I, as a retired person, generally fall into woodworking, scroll saw, as my past time activity. YES, I know, or should have, that shop dust and wearing some type of masks is important. But they are hot, limit breathing and are a pain. Well as someone with ironical asthma I have now landed in ER and the hospital twice this year. At this point I am still not cleared to be back in the shop.
Well, now I have done a lot of reading on dust masks and respirators. Your first line of defense is to limit your overall exposure to dust. The large type vacuum systems, properly installed and maintained, are a very good start. A clean shop is second and that means a thorough clean up after every session. Also, if your tools have the ability or can be adapted to a vacuum – do so.
Finally, and most important is a good quality dust masks. This is the major decision issue in this whole conversation. There are many on the market, like the white paper ones, and a lot of them do not help very well. The general problems, as reported in literature, is that they do not fit well around the face, they do not provide adequate protection ( as a measured rating), and they do not last very long. Now some of the high are much better and are rated at N95 or N100. This means that they protect you from 95% to 100% of your airborne dust. The next level of masks are the respirators. The are the larger generally rubber masks with one or two filters on them. Some even have a pre filter before the main filter. These fit the face better and provide better sealing around the cheeks and chin. Now I am talking about us clean shaven of face as breads are another issue. These filters on these larger one are replaceable and you should have a good schedule of doing that. Make sure that the one you select is rated for your type of work. That would mean spraying, type of wood and overall environment. All reports say these work very well. The last type are the powered respirators where a small fan blows air through the filter system to provide fresh, and perhaps cooler, air to breath. These two are reported to work very well.
Damage to your lungs can not be fixed. Once done it is done. I am at the stage where I have gone a little to far but still have some ability left to get in the shop and do some work. You can be that I will have my vacs running, my filters on and a good quality dust masks on. I have not chosen which masks I will purchase yet but I have some real good ideas.
My Doctor and my wife have allowed me on more chance to get this right. My health is too important to screw this up.
-- Just learning the craft my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ practiced.