When it comes to face masks, the most important thing to consider is how long the filter will last. Once opened, the maximum usage time for a face mask filter is 6 months, even if it is not in use. Carbon filters will absorb contaminants from the environment, and as a general rule, they can be used up to seven times. However, this will also depend on how often you wash your mask, since these filters cannot be cleaned.
So, how long will your respirator filter last? If it is not opened in its original packaging, it can last up to 5 years. Once opened, however, it should always be replaced after 6 months, regardless of how many times it has been used or if it has been used at all. Gas filters must be treated differently than particulate filters. Once the gas filter cartridge is open, it will continue to absorb contaminants from the atmosphere.
If the filter is not open, however, it could have a lifespan of up to 5 years. It is important to remember that filters should never be used beyond their expiration date. Establishing a schedule of filter changes is the best way to ensure that filters are changed in a timely manner. Powered air respirators will sound an alarm when the flow cannot be reached, so this is another way to know when to change filters.
If you use a respirator with a particulate filter, be sure to replace the filters as soon as there is damage or if the filter becomes dirty. If you have difficulty breathing through the mask, it's time to replace the filters. Gas filters protect against organic and inorganic gases and vapors; combined filters protect against gaseous and particulate contaminants. Filters and respiratory masks should be stored in a sealed package or container to stop airflow and contamination that can wear down the filter. Different filters have different capacities and limitations, so you should determine when it is time to change the filter or cartridge based on your own needs.