3M Aura Particulate Respirator

 The most comfortable disposable respirator I've tried

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3M Aura Particulate Respirator



I've been a big fan of 3M disposable particulate respirators ever since I reviewed their model 8210V last year. The reason is the Cool-Flow™ exhalation valve — it's what separates 3M respirators from all other brands.
 
I do have a couple of issues with the 8210V. To get a good seal you depend on the nose clip and a single strap. Adjusting both to achieve an optimal seal can be a bit tricky. And the rubber strap becomes uncomfortable if you wear the mask for long periods of time. Still, it makes for one very good dust mask.
 
However, the new 3M Aura 9211+ mask is a marked improvement over the 8210V.


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Cool-Flow valve reduces heat build-up    
                    
The 9211+ has the same Cool-Flow valve that I've grown to love. The valve is designed to vent the hot, humid air from your mouth out of the mask. I've found that it does a very good job of reducing heat build-up inside the mask, which makes the mask more comfortable to wear for long periods of time. If you wear glasses, as I do, you'll find that it also reduces fogging, as the moist air is vented downward, away from your face.


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A skirt slips over the nose and under the chin            
                    
What's really different with the 9211+ mask is the integration of a skirt over the nose and under the chin. I find that this design produces a more comfortable fit and a much better dust seal.
 
The way to test the fit of your dust mask and check seal efficacy is to place the mask on, adjust the straps — one across the top of the head the other around the neck below the ears — and then, mold the nose clip to the shape of your nose. Cover the whole mask with both hands and inhale sharply. If you feel any air seeping in you'll need to readjust the straps and nose clip. If the mask isn't properly sealed, then you might not as well be using it.


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Wide cushioning nose pad        
                   
The cushioning nose pad is a bit thicker and wider than on the the 8210V, which improves comfort and enhances fit. The adjustable metal noseclip is now located under the fabric.


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Dual, braided headband straps     
                    
Rather than a single rubber strap the 9211+ has two braided headband straps. As on the 8210V they are stapled to the side of the mask. This arrange might see flimsy, but I've never had a strap slip out from under a staple. Unlike rubber, these straps don't dig into the skin when you wear them for long periods of time.


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Folds flat for easy storage            
                    
A neat feature of the 9211+ is that, once you're finished using it, you can fold it flat. This makes the mask easier to store, and much less likely to get damaged. Which means you'll probably get more use out of the mask before throwing it away.


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Super comfortable fit         
                    
The 9211+ is by far, the most comfortable disposable respirator I've tried. The fabric straps increase comfort when you wear the mask for long periods of time, and the skirt design provides, in my view, much better dust protection.
 
By the way, all disposable respirators are meant to be worn only if your face is clean shaven. If you have a beard — even closely trimmed — then the efficiency of the mask will be compromised. If you have facial hair, 3M recommends a a loose fitting, powered air purifying respirator. Still, I regularly see bearded folk using disposable respirators.
 
Also available is the model 9210+, which is identical to the 9211+ except it doesn't have the Cool Valve.
 
Pricing on the 9211+ is about double what you'd pay for the 8210V (or a comparable model), and is currently available as a bulk purchase of 120 units for $277, or $2.31 per unit. More expensive, yes — but more comfortable, particularly for long duration use. A more comfortable mask means that it's more likely to be worn, rather than discarded because of overheating, fogging eyewear, or irritating head straps.


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KEY FEATURES:

  • N95 approved filtering
  • 3M Cool Flow™ Exhalation Valve
  • Dual braided headband for secure fit
  • Contoured nose pad for better fit
  • Chin tab for ease of adjustment
  • Flat fold design for easy storage

COMPANY:3M
MODEL:GT-500-7299-3
PRICE:$277.09 US (120 count)
MADE IN:USA
SOURCE:Safety equipment suppliers nationwide
Carl Duguay, December 2012
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