Selecting Welding Respirators

Assess the Risk Levels

An overview of metals, welding processes, and respirator selection

  • All welding fumes contains gas and/or particles. The type of pollution is partially determined by the material you are welding, how it is finished or cleaned and also by the type of welding electrode being used. Consult professional health expertise to identify the hazards levels against country safety standards. Occupational Exposure Limits (OELs) are given in each individual country’s national safety requirements. Your certified Industrial Hygienist can use 3M™ EVM Environmental Monitors to measure airborne contaminants in real-time, or 3M™ Organic Vapor Monitors to determine personal exposure levels.

European standards

The European standard for a complete powered air filtering device incorporating a face helmet or visor is EN 12941. There is no separate classification for particle filters (P) in the standard EN 12941 as the particle filter is part of the system classification. Standard EN 12941 defines three classes of performance (TH1, TH2 and TH3). The numbers define the level of performance (inward leakage) and the pull strength of the breathing tubes and couplings within the classification. Inward leakage for classification TH1 is maximum 10%, for TH2 maximum 2% and for TH3 maximum 0.2%.
Gas filters have letters and colour codes that indicate which gases the filter provides protection against, as defined by the standard EN 12941. For example: “A” for organic, “B” for inorganic, and “E” for acid gases. For powered air filtering respirators, the capacity of a gas filter is determined by testing the unit at its airflow rate. The gas filter’s numbers indicate its capacity: “1” for low capacity, “2” for medium capacity, or “3” for high capacity. For example, one of the gas filters available for the 3M™ Adflo™ Respirator is classified as A1B1E1.

Respiratory protection devices with supplied air line breathing apparatus is in scope of EN 14594*. The apparatus is not self-contained and the air line supply must be air of breathable quality meeting the requirements in EN 12021.

Information about direction laws, limit values etc are to be found in the publications of the respective authorities

General Guide for Respiratory Protection

The following is a general outline to the type of 3M™ respirators that may be appropriate for your welding applications. The overview looks at the metals to be joined, welding processes, and ventilation conditions. It then lists the types of respiratory protection that your Industrial Hygienist may recommend as determined by their hazard assessments.
P = Particle filtration via disposable respirator, reusable respirator, or powered air respirator with a high efficiency particulate filter (P) installed.
P + A B E = Particle and gas filtration via powered air respirator with both a high efficiency particulate filter (P) and a A1B1E1 (or A2) filter installed.

S= Supplied air via regulator and filtration unit.

Step 3

Continue to step 3 for a general outline of respiratory protection for your welding applications.