How to Select the Right Respirator

How to Select the Right Respirator

Which style respirator suits your application best?

  • Disposable vs. reusable vs. powered vs. supplied air respirators

    The following is an overview of the four general types of 3M™ Welding Respirators. In addition to your application’s specific filtration requirements, your selection process may include factors such as equipment style/configuration, personal preference/comfort, and maintenance considerations.

  • Other Worker Health & Safety Resources

    Welding Safety Centre
    Respiratory Hazards
    Assess the risk levels


1. Are you looking for welding respirators designed to help make breathing easier?
2. Are you trying to keep your welders cooler and more comfortable, even in hot, humid conditions?
3. Do you need respiratory systems that are designed from their beginning to be fully integrated with eye, face, head and hearing protection options?
4. Do you need to accommodate users with facial hair?


  • Powered Air Respirator

    Powered Air Respirator

    • APF of up to 500 (inward leakage according to TH3).
    • Can be used specifically for high efficient particle filtration or for the filtration of both particulates and organic, inorganic and acid gases and vapours, depending on filter selection.
    • Cannot be used to protect against substances with poor warning properties (taste/smell).
    • Four welding helmet configurations to pick from.
    • Designed to provide a constant nominal airflow rate of either 170 lpm or 200 lpm (based on user settings).
    • The respirator’s slim turbo design allows highly mobile use.

    3M™ Adflo™ Powered Air Respirator

  • Supplied Air Regulator

    Supplied Air Regulator

    • APF of 200 (3B).
    • Can be used to protect against substances with poor warning properties (taste/smell).
    • Four welding helmet configurations to pick from.
    • Belt-mounted regulator with user control over airflow: from 170 lpm to 305 lpm.
    • Requires compressed air, an air filtration unit, and appropriate air supply lines.

    3M™ Versaflo™ Supplied Air Regulators

  • Reusable respirators for welding

    Reusable respirators for welding

    • APFs of either 10 or 50, depending on model.
    • All provide protection against solid and liquid particles.
    • Specific products for organic vapour / inorganic vapours + acid gas / ammonia.
    • We recommend the flat particle filters 2128 or 2138 in combination with the 6500 or 7500 series half masks for typical welding applications. Fits well in combination with the 3M™ Speedglas™ Welding Helmet Series 9100.

    3M™ Reusable Respirators for Welding

  • Disposable respirators

    Disposable respirators

    • APF of 10.
    • For moderate levels of fine dust particles; oil- and water-based mists; metal fume; and ozone (10 x WEL).
    • Lightweight.
    • No maintenance — disposable.
    • Fits under virtually any welding helmet.

    3M™ Disposable Respirators for Welding

To learn more on how to select appropriate equipment, visit our product overview of Welding Protection

FAQ Welding Fumes - Recommendations

  • Which respirator do I need when welding stainless steel?
    When welding stainless steel with MIG or MMA, the welding fumes often contains particles of nickel and chromium, both three and six worth depending on method. A powered air respirator with particle filter offers you excellent protection in this application. TIG welding does not usually emit much welding fume but can create large quantities of ozone gas: read more under point when does ozone form?. Plasma cutting and plasma welding give rise to high temperatures, which can emit damaging oxides of nitrogen: read more under point what are nitrogen gases?.
  • Although welding fumes from normal steel is not one of the more hazardous types, it is far from good for your health. Among other things, it contains particles of iron oxide, which can cause siderosis (chronic inflammation of the lungs). When welding with MIG/MAG or stick, there are heavy fume emissions, meaning that both a respirator and good ventilation in the workplace are necessary. When welding ordinary steel, a powered air respirator with particle filter is recommended.
  • When welding surface-treated material, a number of hazardous pollutants can be released. When welding galvanised steel, zinc oxide particles are released. These can cause zinc ague, also known as fume fever. If you weld painted material you should be especially careful, as many paints can give off very hazardous air pollutants.
  • When welding with MIG and TIG, the noble gases argon and helium are used as shielding gases. Neither argon nor helium is considered hazardous, but they can displace oxygen in unventilated areas. In such cases, a supplied air respirator is required. When welding with MAG, carbon dioxide, or a mixture of carbon dioxide and a noble gas, is used as a shielding gas. Since parts of the shielding gas can be converted into carbon monoxide when the gas reaches the air, large quantities of carbon monoxide can form around the welding arc. Carbon monoxide cannot be filtered away. If the ventilation is bad, the oxygen level must be monitored and a supplied air respirator used. Alloyed electrodes are common when welding with MAG. The alloys often contain manganese or silicates. This means that large quantities of manganese oxide and silicates are diffused into the surrounding air when you are welding. A powered air respirator with particle filter usually offers sufficient protection against alloy particles.
  • When welding aluminium not only are particles of aluminium oxide produced but ozone gas is formed by the action of the UV radiation from the arc breaking down molecular oxygen. Ozone is also produced when welding stainless steel with TIG. Eventually ozone will be converted back to oxygen, a process that is speeded up when the ozone comes into contact with solid surfaces. Ozone cannot be filtered from the atmosphere but relies on being converted back to oxygen. Activated carbon of any sort is effective at decomposing ozone. Using a gas filter together with a particle filter will decompose ozone efficiently.
  • Nitrogen dioxide and nitric oxide are examples of nitrogen gases that are formed when you weld with high amperage creating high temperatures. Nitrous gases are formed by a reaction in the air between nitrogen and oxygen and are hazardous to inhale in high concentrations, e.g. when welding in confined, poorly ventilated areas. It is recommended that a supplied air respirator is used in such cases.
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