Investing in new helmet - PAPR or not for professional welding career
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  1. #1
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    Investing in new helmet - PAPR or not for professional welding career

    So I'm ready to take the plunge and invest in a high-end helmet... and I'm looking for input from experienced professional welders about the viability of personal ventilation systems.

    How often do you find yourself needing/using personal ventilation/filtration in your day to day work?

    I am trying to decide between a Speedglas 9100xx and the same model with the PAPR respirator... price difference is about $1,000.

    It's not really a matter of safety, though. To me, you can't put a price on avoiding long-term health issues... it's a matter of practicality... is it really needed? ...or do you find yourself under structure ventilation often enough this would only end up getting in the way.



    Hope that makes sense. The reason I ask is because I almost think PAPR is more suitable for hobbyists or people who don't spend enough hours per week welding that they'd do a lot of their work under a dedicated ventilation system.
    Last edited by Rora; 01-22-2013 at 08:07 AM.

  2. #2
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    Re: Investing in new helmet - PAPR or not for professional welding career

    I can see any number of uses for one of these in industry. Not all jobs lend themselves to a dedicated fixed ventilation system. I can see places especially in ship building and so on where a welder has to go into tight spaces to weld where personal filtration would make the most sense.

    Most hobbyists wouldn't be able to afford a unit like this.
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  3. #3
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    Re: Investing in new helmet - PAPR or not for professional welding career

    Quote Originally Posted by DSW View Post
    I can see any number of uses for one of these in industry. Not all jobs lend themselves to a dedicated fixed ventilation system. I can see places especially in ship building and so on where a welder has to go into tight spaces to weld where personal filtration would make the most sense.

    Most hobbyists wouldn't be able to afford a unit like this.
    Very good points and your advice is much appreciated. Your point about welding in tight spaces has me sold and I will make this investment.

    Thank you very much.

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    Re: Investing in new helmet - PAPR or not for professional welding career

    I picked up a welding table from an old timer welder who made large sculptures and mobiles. IIRC he was in his mid 60's and would still take his kayak to the lake and do a few miles a day. He had been using a forced fresh air helmet for almost his entire career so his lungs are still in great shape. He told me that almost all of his friends who didn't use forced fresh air, respirators or dust masks while welding, painting and other body work were 6 feet under due to lung cancer.

    Good PPE is expensive up front but it will save you a ton over the long term.

    ~Alex

  5. #5
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    Re: Investing in new helmet - PAPR or not for professional welding career

    Quote Originally Posted by Rora View Post

    How often do you find yourself needing/using personal ventilation/filtration in your day to day work?

    I am trying to decide between a Speedglas 9100xx and the same model with the PAPR respirator... price difference is about $1,000.

    It's not really a matter of safety, though. To me, you can't put a price on avoiding long-term health issues... it's a matter of practicality... is it really needed? ...or do you find yourself under structure ventilation often enough this would only end up getting in the way.


    I am looking into speedglass adflo. I find it amazing how people can breath in nasty stuff year after year and either do not care or cant be bothered to lessen its effect. What is even harder to believe is the junk respirators that a company will buy for its employees to wear.

    http://store.cyberweld.com/3mwereasw...FUWo4Aod2UgAkA

    These are pretty nice but I have never had to wear one for more than a few hours at a time until recently and its not so nice to wear one all day.

  6. #6
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    Re: Investing in new helmet - PAPR or not for professional welding career

    Quote Originally Posted by mikecwik View Post
    I am looking into speedglass adflo. I find it amazing how people can breath in nasty stuff year after year and either do not care or cant be bothered to lessen its effect. What is even harder to believe is the junk respirators that a company will buy for its employees to wear.

    http://store.cyberweld.com/3mwereasw...FUWo4Aod2UgAkA

    These are pretty nice but I have never had to wear one for more than a few hours at a time until recently and its not so nice to wear one all day.
    The nice thing about the adflo is that it creates positive pressure in your helmet which means exhaled CO2 or welding fumes will get displaced with cool, filtered oxygen away from the source of fumes.

    Unfortunately I don't think many employers would pay for something like this which is why I'm making the investment myself even though I am only an apprentice. I agree with you, though--over the course of hours and hours, and years, there's no contest with your health... the risk factor with that much exposure is very real.

  7. #7
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    Re: Investing in new helmet - PAPR or not for professional welding career

    As an alternative to Speedglas, a company called Balder out of Slovenia makes the BH3 Air helmet, with positive pressure and various chemical filtration cartidges. Balder was recently purchased by Kimberly Clark, who also recently purchased Jackson Safety. Now, the BH3 is offered in the US under the Jackson label, but I'm not sure of the air supplied and respirator versions are.

    Comparing the Balder with the Speedglas, I can see some advantages to the Balder in terms of optical quality (1/1/1/1 Balder versus 1/1/1/2 Speedglas as of 2013), but I haven't been able to find any pricing on the BH3 Air, which so far Kimberly Clark is not importing.

    ESAB used to have a personal respirator system on their New Tech line which has the same ADF as Balder, but I found out from ESAB this morning that they dropped the air system version.

    Anyway, if you're spending $1,500.00 on a helmet system, I thought you might be interested in the alternatives. I'm trying to learn about them myself.
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  8. #8
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    Re: Investing in new helmet - PAPR or not for professional welding career

    Quote Originally Posted by Rora View Post
    ....How often do you find yourself needing/using personal ventilation/filtration in your day to day work?

    <snip>

    ...or do you find yourself under structure ventilation often enough this would only end up getting in the way.

    <snip>

    ....The reason I ask is because I almost think PAPR is more suitable for hobbyists or people who don't spend enough hours per week welding that they'd do a lot of their work under a dedicated ventilation system.
    Rora,

    I have never owned a PAPR system, although I would like to try one just to experience it. I'd mainly like to experience it on a 95 degree, high humidity, out-in-the-sun type of day! Another advantage I can see is that facial hair would be no problem, unlike with a standard respirator where it destroys the sealing capability.

    Having said all that, my respirator system has always been the 3M 7500 series with 2091 filters. This fits under my shield, exhales downward to keep from fogging the lens, and is easily portable with no batteries to maintain or supply hoses to be careful of. Spare filters are cheap and last a long time. Not a target for theft, either, and if it falls apart I can be into another one for about $20.

    There has never been ventilation at any of the places I work, and never was when I worked in shops, either. (Unless you count a 20" Wal-Mart box fan.) You were at the mercy of air currents from doors being open and the wind.

    I can leave my respirator on and switch to a clear face shield for grinding / other work in the area when I'm not actually welding. Not being able to keep the respirator on during non-welding duties (fitting, jigging, etc) would be a big concern of mine with a PAPR system, because those fumes don't just disappear the moment you stop welding, especially if you're on a jobsite or without a ventilation system.

    If you're welding in a place that the 2091 wouldn't filter enough fumes away, to be honest a PAPR isn't going to either. For severely contaminated places, there's no replacement for a supplied-air system of some type.

    I would suggest going the route of PAPR if you have the money -- it is, after all, the wave of the future. However, I'd be sure to have a secondary respirator and standard shield around, because you *will* need them at some point.
    Last edited by tbone550; 02-09-2013 at 10:33 AM.
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  9. #9
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    Re: Investing in new helmet - PAPR or not for professional welding career

    I use N95 filtration at my workplace (in the medical field). I can recommend the PAPR option for another reason...the cool air blowing over your face, while you are working. When you are working with a lot of PPE on, it is nice to have a cool breeze.

    As a minor addendum, since we are dealing with safety gear, I want to point out that neither PAPR's nor regular face masks make 'oxygen.' They filter stuff out of the air available in the compartment you are in. So, if there is not enough oxygen in the place you are welding (less than 19%), then you are still in danger.

    I usually just use the disposable N95 filter masks (usually about $20 for 10 masks) for sanding, grinding, and other fabrication. I get the ones with the exhalation valve, which makes it a LOT more comfortable than the cheapest versions.

    Notice how much darker the mask on the left is? That is after several hours of grinding aluminum. The mask on the right is a brand new mask. It's not fun to wear a mask, but I would rather have that junk in the mask than in my lungs...


    You can get a version of that mask for welding...it has the black exhalation valve cover, instead of the yellow.

    Kev
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  10. #10
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    Re: Investing in new helmet - PAPR or not for professional welding career

    Quote Originally Posted by Machine_Punk View Post
    dsNotice how much darker the mask on the left is? That is after several hours of grinding aluminum. The mask on the right is a brand new mask. It's not fun to wear a mask, but I would rather have that junk in the mask than in my lungs...


    You can get a version of that mask for welding...it has the black exhalation valve cover, instead of the yellow.

    Kev
    Thank you Kev you just answered my question. I'll go with the PAPR w/ grinding shield. Never knew that much dust would get into your lungs while grinding now I know.

  11. #11
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    Re: Investing in new helmet - PAPR or not for professional welding career

    You bet. I wear a respirator all the time and I still often dig black crap out of my nose. I hate it. I tried to go live in a hole but it was cold there.

    This is supposed to be white.


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    Re: Investing in new helmet - PAPR or not for professional welding career

    Hey Mike, have you been fit-tested for that exact respirator? Do you have facial hair? You shouldn't be getting black boogers with that mask and that style of filters unless there's a leak. The last time I had black junk coming out of my nose was the day before I started wearing that exact same setup, and that's been years ago now.

    Now if you were using the style of respirator in post #9, I can see not getting full filtration. Basically a glorified dust mask which is incapable of a complete facial seal. Usually it's the nose and chin area where leaks occur on that style. (No offense to Machine_Punk meant)
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  13. #13
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    Re: Investing in new helmet - PAPR or not for professional welding career

    Quote Originally Posted by tbone550 View Post
    Hey Mike, have you been fit-tested for that exact respirator? Do you have facial hair? You shouldn't be getting black boogers with that mask and that style of filters unless there's a leak. The last time I had black junk coming out of my nose was the day before I started wearing that exact same setup, and that's been years ago now.

    Now if you were using the style of respirator in post #9, I can see not getting full filtration. Basically a glorified dust mask which is incapable of a complete facial seal. Usually it's the nose and chin area where leaks occur on that style. (No offense to Machine_Punk meant)
    None taken...but I AM fit-tested for that exact style of mask at work. A rather boring procedure, but it IS possible to get a good fit with that mask (we also have to talk, move our heads, and bend down during the fit testing.) So, it is possible, but the average person doesn't know much about fitting masks.

    In the military, we wore full-face, chemical protective masks. They were labeled "S," "M" & "L," which most people assumed were small, medium and large, but they are actually SHORT, MEDIUM and LONG. They used a large pair of calipers to measure a vertical dimension on your face...which is more important in fitting masks than 'how big' your face is.

    The style you see in my pics has the 'M' style nose clips, which are much easier to fit to your nose than the cheap, simple, straight wire. The exhalation valve helps a lot too...the mask isn't pushed off your face every breath.

    Of course, there is no substitution for a proper fit test on ANY respiratory protective gear. Even buying the silicone mask with cartridges is not a guarantee that you have a 'proper fit.' We are also fit-tested for the PAPRS we use, which are essentially a Tyvek bag with an elastic cuff.

    As far as I am concerned, the proper mask is the one which fits AND which YOU WILL WEAR. If it is inconvenient, ill-fitting, or uncomfortable, you will consistently find reasons to not protect yourself.

    Be safe guys!

    Kev
    Kevin / Machine_Punk from The Aerodrome Studio

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    Re: Investing in new helmet - PAPR or not for professional welding career

    Quote Originally Posted by mikecwik View Post
    You bet. I wear a respirator all the time and I still often dig black crap out of my nose. I hate it. I tried to go live in a hole but it was cold there.

    This is supposed to be white.
    I have the same respirator that you have.. I've never had the black junk in my nose!

    When I take the filter off to see if it needs replaced, The inside is still white, and the outside is black as coal.
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  15. #15
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    Re: Investing in new helmet - PAPR or not for professional welding career

    Quote Originally Posted by tbone550 View Post
    Hey Mike, have you been fit-tested for that exact respirator? Do you have facial hair? You shouldn't be getting black boogers with that mask and that style of filters unless there's a leak. The last time I had black junk coming out of my nose was the day before I started wearing that exact same setup, and that's been years ago now.

    Now if you were using the style of respirator in post #9, I can see not getting full filtration. Basically a glorified dust mask which is incapable of a complete facial seal. Usually it's the nose and chin area where leaks occur on that style. (No offense to Machine_Punk meant)
    It is not from when I am wearing the mask and what I am doing requiring it. There is just so much other stuff going on that causes it. Just somebody riding around on a forklift kicks up junk, some idiot making dust (sweeping the floor), somebody cleaning off their work area with compressed air because a broom is that much harder or cleaning out the shop vac indoors since it would be too hard to take it outside to do it. I am not in love with my fellow man in case you didnt know.

    Quote Originally Posted by WelderBill View Post
    I have the same respirator that you have.. I've never had the black junk in my nose!

    When I take the filter off to see if it needs replaced, The inside is still white, and the outside is black as coal.
    Are you sure you are not looking at the charcoal element? You can see the backside layer of it in the photo i posted where i cut it too deep.

    And i agree, I wouldn't waste my money on those other filters. If it is all you have then yes use them.
    Last edited by mikecwik; 02-10-2013 at 10:00 PM.

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    Re: Investing in new helmet - PAPR or not for professional welding career

    You know this also makes you realize... if this is how much crap can get into your breathing during grinding, where the particles are a lot heavier and don't get circulated as much through the air, just imagine how much crap you're getting from welding fumes. Yet the average hobbyist welder does not wear any respirator.

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    Re: Investing in new helmet - PAPR or not for professional welding career

    Quote Originally Posted by mikecwik View Post
    Are you sure you are not looking at the charcoal element? You can see the backside layer of it in the photo i posted where i cut it too deep.

    And i agree, I wouldn't waste my money on those other filters. If it is all you have then yes use them.
    I just look at the outside, and then take the filters off to look at the backside to see if they're dirty.. I didn't cut into the backside layer, but I will next time I change filters just to see what it looks like.

    Here's a couple pictures of my filters.. I just put new filters in Thursday.. I write down the date on a dry erase board I have in my shop.



    Outside layer.



    Inside layer.
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  18. #18
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    Re: Investing in new helmet - PAPR or not for professional welding career

    I found a new 9100x adflo for what i thought was so inexpensive I forwent contacting 3m with my questions. Comparatively inexpensive is a better way of putting it. Heck, i can get that new maxstar with what i saved on that deal.

    Who am I kidding, I never find good deals so, I know im going to get burned somehow on it.

  19. #19
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    Re: Investing in new helmet - PAPR or not for professional welding career

    Quote Originally Posted by mikecwik View Post
    I found a new 9100x adflo for what i thought was so inexpensive I forwent contacting 3m with my questions. Comparatively inexpensive is a better way of putting it. Heck, i can get that new maxstar with what i saved on that deal.

    Who am I kidding, I never find good deals so, I know im going to get burned somehow on it.
    It must be a small world cause I just bought a used 9100FX w/ Adflo for $600 on eBay. It's dirty and scratched up but I figure with some TLC, a 9100xx starter kit and an Adflo starter kit, and I can have a like-new unit apart from the ADF module (which is like-new) and the Adflo motor, which would be the only thing that sets it apart from a totally new unit apart from cosmetics.

    If the headgear is worn out I might even be able to get 3M to replace that (new headgear is $21). Think I might even splurge on the extended coverage pieces too.

    I'm waiting to find out if the guy will ship to Canada, if not I'll have to have it sent to my folks in the US first, but I'll write an in-depth review once I put it through it's paces probably in the next couple of weeks.
    Last edited by Rora; 02-14-2013 at 05:13 AM.

  20. #20
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    Re: Investing in new helmet - PAPR or not for professional welding career

    I am looking forward to mine as well, not so much to using one in a cold shop though.
    Last edited by mikecwik; 02-14-2013 at 06:45 AM.

  21. #21

    Re: Investing in new helmet - PAPR or not for professional welding career

    Yeah..... respiratory gear IS a worthwhile investment.... BUT the first things you need to concentrate on are MAKING SURE that the work place or work area is properly ventilated - with a cross flow (light) breeze... (left to right or vis versa) and that can be from extraction fans on the walls, or a down draft bench, or a proper welding zone suction hose thing etc..... Even a pedestal or big desk fan sucking or blowing the fumes up and away and else where can be a good thing...

    And then go for the respiratory protection gear......

    I kind of like the plain helmets with the plain Aulektro glass lenses, and the half mask respirators with the flat pad type filters, simply because I find that having equipment strapped onto my back and all the hoses and **** - to be annoying. BUT if I really need to be hooked up to a fresh air supply, a compressed air line system with in line dewatering, filtering and contaminant removal, and that, coupled to a leather belt, and being fed to a respirator, is a good thing for confined spaces.....

    What gets up my arse about the whole issue is that filtration medium is comparatively cheap to supply.... I mean **** - everyone who has ever smoked has used a smoke filter.... So the padding to capture ultrafine particles is easy to make / get, and the activated charcoal - there is a whole heap of science in all this bull**** but you can get the type that comes in extruded rods, that is for fish tanks and that costs $20 a kilo, and yet here in Australia we get charged $40 a cartridge with 100 grams of the same crap in it..... Fluval Activated Carbon Bags -

    It's simple enough - prefiltering - to get the fine particulate matter out of the air, with even simpler prefilters for those, and then the activated charcoal filters to take up the fumes and then an after filter to filter out the charcoal dust.....

    Yeah I design and build these systems because once established, my refills cost me $5 each and the local safety shop is charging $40.....

    And yes - my air is very clean thank you, and I can run my systems past the best in the world and beat them....

    All you are paying for is convenience and mark ups...... = $$$$$$$$$$
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    Re: Investing in new helmet - PAPR or not for professional welding career

    Hey Rora,

    I am the same with not putting a price on respiratory protection. With all of the research and news about welding fume begin carcinogenic for humans, there is no way I am going to risk inhaling cancerous welding fume when I can get an Adflo system that keeps the black crap out of my sinuses and lungs. Not to mention the system keeps me way cooler when working in summer or in tighter spaces.

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    Re: Investing in new helmet - PAPR or not for professional welding career

    This thread was started 5 years ago.. I’m sure the original poster has since long found out what he was wanting to know...
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