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Half-Mask and Full-Face Respirators

Respirators that cover the nose and mouth are called half-mask respirators. Those that cover the face, including the eyes, are called full-face respirators. Both types use any combination of prefilters, filters, and cartridges. The type of filter or cartridge needed depends on the hazard.

Woman putting on half-mask respirator.
Place the mask over your face. Put the lower strap in position first, then the upper strap.
Woman tightening straps on half-mask respirator.
Adjust the straps to ensure a good fit and a tight seal.

Woman testing fit of half-mask respirator.
Do required fit checks.
Man wearing respirator with face shield.
Full-face respirator.


Don't wear a half-mask or full-face respirator if you may be exposed to gases and vapors that your cartridge can't protect you against. Also don't wear in places with oxygen deficiencies or other situations that are immediately dangerous to life or health (IDLH).

How to care for them

Wash respirators in warm water with a mild soap after taking out the filters and cartridges. Or follow instructions from your employer or the manufacturer. Rinse in water. Then dry with a lint-free cloth or let it air-dry. Put the respirator in a bag. Store in a cool, dry place. Replace filters and cartridges as directed by your employer or the manufacturer.

Online Medical Reviewer: Diane Horowitz MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Wanda Taylor RN PhD
Date Last Reviewed: 2/1/2020
© 2000-2021 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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