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Its All In The Mask: Respiratory Protection For High Risk Environments

Its All In The Mask: Respiratory Protection For High Risk Environments

Posted by Matt Piggin & Nikki Michaels on 29th Sep 2021

When should you use an air-fed respirator?

Keeping yourself safe from harmful chemicals, dusts, gases, paints, and solvents — either in the air or on your skin — is one of the cardinal rules of DIY projects (including spray painting and woodworking) and of industrial and agricultural environments.

There’s a wide variety of PPE and RPE (Respiratory Protective Equipment) options out there, ranging from simple dust masks to full-body HAZMAT suits — and in this month’s blog, we’re landing somewhere in the middle. Let’s talk about air-fed respirators.

What is an air-fed respirator?

Featuring full visibility through clear and comfortable face visors or hoods, air-fed or powered-air respirators actively supply clean, fresh, pressurised air to the user. In addition to purifying the air, this pressure provides a cooling sensation within the hood, significantly reducing fogging and resulting in a better and more pleasant user experience.

The two main types of these respirators are powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs) and supplied-air respirators (SARs). They offer different levels of protection, and you should choose the most suitable option based on your intended use.

Powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs)

PAPRs use a battery-powered unit to supply filtered air at optimal pressure through an attached mask. Ideal for use with facial hair, they’re loose-fitting (and therefore don’t require fit testing) — and they effectively protect against the likes of dust, gas, and vapour when equipped with the right filter.

PAPRs are available in a variety of head coverings, including welding helmets, nylon hoods, grinding and sanding masks, bump caps, and hardhats. They can be used in a wide range of applications but aren’t suitable for isocyanates or similar high-risk environments.

The Powercap Active and Optrel Clearmaxx are excellent choices if you’re looking for a PAPR.

View the full range of PAPRs here

Supplied-air respirators (SARs)

SARs offer face, eye, head, hearing, and respiratory protection for hazardous or poorly ventilated environments. These kits source the air from an independent air compressor located outside the hazard area, sending it through a hose and via a series of filters that attaches to your respirator.

This is the ultimate form of protection and can be used even in the most demanding situations, including spraying isocyanates and dealing with asbestos. Top-of-the-line options like the AMX Mistral offer comfort, protection, quality, and durability in one convenient package.

When do you need an air-fed respirator?

It’s a good idea to use an air-fed respirator whenever you’re working in an area with compromised air quality or poor ventilation. This includes industrial and agricultural environments, as well as situations where you’re in close contact with solvents and paints, which can cause adverse health reactions ranging from headache and dizziness to respiratory problems and collapse.

If you’re working with isocyanate paints (widely used in automotive repairs and in spray-on polyurethane products and protective coatings for commercial, industrial, and retail applications), an air-fed respirator is non-negotiable in order to protect your skin and respiratory system.

Essentially, if you’re working in a situation where you’re coming into contact with substances or toxins that might be hazardous to your health, an air-fed respirator is a safety essential.


We highly recommend using an air-fed respirator for all spray painting jobs. The AMX Mistral is an excellent option, but please feel free to email matt@millin.co.nz with any questions or for assistance choosing a different product.