Gas mask filters are essetial in order to protect ourselves from harmful chemicals and pollutants, by filtering, cleaning and purifying the air, so that we can safely breathe it. All gas masks and respirators have filters. The most important question regarding this type of headgear, is how long do gas mask filters last?
For protecting your lungs from particles and polluted air, you need to acquire some type of gas mask or respirator. There are several types available in the market, such as full face gas masks like the Israeli & NATO Military Spec Full Face Gas Mask, which is a great model if you are looking for a high quality respirator.
There is also a second type of mask, the half-face gas mask, which are considered rather temporary when compared to the full face masks. A typical example is the G & F Products 3M 07193 Dual Cartridge Respirator, which can offer the desired protection for activities such as painting.
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How long do gas mask filters last?
Most gas mask filters are replaceable. This means, that if you need to perform heavy usage of your gas mask, you are going to be able to change its filter and continue using the mask even after long periods of time.
Although gas masks are considered especially affordable since there are various models of under $50 to choose from, the fact that they have replaceable filters makes them a significantly valuable investment for a very low price.
In order to answer the question regarding the longevity of gas mask filters, we need to take into account several facts regarding the type of filter the gas mask has. As we can understand, every gas mask and respirator model is unique, and that makes the answer somewhat complicated.
The best way to determine how long the filters of a gas mask last, is to be informed about the type of filter our mask utilizes. If we take this into consideration, we can estimate the period of time required before we need to replace the filter.
Types of gas mask filters
Like mentioned above, in order to find out how long the filters of the gas mask are going to last, we need to know the type of filter our mask has. There are two main types of filters, which are the most common in the market:
1 – Particle filters
The first type of gas mask filters, is particle filters. When we own a gas mask that uses particle filters, we should know that manufacturers can inform us more accurately about their longevity, and the ways we can use them in order to get the best out of our gas mask.
In the particular case, there is a fact that is very helpful for the user. The longer we tend to use the gas mask or the respirator, and as a result their particle filters, the better they get in filtering the air and purifying it for the user.
That means that they become more effective the more we use them, and at the same time they are protecting our lungs and breath better.
In order to understand when it is time to change the particle filter, we should observe and decide whether we can breathe conveniently through it or not. After long periods of usage, if there are too many particles stuck into the filter and it become hard for us to inhale, then this is a sign that we need to change the filter.
2 – Gas filters
It is more difficult to determine when we need to replace a gas filter, since they are more complicated than particle filter which are very straight forward. A very important thing all users need to keep in mind, is that you should change gas filter at the right time, before they become dangerous for the user.
That said, when gas filters surpass their longevity limits and they stop functioning properly, they could potentially stop filtering the polluted air. As a result, the user could be inhaling dangerous gases and fumes without the necessary filtering, which could cause health issues.
In order to make sure that you change the gas filter when needed, you need to get accustomed with the type of gas filter your gas mask uses. What is more, you should strictly follow the instructions given by the manufacturer about the estimated time of replacement.
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How important is the size of the filter?
The size of the filter plays a significant role when it comes to longevity and functionality. There are two main classes that we can refer to when we talk about gas masks, and we can see their differences in the list below:
1 – Class 1 filters
The first class of gas filters refers to half face gas masks. This type of gas filters lasts less than class 2, because of the smaller adsorption capacity. This fact, makes gas masks like the Safety Works 817663 Multi-Purpose Respirator a less effective than their full face competitors, although they are an excellent piece of protective head gear for home activities.
2 – Class 2 filters
Class 2 filters are extremely effective, and their adsorption capacity goes up to 5 times more than the capacity of class 1 filters. Gas masks such as the REBUNE Full Face Respirator Pro Anti-Gas Anti-Dust Mask, are great tools when it comes to filtering the air and gaining maximum breathing protection for the user.
Usage intensity of the gas mask
The last factor that determines the longevity of a gas mask filter, is the weight of usage you put into your mask. It is a common rule, that the more you put your gas mask or respirator into work, the more vulnerable you make it to damages or filter replacement.
The main reason why you need to take into account the usage of your gas mask, is because particles tend to get stuck and gather into the filters of the mask, making it more difficult to breathe through them as time goes by.
This is why you are advised to go for a high quality gas mask like the Holulo Organic Vapor Full Face Respirator, which is going to last longer. The filter quality and the amount of air the levels of the air flow, are two of the main characteristics of a gas mask that can withstand heavy usage.
How do gas mask filters work?
When it comes to purifying the contaminated or polluted air to make breathable, gas mask filters come into play. Filters and cartridges with high safety level standards such as the NBC 40mm Respirator Mask Filter, have the ability to protect the user of the gas mask from the majority of airborne threats ,particles and pollutants.
Learning how gas mask filters work is crucial for making proper use of your gas mask or respirator. You are going to be able to use it correctly when needed, and make the process of protecting yourself from gases that threaten your breathing easier and safer.
Here is a list of three significantly effective gas mask filters:
- 40mm CBRN Military Grade Gas Mask Filter
- NATO Israeli Style NBC 40mm Gas Mask Filter
- North 75SCP100 Combination Gas and Vapor Cartridge
Gas mask filters have not as complex mechanisms as people tend to thing. Their job is really straight forward: they are used in order to purify and clean the air from unwanted particles before they get inhaled by the user of the gas mask. Let’s dig deeper into the subject.
Before getting into the specifics regarding the filters of a gas mask, we need to understand how gas mask filters work. Although it is a fairly simple process, it might sound a bit confusing for a beginner, and this why we want to explain it as simply as possible:
Filtering stage 1
As far as two-filter gas masks are concerned, during the inhalation of the user, the air gets into the mask through the left cartridge. The inlet placed on the cartridges guides the contaminated air to the filter, which is designed for filtering particles.
Filtering stage 2
Next step of the process is the cleaning of the air through the second filter, which uses activated charcoal. This is one of the most important filtering steps, because the activated charcoal acts drastically against almost all types of particles, extinguishing them from the air.
Filtering stage 3
The third step, is another filtering process, although this time it is used in order to purify the air inside of the mask from dust remains generated from the charcoal. Although the activated charcoal is highly effective against particles, it leaves small amounts of dust which must be filtered with some type of moisture to prevent it from reaching the lungs of the individual.
Filtering stage 4
The final step of gas mask filtering comes after the trapping of the charcoal dust. Although this is not filtering per se, in the final step the air is allowed to flow from the last filter into the rest of the gas mask, so that the clean air can be inhaled by the user. The right outlet of the mask is responsible for the air flow.
When should you replace the filter cartridges?
Filter cartridges are the most important part of a gas mask. In order to keep the functioning properly, you need to maintain them in a high operative condition, clean them regularly and storing them into safe places where dust and dirtiness cannot reach them.
When the cartridges become dysfunctional, you need to remove and replace them. There are two reasons for replacing the filters of your gas mask.
The first reason for replacing the filters is because of difficulty to inhale. After some time of usage (you can find specific information about how long the filter cartridges last by reading the manual provided by the manufacturer), particles and dust get trapped into the filters and inhalation becomes difficult. When this happens, you need to replace the cartridges.
Secondly, you have to keep an eye on the activated charcoal because after some time it gets saturated. Again, this depends on the type and intensity of usage, and you should be able to have an idea on the time it takes to change the cartridge by reading the specifications provided by the manufacturer of the filter.
Here are some sets of filter cartridges:
- Filter Gas Mask Avon CBRN FM12
- Moldex 7600 Multi-Gas/Vapor Smart Cartridges
- North by Honeywell N75001L Gas and Vapor Cartridges
What are the most common methods to purify the air?
There are three main methods used by gas mask manufacturers in order to clean and purify the polluted or contaminated air. These three methods are different, and they are used in various specific situations in order to eliminate different kind of gases, viruses, pollutants and particles.
Depending on what you need the gas mask for, you have to choose between various types of masks with different filter cartridges that provide the specific protection you seek. Let’s find out more about the specific types of air filtration provided by the gas mask cartridges:
1 – Particle filtration
Particle filtration is probably the most common way to filter particulates, and it is a type of filtration used widely by the gas mask manufacturers. It is also the simplest method of air purification compared to the other two.
Gas masks that utilize particle filtration are specifically designed to prevent biological attacks, because such cartridges can filter effectively bacteria and particles caused by such attacks. Keep in mind though that cartridges using particulate filtration will need to be replaced at some point due to particles trapping inside them.
2 – Chemical adsorption
When it comes to chemical attacks, particulate filtration is not enough. More complex processes have to take place in order to absorb the vapors and chemical gases released into the atmosphere, and this is where the chemical adsorption takes place.
In order to act against hazardous gases and fumes, activated carbon (or activated charcoal) is placed into filters that use chemical adsorption. The activated carbon attaches onto the particles of the fume due to its large surface, which makes them inactive.
3 – Chemical reaction
The chemical reaction is similar to the chemical adsorption, they are not the same though. The chemical reaction process is much simpler, and it serves a different purpose from the chemical absorption. This is why filters that utilize chemical reaction are used for different types of attacks and airborne threats.
During chemical reaction, the filters of the gas mask contain specific types of chemical, which are use to attach onto the chemicals released during and attack or accident, and neutralize them by making a chemical reaction.
As we can see, knowing the way your gas mask filters work is very important in order to understand the functionality of your mask. Learn about the filtering process of the cartridges, and the methods which your gas mask filters use in order to extinguish gases, particles and bacteria.
How to make a gas mask filter
Sometimes, no matter how well-prepared they are, people find themselves in surprisingly dangerous situations where they need to find ways to protect themselves without the proper equipment. If such a situation is a contaminated or polluted place, then learning how to make a gas mask filter might appear to be more than helpful.
Making your own gas mask filter is not a difficult task, in fact any one can do it with the smallest amount of effort. Of course, you are going to need a few things that we are going to list below, and work with your hands to make the filter.
The things you need in order to make a gas mask filter are:
- A soda can
- 20 or 30 grams of Activated Filtered Carbon
- A screwdriver
Now, I know that this list of things might sound a little odd, but it is going to work. Keep in mind, that the gas mask filter we are going to create is a very basic one. If you need a gas mask for working or visit contaminated areas, then acquiring a high quality gas mask like the Israeli & NATO Military Spec Full Face Gas Mask might be the smart choice.
Like we mentioned above, making a gas mask filter is a lot easier than most people may think. You just need to follow the procedure accurately, and make sure that everything is in place. The great thing is, that you do not need to invest any amount of money to make it. Let’s start:
1 – Open holes on the soda can
The first piece of equipment we are going to use, is the screwdriver. In this case, you need a medium size screwdriver like the Lutz 15-in-1 Ratchet Screwdriver, because you don’t want to make the holes on the can neither too big nor too small.
To start with, turn the soda can upside down and stabilize it by holding it tight on the surface that you use. While holding it tight, start opening holes with the edge of the screwdriver on the bottom of the can, until you cover the 3/4 of the bottom.
Additionally, on the of the can you need to make the opening of the can a little bigger, so that there is enough room to put the necessary stuff in the interior part of the can. Again, use the screwdriver, and press the edges of the opening until they start to bend. Continue, until you make it double in size.
2 – Filling the can
Next, we need to filler the inner part of the can in order to create the filtering. In this part, you need to place the materials following the right order, in order to make the filter work properly.
Add a piece of bandage
Firstly, take the bandage and cut a piece from it with your scissors. The piece of bandage needs to be big enough to cover the entire surface of the can’s bottom surface, and some more. Make sure that you always cut this piece a little bigger, just to be sure that you achieve full coverage of the surface. Put the piece of bandage in, by pressing it with the screwdriver.
3 – Place the activated filtered carbon
Next, you need to place the activated filtered carbon above the piece of bandage, inside the can. Put the entire amount of the carbon, no matter if you have 20 or 30 grams. One very important thing to remember, is to add some moisture to the carbon, such as water, in order to remove dirtiness or dust from it.
Make sure that the activated filtered carbon is extended across the entire surface of the can’s bottom. Although it is going to change positions when used, it Is going to help us make the filtering more effective if we place all the materials properly while making the filter.
4 – Add another piece of bandage on the top
Following the placement of the carbon inside the can, now you need to cut another piece of bandage and place it on top of the carbon. As you can see, we cover the activated filter carbon from bottom and top, in order to achieve better filtering while inhaling the contaminated air.
This time, you need to cut a bigger piece of bandage compared to the first time. This way, you are going to cover a bigger surface in the inner part of the can, and place a thicker layer of bandage over the activated filtered carbon.
In order to make the filtering even stronger, I would suggest that you cut another 2 or 3 bigger pieces of bandage and place them on the top of the materials you have already used.
Hopefully, due to the moisture of the carbon, those two pieces of bandage are going to stick slightly on it and stabilize it. Make sure that you use the screwdriver every time you place a material into the can, in order to cover the entire surface and the edges of the can.
5 – Wear a gas mask and test the filter
There is no better way to test the filter we have just made, by using it with our gas mask. Make sure that you have a decent gas mask without a filter, such as the Rubber Mask for Respiratory Protection by GP. You are also going to need a tube which you can use to combine with the can.
What you need to do, is place the can at the edge of the tube, and hold it tightly with your hand in order to create a successful connection between them. Try inhaling the air, to find out if there are any issues with the oxygen passing through the can.
Finally, if you find no issues, you should glue the gas mask tube and the can together. In order to seal it properly, you need to wrap it with duct tape as many times as possible, until no air is able to pass through the connection of the tube and the can. That’s it.
Learning how to make a gas mask filter is not hard. As you can see, you only need a few basic materials and some of your time in order to put them together and create a functioning gas mask filter. Make sure that you follow the instructions properly, and make no shortcuts.
As we can see, answering how long do gas mask filters last is not as simple as it sounds. That said, in for better results and better breath and lung protection, you need to aim for gas masks with high quality filters, with a long estimated lifespan.
Make the best out of your gas mask filters!