Hardhat Respirator

Take a breath and celebrate 40 years of global innovation for safer breathing.

September 5th is N95 day

N95 NIOSH and Regulatory Certification

The purpose

Help protect your lungs, now and in the future, with a 3M N95 Respirator.

  • The air you breathe helps you live life to the fullest today and tomorrow. And like you, every day we go to work we’re giving our best so that you can achieve yours.

    From health care workers to construction to emergency responders, 5 million people in the U.S. are required to use a respirator at work every day.1 N95 is the most common regulatory certification for respiratory protection used in the workplace.

    Chipping away a mile below the surface.

    Installing flooring on the thirteenth floor of a skyscraper.

    Fusing metal on a pipeline that will bring energy to millions.

    Holding the heart of a surgery patient in your hands.

    Exposures can be cumulative, and each day really can matter. At 3M, that’s why we do what we do. Across our labs, we’re working ‘round the clock and ‘round the globe to help improve our respirators. Your life, your health, and your future matter to us.

    1 From the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) website (https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/respiratoryprotection/index.html)

Orange Respirator

The science that helps keep you safe, breath by breath.

Micro protection, macro breathability.

From proprietary filter technologies to state-of-the-art labs around the globe where we conduct advanced experiments, here’s a peek at the science behind your 3M N95 respirator.

You can see dust and debris in the air, but many of the particles that threaten your airways can’t always be seen with the naked eye. For hazardous environments we strive to create respiratory protection that, when used for the right hazard in the right way, helps keep invisible contaminants out. So we looked at ways we could improve the filter fibers—aka, filter media.

Over 35 years ago 3M scientists realized they could use an electrostatic charge to put fibers into action in disposable respirators. This actually attracts more particles to the fibers, catching and preventing them from entering your airways.

The resulting 3M Advanced Electrostatic Media (AEM) in the 8210 respirator tests have shown among the lowest breathing resistance when compared to several competitive respirators.2

The benefits go beyond the capture of particles when you wear it.

2 Based on both 2012 customer study by Burke, Inc. and comparative testing performed by 3M


3 Loading with flux-cored arc welding fume (mild steel wire on mild steel base) at 85L/min for. Source: “Comparison of Pressure Drop and Filtration Efficiency of Particulate Respirators using Welding Fumes and Sodium Chloride” Ann.Occup. Hyg., Vol. 55, No. 6 pp. 666-680, 2011. Note: 8212 and 8514 models were not tested but are the same construction as 8512 and 8214, respectively, with the exception of the presence of faceseal.

“We can use less filter media and therefore it makes it easier to breathe because you don’t need so much filter media in the respirator.

Dr. John Sebastian
Senior 3M Respiratory Products Research Specialist
John Video

There’s more to fit than meets the eye

Fit is key, it can impact the seal of your respirator, the protection provided and even comfort. Because what you need on the job is a respirator that fits so it can help protect you all day long.

At 3M, fit plays a central role in the development process. Our state-of-the-art global labs pave the way for important discoveries and advancements, providing options in respiratory protection for workers around the world.

We test and research facial structures to help us to cover many face types and shapes.

“We’re constantly doing research to try and improve and also offer the workers a variety of models so that their employers can pick the one suited to their face and work conditions.”

Nicole Vars McCullough, PhD, CIH
3M Global Technical Services Manager

Advancing the fit test.

At 3M, our safety excellence extends far beyond lab testing. We developed one of the leading qualitative fit tests in use today. We offer OSHA-compliant fit test kits and extensive training materials that employers and safety managers can use to help ensure that selected N95 respirators can provide workers with a proper fit.

Always remember, when wearing a respirator be an advocate for respirator safety. The golden rule is that if the fit or seal of the respirator is ever compromised during use, STOP immediately, EXIT the worksite, see your supervisor, and do not return to a contaminated area until your respirator fits and functions properly.

“A fit test is done annually by your employer to ensure that he or she has chosen a respirator for you that is capable of fitting your face well.”

Jessica Hauge, CIH, CSP
3M Respirator Products Technical Service Engineer
Jessica Video

7 degrees of cool.

We knew that one of the biggest reasons people didn’t like wearing their respirator was heat. The air that comes out of your lungs is hot and humid. It quickly fills up the respirator cavity, making contact with your face.

That got us thinking about ventilating the respirator which led to a big breakthrough, the 3M™ Cool Flow™ Valve. This unique valve seals during inhalation and opens automatically during exhalation, reducing heat and moisture and directing the air away from your face.

“We’ve actually conducted studies on the 8511 and found that the Cool Flow™ Valve reduced air temperature in the respirator by about seven degrees.”

Dr. Philip Eitzman
3M Respiratory Product Development Specialist
Dr. Philip Eitzman - 3M Respiratory Product Development Specialist

Wooden Respirator

Safe breathing, 40 years in development.

The history.

In 1972, 3M introduced the first National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) approved disposable filtering face-piece respirator. From there, we developed a full line-up of NIOSH-approved N95 respirators for a variety of industries from agriculture to health care to construction and more.

Over the years our technologies have improved, our methodologies have changed and our research has led to industry breakthroughs. But one thing has remained the same: our commitment to protecting worker health and well-being on the job with best-in-class 3M N95 respirators.

“We want to make sure health and safety professionals in every country have the ability to provide a comprehensive respiratory program to their workers whether it’s in their regulations or not.”

Nicole Vars McCullough
3M Global Technical Services Manager
Nicole Video

Happy N95 Day!

Three cheers for safe breathing.

Happy N95 Day! NIOSH created N95 Day to celebrate and promote workplace respirator safety. The holiday falls on September 5 every year, and we celebrate by providing the N95 respirator community with educational materials promoting the proper use and selection of N95 respirators.

Celebrate respirator safety with us. Take a few minutes to ask some questions about your respirator safety – we’ll get you started:


  • Is it time for a new respirator?
  • Do you need a refresher on performing a user seal check?
  • Are your colleagues properly donning their respirator?


Reach out and spread the safety. The efforts you make on N95 Day can have a positive, lasting impact on your health and others in your workplace for decades to come.

What does N95 Day mean to you? Share what your N95 respirator means to you.


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