When to use an N95 Respirator vs. a Reusable RZ Mask

RZ Industries® is known for our comfortable, reusable air filtration masks. They’re great for protecting up to 99.9% of airborne dust, dirt, pollen and odors and work for many of the active jobs and activities out there. But there is a time and place both reusable masks and disposable N95 respirators. We often get the question of when to use an RZ Mask® versus an RZ N95 respirator. We asked RZ Industries® Founder and CEO, Steve Torbenson, to help clarify the best uses for both.

Q: What does the N95 mean?
A: The N95 is a particulate filtering respirator that is regulated by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The “N” stands for “Not Resistant to Oil,” meaning if you are using it in a work environment without oil aerosols, this type of mask will work. They only protect from air particulates – not gases or fumes. The 95 stands for 95% filtration of airborne particles.

Q: What rating do the RZ® masks have?
A. RZ Masks have been independently tested by the world renowned Nelson Laboratories in Salt Lake City, UT. We performed multiple tests to confirm the safety of our filtration. The first test of our F1 Filter, the Latex Particle Challenge, provided results of up to 99.9% filtration. We also performed the Sodium Chloride test used for N95 masks and received results that exceed the N95 standard for filtration.

Q: When should someone opt for a disposable N95 respirator over the reusable RZ® masks?
A. Airborne particulates will embed into any mask you wear, so you want to be sure it's a substance that's easily cleanable. When working with products that may not come out of the mesh material, such as fiberglass, excessive mold or really bad smelling situations like cleaning a pig barn, I recommend using the RZ N95 disposable and throwing away after one use.

Q: What materials or activities are reusable RZ® masks made to protect?
A. I’ve heard probably 100 different uses over the years that people have used our mask for, but the most common high dust environment uses include:

  • Sawing and sanding non-treated wood
  • Painting with water-based paint
  • Mowing and lawn care
  • Allergy season
  • Smoke during wildfire season
  • Protection for off-roading dust/dirt
  • COVID-19 protection (when paired with our patent-pending Exhalation Valve Caps)


    Q: If you are not working with a toxic substance, what do people feel the benefit of the RZ Mask® is over an N95?
    A: Hands down the comfort and breathability are the reasons I hear over and over that people love our dust masks. Paper masks are not very comfortable and get wet with condensation the longer you wear them, but the RZ Mask® has dual valves that keep the mask dry. If you wear a mask on a frequent basis, the reusable masks will also save you a ton of money – over $550 a year on average for a higher level of protection (up to 99.9% vs. 95% of the N95), and that’s something everyone loves.

    RZ is proud to offer both options for face protection. Shop all of our reusable air filtration masks or our RZ N95 respirators today.

    Still wondering which mask is right for your next job? Feel free to reach out to our Customer Support Team at any time to help answer your question.

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