Respirator Filter Storage

For long life, respirator filter cartridges should be stored in a sealed bag or container when not in use. April 30, 2009

I was having a discussion with a friend about typical respirator cartridges. I was wondering if you need to keep them in a sealed bag between usage to prolong the life of the charcoal filter. During our discussion we both assumed you really needed air movement to really wear out the filters. He was brushing his boat with Awlgrip (for which coincidentally charcoal respirator don't work). He asked the boat guys the same question about bagging the cartridges. They told him that OSHA mandates that you keep them in a bag even at lunch time. If you are not breathing then they should be bagged. If this is true, I've been breathing an awful lot of waterborne solvents for a few years.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor K:
Yes you should always bag it.

From contributor R:
Awlgrip is one of the nastiest finishes know to mankind. I think it, along with Dura-Plast were outlawed in the state of California due to it being to toxic. I could be wrong about that but I used a couple of gallons of Awlgrip quite a number of years ago and was sick for about a week after that.

My "mentors" preached the use of respirators since I became a finisher, and I did use the same kind of respirator back then as I do now, but it didnít help with the Awlgrip. That type of coating requires an air assisted respirator while spraying and while the object that was sprayed is off-gassing in the dry room.You need to keep the cartridges in an enclosed- air tight container when not in use. I found the best and easiest thing to do is to unscrew the cartridges and put them into an air-tight "snapware" container. I found this container at Lucky Supermarket and they are great.

Do yourself and your loved ones a favor and secure your chemical cartridges in an air-tight container when you not using your respirator. Also, on the edge of the chemical cartridges is a place to mark the day and month showing when you replaced them. It really depends on how much you spray and what you spray but I changed both charcoal cartridges every other week. Lungs are important, take as good a care of them as humanly possible.

From contributor L:

OSHA does indeed require it to be in a sealed container any time youíre not wearing it. You are also supposed to have a respirator program in place that explains usage and maintenance, with a schedule in place for changing filters. Youíre also supposed to be checked out by the doctor to make sure youíre healthy enough to wear one. I'm a two man shop, and I know this sounds like a lot of BS, but I found out the hard way when OSHA did random air quality checks in our area. We passed all the tests with flying colors, but then got tagged for not having manuals (there are several you need), one being a respirator manual.

From contributor S:
It can't just be a plastic bag. Notice what 3M uses for its disposable respirators. A Mylar metal coated bag will not allow any gas through. Plastic is permeable which is why it is inadequate.

From the original questioner:
That makes perfect sense. Kind of like those Mylar balloons that you are supposed to use with helium. The typical rubber ballons are air porous and the helium goes through them quick. My kid had a helium Mylar balloon floating around his room for a week. Where do you get those bags? Are there airtight boxes available?

From contributor S:
Don't know. I use the 3M respirators so they come with them. I've never seen them sold separately.

From contributor R:
The Snapware box I mentioned is about as air tight as it gets. Itís made from 1/8" plastic with a four clasp locking bar on each side, and a thick rubber seal on the lid.

From contributor F:
Cartridges for spraying should be combination organic vapor and particulate. Change-out schedules are required in industry to prevent clogging the filters. Storage in a gallon baggie is a good idea. Moist environments shorten cartridge life.