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.


Do not 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 do not wear in places with oxygen deficiencies or other immediately dangerous to life or health (IDLH) situations.

How they work

The mask always covers your mouth and nose. It also may cover your eyes. A built-in valve helps you breathe out easily while keeping contaminated air out when you breathe in. Prefilters, filters, and cartridges attach to the outside of the mask. These capture particles, gases, and vapors. Half-mask and full-face respirators with filters, cartridges, or both are worn for tasks such as:

  • Welding

  • Painting

  • Heavy-duty cleaning

  • High-tech manufacturing

How to put them on

Read these steps. Talk to your supervisor about any factors that may prevent a good fit.


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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. Place the respirator in a bag. Store in a cool, dry place. Be sure to replace filters and cartridges per the guidelines of your employer or the manufacturer.