Dust Mask for your Urban Survival Bag

Dust Mask Urban Survival

In the years following 9/11 there were, and still are, thousands of emergency workers getting horrible respiratory diseases and cancer from breathing the dust left after the towers collapsed.

You might not be working in a emergency zone for weeks after the SHTF, but there will be things in the air you don’t want to be breathing. Here are a couple different kinds of dusk masks you can use for Urban Survival, or your Get Home Bag.

Going to a doctor for a respiratory illness after total collapse obviously isn’t going to happen, and even in a regional scenario, once you get out you can’t undo damage to your lungs.


The most basic breathing and dust masks just insulate your breathing from the outside air to catch the largest particles. You can easily carry a pack of these to distribute to your group, or others around you. You also will not stand out from the crowd because many people, especially rescue workers, will be wearing them.  Forge Survival Supply now carries several models of masks that you can keep in your car, work bag, or at home.  (Click here)

*Note: Be sure to get N95 rated masks, instead of the cheap paper ones.


  • Cheap
  • Light


  • Least effective
  • Quickly worn out


The respirator can obviously filter more than the basic dust mask and really covers the main things you are looking to avoid in this type of situation including lead, asbestos, toxic dusts, fiberglass, ammonia, formaldehyde, or certain acid gases. There are a few disadvantages, not the least of which is that you will really stand out in a crowd. OSHA and NIOSH approved.


  • Much more effective
  • Longer Use


  • More Expensive
  • Heavier
  • Not subtle


It should go without saying that neither of these options will do anything for you in the event of a serious chemical or gas emergency scenario. They are for protecting your lungs as much as possible from dust and debris.

Visit our new Survival Gear Store – Forge Survival Supply

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Dustin April 13, 2010 at 1:52 am

Great point. My BOB has the cheaper masks in it – I'm going to get the N95 rated ones now.

I also started carrying a folded up bandanna in my back pocket. I carry my wallet in my front pocket (better for your back – you don't sit on it!) and it, obviously has many uses, but one of the most tried and true is a field-expedient dust mask. It's not N95 rated and isn't form-fitting, but easy to carry anywhere and you'll never raise an eyebrow with it on your person.


Lucas_SurvCache April 13, 2010 at 3:27 am


Glad you got it straightened out. The N95 Rating is for the OSHA standards. For be it for me to trust a government agency, but at least when you get them that they will meet some basic standards.

I actually added a link to this article on my 30 uses for a bandana article because it is a great use for one. And you're right it definitely won't draw attention


yellowlyric December 15, 2010 at 3:06 pm

Not to mention if you are a little more prepared with a mask or larger ventilator, throwing a bandanna over it to not draw attention to yourself and block some larger particulates isn't a bad idea either.


mythras May 8, 2010 at 3:23 am

A few more ideas to toss around….

Setting aside efficacy, another pro/con is that the thinner material of a paper mask is much easier to breathe through. A respirator's less permeable filters make breathing a lot harder — even more so if you're trekking around with a backpack full of equipment. Also, your ability to communicate verbally will be diminished.


Lucas_SurvCache May 10, 2010 at 7:48 pm


Very good point. I didn't think about how difficult it would be to do a demanding hike wearing a full respirator. You right a full one would make communication hard, but I think it shouldn't be too bad with the simply masks.

Thanks for your ideas.


jarhead03 February 21, 2011 at 4:41 pm

I work with both dust masks and respirators. I advise against prolonged use because of the restricted air flow could cause dizziness or fainting. I would suggest wearing it long enough do get out of the area.

They can also be used for assisting in water filtration removing the big stuff before using your actual water filter.


RudeBoy August 2, 2010 at 11:23 pm

Search NBC mask suppliers on the web. There are a plethora of rather inexpensive disposable masks on the market that will do more than filter out dry walll dust or paint fumes. There are masks that offer protection from chemical, particulate, and biological components.


Wolfie2884 October 29, 2010 at 12:06 pm

For the female survivalist out there, The emergency Bra might be something to look into as it would be on you the whole day and is 2 masks in 1. Not sure about the effectiveness of it though. http://ebbra.bigcartel.com/


yellowlyric December 15, 2010 at 3:02 pm

Interesting…. Might actually help a little with larger debris but probably a little impractical unless your going for a fashion statement ;)


cautionaryprose November 23, 2010 at 2:35 am

I have used both a number of times while doing urban exploration and didn't really have a problem breathing while climbing around with my pack using the respirator. it is a little heavier and takes some getting used to. my biggest problem is how hard it is to fit in a regular day pack. However, if you are at the point when you think lung damage or disease is possible, being subtle is not generally your biggest concern.


Learyman August 8, 2011 at 8:18 am

I have these shirts in my bag as well as N95 masks, they are more comfortable & fit better than masks.



Dj Big Dog September 23, 2011 at 7:44 am

Hey guys love the sight, but I read this a while ago and it makes sense.

Decent article.


PrepperX November 9, 2011 at 10:37 am

I use a half-face and full-face respirator on a daily basis (oil, gas, chemical industry). I keep a dust mask, half-face respirator and safty goggles in my EDC bag. You would be surprised to learn the nature of the chemicals that are transported through our cities and towns by rail and water.


pfluckiger January 16, 2012 at 7:45 pm

Dust masks are good for dust and that's it. What about bacteria or virus's? Even the best gas mask will not prevent inhalation of those microscopic bugs.

I firmly believe in prep for all the other SHTF scenarios we need to include this one.

Hospital masks, disposable gloves, hand sanitizer etc. should be included in every EDC and BOB as well as Home gear for all those planning to bug in.


550cordfreak April 25, 2012 at 8:41 pm

Actualy dude, on the instructions for 3M's 8200 N95 masks (you can buy a two pack for $4), it says it can quote "Reduce inhalation exposure to certain airborne biological particles i.e. mold bacillus anthracis (anthrax), and Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB)" unquote.


Vaughnde Edwards April 18, 2012 at 10:03 pm

As someone who has MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity) a mask with a charcoal filter is a must. I didn't have one recently when I was on a greyhound bus coming home in a 4.2 hour bus ride and someone sprayed body spray on the bus…Whoa pheewy! I coulda used a mask then but didn't have one with me and I was already suffering from an overexposure elsewhere two days ago…just made it harder for me to breathe and cough more. Definitely got bronchitis quicker.


hbfvhbefvhbwfg February 13, 2013 at 10:49 pm

investing in a real military gas mask( Isreal nbc gas mask )is a better idea than a cheap paper mask. you can pick one up on ebay for 20-30 bucks


KansasScout April 27, 2013 at 12:33 pm

The trouble with a military issue gas masks is that most people don't know how to use one correctly.


KansasScout April 27, 2013 at 12:32 pm

Recently I took and graduated from the CERT Academy for my county here in Kansas. The N95 is the one required in a CERT volunteer's Go-Bag (CERT version of a BOB).


smith July 17, 2013 at 5:48 pm

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