YHS P2 Dust Masks

At the recent wood show, I found my recent comments about dust masks may need some additions.  I have previously disregarded disposable masks because of their lack of comfort, and cost, but I came across YHS at the show, and after trying a couple of their masks over the weekend, (and being surprised at their price) there is certainly a place for them in a workshop when working with materials that require certified protection (such as MDF, and other materials that produce airborne particles below 3 micron).

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Cost:

I haven’t shopped around much (at all – I keep falling for the “Lowest Price Guarantee” trick) for disposable dust masks, and at the show I came across the YHS masks (Your Health and Safety) which were being sold for $1 each for P2 level of protection (or $2 for those with a built-in exhaust filter).  As much as this will slowly add up over time, that is still 1/5th the price I have seen similar masks being sold in common outlets.  Their P2 filters were going for $10 for a box of 10 without an exhalation valve. ($20 for 10 with). The equivalent box (different brand etc of course – no price matching possible here!) was $46 in the Green Giant. (Prices were their show specials, not sure their normal retail pricing).

Comfort:

In the past, I have used variations of the Cup shape mask (you know the one – looks like a round dish, and is the common shape of nuisance masks).  What I tried in the shed over the weekend was the flat-fold type, which come individually wrapped (and in the case of the box I was trying, have an exhalation port, which is good for preventing safety glasses fog-up). It felt remarkably comfortable and form fitting, with P2 level of protection, and an exhaust valve to prevent fogging.  They may be disposable, but are significantly cheaper than the disposable masks of equivalent rating that I have used in the past.

Flat Fold DM2000

Flat Fold DM2000

When needing a high level of protection, such as what I was doing on the weekend, working with MDF, I found the DM2000 (flat-fold mask) to actually be a very comfortable mask, much more-so than the rubber mask with removable filters I have been using for that sort of work in the past, or the cup shape disposable masks I have had previously.

YHS P2 Dust Masks

YHS P2 Dust Masks

The company operates out of North Ringwood in Victoria – definitely worth considering if you need masks with P2 protection.

On that point, what is P2?

P2 is the highest particulate classification level available for disposable masks under AS/NZS1716. As I understand it, the P2 rating is determined by using a sodium chloride aerosol, with a size range of 0.02 micron to 2 micron, with a mass median diameter of 0.3-0.6 micron. The P2 rating requiring a minimum of 94% efficiency / 6% penetration.  P1 masks, which are typically around the same price only require 80% efficiency and 20% penetration. They filter down to around 1 micron.  (cf 0.3 micron for P2) Not sure why you’d bother with P1 – the same price as, the same ease of breathing, and much poorer filtration – Europe and the US have pretty much dropped it, and in the US the P2 meets N95 (equivalent to AS/NZS1716), and is their “entry point” mask.

P1 masks are generally for mechanically generated particles, P2 for thermally generated ones (and obviously will therefore also be perfectly suited to mechanically generated ones, but with the added filtration of much smaller particles.  You can also get P2 masks with an active carbon layer, but you are unlikely to need that in a workshop (unless it is the size of a broom cupboard….)

(BTW, don’t Google P2 and Micron, all you get are pages and pages about the old Pentium 2 Micron from Dell!

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