How often should I change filters on my RPE?
It can be very difficult to know when you should change a filter but this guide from the HSE is definitely very useful for giving you a steer in the right direction. If you need assistance in determining the most appropriate Respiratory Protective Equipment for your task, you need help setting up a suitable maintenance programme for your equipment, or you want any help and guidance we are always more than happy to advise.
The following is an extract from HSG53 – Respiratory protective equipment at work.
Particle filters will become clogged and make breathing difficult, possibly resulting in face seal leaks. The following is recommended:
- For TH and TM type filters for fan-assisted respirators, change as instructed by the manufacturer.
- For replaceable filters, it would be good practice to mark the filter visibly with the date it was taken out of the packaging and fitted to the RPE; an in-house replacement date can be added to this marking.
Changing particle filters – hints and tips:
- Do not use if the shelf-life expiry date on the filters has passed.
- Change when filters are damaged or visibly contaminated.
- Change when they become harder to breathe through. This can happen quickly if the wearer is exposed to very high dust concentrations.
Gas/vapour filters have a limited capacity for removing gases/vapours, so after a time the gas or vapour will pass straight through. This is known as breakthrough. When breakthrough occurs, the RPE offers no protection.
Filter life is very difficult to predict because it depends on a large number of factors. They don’t last forever. The following is recommended:
- Filter capacity 1 – Change at least every two days or as instructed by the manufacturer; but if the filter is used for protection against a:
- respiratory sensitiser;
- potential carcinogen;
- substance that may cause allergy or asthma symptoms or breathing difficulties if inhaled; change every day, or as instructed by the manufacturer.
- Filter capacity 2 – Change at least once a week or as instructed by the manufacturer.
- For capacity 3 and TM/TH type filters, you should change as instructed by the manufacturer.
- For replaceable filters, it is good practice to mark the filter visibly with the date it was taken out of the packaging and fitted to the RPE; an in-house replacement date can be added to this marking.
Changing gas/vapour filters – hints and tips:
- Change filters as instructed by the manufacturer; for example, AX filters are single use only and mercury (Hg) filters have a maximum use time of 50 hours.
- Change before any expiry date marked on the filter.
- Do not use if the expiry date on the filters has passed.
- Change when damaged or visibly contaminated.
- Change before the contaminant can be smelled or tasted.
- Change before the filter life indicated in your risk assessment.
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