Lightweight, comfortable, effective dust filtration.
By Carl Duguay
The RZ M2 Mesh Mask is an great alternative for those looking for a super lightweight dust mask that can be worn for hours on end. It’s certainly much lighter in weight than any other dust mask I’ve used except for those disposable paper or cloth masks.
The RZ M2 comes in small, medium/large, and extra large sizes, and twelve colours. It consists of three parts: the face piece (i.e. the ‘dust mask’), a replaceable filter (two come with the mask), and two replaceable exhalation (discharge) valves. You also get a fabric storage bag.
The face piece is held in place by a single Velcro strap that closes at the back of the neck. At the top of the mask is an adjustable metal nose clip that you bend over the bridge of your nose to provide a tighter dust seal. Below the nose clip are the two one-way discharge valves through which your breath is vented out of the mask – which obviously helps to reduce condensation inside the mask as well.
The breathable mesh fabric, which looks to be a polyester material, enables heat to easily dissipate from your face, making the mask very comfortable to wear for extended periods.
The filter is the most important part of this mask. The RZ M2 comes with an F1 filter that can be easily removed from the mask by unscrewing the two discharge valves. Once removed you can hand wash the mask with warm water. A professional or hobbyist woodworker in a small shop should expect to get from 50 to 60 hours of use before replacing the filter. On a work site you might expect about 30 hours of use. A three-pack set of replacement filters cost $9.99. Unlike the filters, the discharge valves don’t have to be replaced (and they can be cleaned when removed).
The filter has two layers – an outer layer that traps fine dust and an inner carbon layer that treats fumes and odours. The filter is not NIOSH approved, but it has been tested by an independent laboratory (Nelson Laboratories) and is rated as 99% efficient for dust particles down to .1 micron – which conforms to the NIOSH N99 criteria for filter efficiency. Which means that you can wear it in a woodshop with confidence that your lungs are being protected from the finest wood dust. However, the RZ M2 shouldn’t be used on a job site that mandates the use of NIOSH approved dust masks.
RZ has two other types of filters that you can use with this mask – an F2 filter that doesn’t include the active carbon layer, and is rated at 97% efficiency, and an F3 filter that provides better breathability than the F1.
I’ve been using the RZ M2 in my shop intermittently for over 4 weeks. I find it very comfortable, and have worn it or upwards of 60 minutes at a time without feeling overly hot or sweaty. My only complaint is that the strap at the back of the neck has a tendency to pull the mask downwards slightly as I move my head around. It certainly isn’t a deal breaker, and something I can put up with given the overall light weight of the mask. Since writing this review I’ve found that RZ now has an M2.5 Mesh Mask that has two fully adjustable straps, rather than the single strap of the M2.
If, like me, you only wear a dust mask intermittently in your shop, and your looking for one that is both light in weight, comfortable, and effective, then you’ll want to consider the competitively priced RZ M2 (or the new M2.5).