I've recently begun spray painting and realized that I should probably buy a gas mask to protect me from harmful solvents.

I read as much as I could, but since it's not my area of expertise, I would like to ask for someone more qualified than me to see if I made the right choice.

I chose a 3M 7503L as a half mask, with a pair of 3M 06915 cartridges Link in german for protection. I was not certain if this is the right filter for the job, or if this filter is compatible with the mask.

The filter states it's suitable for spray painting, so I guess it's alright. Then again, "I guess" isn't good enough for personal safety.

I also happen to have a thick beard, which could be a problem. And no, shaving it is not an option.

Edit: The spray contians the following:

  • Acetone
  • Propane
  • Butane
  • Xylene
  • Isobutane
  • Propylene Glycol Monomethyl Ether
  • Petroleum distillates
  • What sorts of solvents does the spray paint can say it has in it? Jun 2, 2019 at 22:02
  • @ThreePhaseEel Added it in an edit
    – MechMK1
    Jun 2, 2019 at 22:37
  • 1
    Please edit to include that you have a heavy beard. That makes it a no fir you but probably a yes for a clean shaven face
    – Kris
    Jun 3, 2019 at 1:07
  • The beard is not always a problem. It has more to do with the shape of your face. I am a mariner of 40 years and have been wearing respirators, full face and half face and scba at least weekly my entire career. I was using one yesterday. I have a heavy beard. No problem. I have lost count of the number of arguments I have had with OHS trainers. Do a negative pressure test. Fit the mask snuggly. Seal the inlets. Breathe in. If the mask sucks down on to your face and no air leaks in around the edges you are good to go.
    – pHred
    Jun 7, 2019 at 12:16
  • @pHred I bought and tested the half-mask. The beard does allow limited air to pass through, but I feel like most of it goes through the filters. From my subjective experience, the mask helps a lot, even though the seal isn't perfect. Yes, a positive pressure mask would probably be better, but if I can choose 80 % performance for a reasonable budget and 100 % performance for something I can't afford, then I know what I will choose.
    – MechMK1
    Jun 7, 2019 at 12:26

1 Answer 1


The 3M half mask, as long as it fits well (and you don't have a beard or other impediments) should be fine. My rough translation of the German link indicates that the filter is for organic vapors, so those are perfect for spraying. You can usually find pre-filters that go on the OV cartridges that'll slow the clogging process.

Caveat: there are probably some harmful solvents that aren't adequately covered by the OV mask. If you are using something non-typical, check with the manufacturer.

edit to reflect new information:

Beards are a problem, as a poor seal isn't protecting you. You might need to shave, or look at 'positive pressure respirator' masks.

A useful guide to various chemicals can be found on 3Ms website: respirator selection guide (Chemicals start at page 15. It's noteworthy that many of your listed chemicals cause short filter life, and propane won't be filtered by the OV unit.)

  • 3
    I happen to have a beard, quite a thick one actually. What mask should I take in this case?
    – MechMK1
    Jun 2, 2019 at 22:31
  • 1
    A hood with positive pressure is likely the only safe way to go with a beard. osha.gov/laws-regs/standardinterpretations/2003-03-07-0
    – Kris
    Jun 3, 2019 at 1:01
  • In all honesty, I don't think that a positive pressure mask is going to be in my budget, especially for the amount of spraying that I am doing outside. I believe that the half mask offering some protection is better than a mask I can't afford at all.
    – MechMK1
    Jun 3, 2019 at 9:35
  • I don't know if it exists, but I'm imagining a device you hold in your mouth like a scuba mouthpiece that has a filter on it, or a tube that goes to a filter. That way your lips instead of your face are making the seal.
    – JPhi1618
    Jun 3, 2019 at 15:52
  • @JPhi1618 -- there are (or maybe were) devices as you describe, though I understand them only to have dust filters, rather than OV cartridges. Only bad thing is that you need to plug your nose. Jun 5, 2019 at 2:44

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