Dust Masks – What do the Letters and Numbers Mean?

Not to long ago, our team went through the EPA Lead-Safe Renovator training program, so we make sure we keep ourselves and your family safe when working in situations where there may be lead paint.  One of the questions that came up as part of this was what do the letters and numbers you see on dust masks actually mean?  The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is who came up with these ratings, and they actually mean something.  We thought we would share some of that wisdom.

First, the letters.  These stand for the type of material/use case the mast is approved for, and go as follows:

  • N: Not oil proof
  • R: Oil resistant (up to 8 hours)
  • P: Oil proof (beyond 8 hours)

Then the numbers represent the percent of airborne particulates filtered out by the mask. (Example: A rating of 95 means that the filter removes 95% of particles from the air).  N95 is typically the mask you see in a home improvement store, and works well for your basic dusty conditions.

So in the case of our Lead-Safe Renovation course?  We use at least N100 rated masks (also sometimes called HEPA masks) for work when lead is involved.  They are a bit more expensive, but worth the safety factor, even when there is not lead sometimes.  After all, your safety is not something you should needlessly mess around with. We know N100 masks can sometimes be challenging to find, which is why we sell them to everyone through Housequarters.

Our team successfully passed the course, and Housequarters is a license Lead-Safe Renovation Contractor in Massachusetts (#LR003551).

Buy N100 Masks

Buy N95 Masks





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