The 3M-8511-N95 Particulate Sanding Respirator with Valve
The 3M-1860-N95 Respirator and Surgical Mask (Bird Flu Mask)
My opinion is yes we do for certain conditions.
Example; My home was less than two miles from a forest fire a few years ago and the burnt ash particulate falling from the sky looked like a light snow fall, with every breath you could feel it in your lungs and could taste it in your mouth. At that time I did not have any masks in my prep stocks (I'm more focused on surviving hurricane threats). Either of these masks would have helped especially if I had to be outside for any length of time.
We are also, I believe, at the beginning of a climate/weather shift and dust storms and forest fires will become more common in the years to come. Small volcano eruptions can pump out massive amounts of choking dust to name just a few scenarios where a particulate filtering mask would be needed. Live Prepared for them!
Then to complicate things we have animal virus's such as the Bird Flu and now pigs have a virus that "if it mutates" and becomes infectious to humans it will be far worse than the bird flu. http://livingprepared.blogspot.com/2014/03/porcine-epidemic-diarrhea-virus.html
A simple respirator mask may save you from a lot of health issues and have you breathing easy in dusty conditions.
Some people will say just stay indoors. Well for people with live stock or family issues where you must travel outside the home a mask is a very wise choice.
Which Mask Do We Need?
There are two common prepper types of respirator masks to have in our prep stock. I have these two in my stock.
One is primarily a dust/particulate mask, commonly referred to as the "N95":
"3M 8511 N95 Particulate Sanding Respirator with Valve".
The other is for what has been referred to as the "Bird Flu" mask:
"3M 1860 N95 Respirator and Surgical Mask/Bird Flu".
Why does the 3M 8511 N95 mask have a breathing valve and the other 3M 1860 N95 surgical mask does not?
The breathing valve only works during your exhale and is beneficial when you're working hard and exhaling/breathing heavily, your exhale will freely pass through the valve and not create pressure that could lift the face sealing perimeter of the mask from your face. During inhale the mask will be sucked tighter about the face sealing you from the atmosphere dust you don't want to inhale.
The surgical mask is not normally used in those heavy work load conditions so it doses not have a valve. This mask also serves as a dust/particulate mask.
Neither of these masks are perfect, but both are rated 95% efficient hence the "N95" designation. However when you need one these masks they are very good and far better than nothing or a homemade bandana over your face.
Long Term Storage:
These masks will last for decades if you simply store them sealed in a Zip-Lock or Mylar sealed storage bags. Just keep them free from moisture that could lead to bacteria growth. Use a zip-lock bag for in the car or bug out bag, a few of them is just smart.
Where to buy?
N95 Particulate Mask:
N95 Surgical Mask:
(above are just two sources, there are many more available so Google search for the best pricing and shipping for your area)
Respirator Fitting to Face Instruction Videos:
For additional facts visit the 3M website:
There are many masks to choose from. This 3M site will explain in detail how each mask 3M makes including these above will protect you in the environment you must deal with.