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Gas mask filter shelf life

A gas mask filter – just like any other filter – has a limited shelf life, which is called breakthrough time. It occurs when the carbon granules cannot absorb a pollutant (toxic gas) anymore. As a consequence, the user cannot breath clean filtered air any longer.

Gas mask filter and respirator cartridges for air purifying respiratory protection

A gas mask filter features a carbon-made micro porous structure with a very large absorption surface in a small cartridge. Thanks to this technology, filters include less carbon (from 220 to 230 mL), which also reduces weight and breathing effort. Tables with theoretical shelf lives are available but shall not be taken strictly. Indeed, the shelf life of a gas filter depends on several factors.

Factors impacting gas filter shelf life:

  • Gas concentration: higher concentrations will quickly accumulate the pollutant on carbon, hastening the breakthrough time.
  • Filtered air flow or breathing rate: theoretical shelf lives are set on a flow of 30 liters of air per minute. A higher breathing rate will reduce the breakthrough time.
  • Temperature: if operation temperature rises, the gas filter shelf life will decrease
  • Relative humidity: for vocs, high humidity will accelerate the breakthrough time. The opposite effect also occurs for some gases like ammonia (nh3) or hydrogen sulfide (h2s)
  • Shocks: shocks on a respirator cartridge have harmful effects. As they pack granules shocks will reduce their absorption power

Gas mask filter shelf life calculation:

There is a formula to calculate a gas filter shelf life:

Shelf life = (1 000 000 x filter capacity*) / (breathing rate x gas concentration)

* the filter capacity depends of the manufacturer. Information is available on technical sheets.

Gas mask filter breakthrough time:

Gas filters for negative pressure respirators:

Test preamble: test gas concentrations for gas masks (negative pressure) are set at 1.000 ppm (0,1% volume) for class 1 and 5.000 ppm (0,5% volume) for class 2.

gas mask filter breaktrough time by filter type for negative pressure respirators

Gas filters for powered air purifying respirators:

Test preamble: Test gas concentrations for PAPR masks are set at 500 ppm (0,05% volume) for class 1 and 1.000 ppm (0,1% volume) for class 2.

Gas mask filtering cartridges breaktrough time for PAPRs

Special filters breakthrough times (AX et Hg-P3):

Special filters breakthrough times

Theoretical breakthrough times source: Scott Safety.

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