazardous gas or fume then you must wear a respirator. But if you are working in an environment where you are exposed to only nuisance dust then we will discourage you to wear a respirator rather switch to a dust mask.

Also read: these are the health effects of too much dust

I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Tools Doctor, content marketer, and dad. I love trying out new equipment, and together with my team I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with tools & crafting tips.