Do CBRN Filters Expire?

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Do CBRN filters expire?  Do CBRN filters have a shelf life?

Yes, CBRN gas mask filters expire if not used.  High-quality CBRN gas mask filters have a shelf life of 6-25 years, depending on the manufacturer and packaging.  A hermetically sealed package will extend the shelf life.  In comparison, most particle filters have a 5-12-year shelf life.

Can you use expired CBRN gas mask filters?

It is possible to use expired CBRN filters if they are still in their original packaging — they will still offer some amount of protection.  However, it is impossible to know how much protection the filter will provide after its expiration date.

Generally speaking, a gas mask filter will not protect you if the filter cartridges attached to it have been out of date, exposed to the air, or broken.  Gas mask filters with charcoal or other chemicals for filtration should be kept in sealed containers. Unless the cartridges are sealed in airtight packing, they should be avoided.

You are taking a big risk by using a CBRN filter past its expiration date.  However, if it’s your only option and you have no new filters available, an unused but expired filter will work better than nothing.

What happens if you use an expired CBRN filter?

Using an expired CBRN filter will not offer the same protection that a new (or unexpired) filter offers.  The internal chemical reactants may not absorb or counteract CBRN agents, exposing you to risk of severe harm or death.

Simlarly, the seals may fail, become hard, unable to form a proper seal in the mask.  This opens up a channel for dangerous chemicals to circumvent the filter entirely.

Bottom line, when a CBRN filter expires it will invariably stop working properly and become a critical failure point for the exact toxins you are trying to keep out.

How long do CBRN filters last once opened?

CBRN filters are designed to last for 24 hours when in “active filtration” use (i.e. the wearer is breathing through it for 24 hours with a sealed mask).

However, its ability to offer protection after being removed from its packaging drops considerably.  When a CBRN gas mask filter is removed from its packaging, it can generally last up to 6 months if not used, depending on the environment and any exposure to chemical agents.

A new filter should always be installed each time the mask is worn — otherwise it is almost impossible to know how long the CBRN filter will last.

MIRA Safety NBC-77 CBRN Filter
MIRA Safety CBRN Gas Mask Filter NBC-77 SOF 40mm

This video should help explain CBRN gas mask filter protection:

Related Questions and Answers

What is a CBRN filter?

CBRN filters guard against threats posed by chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear agents.  Some of the most toxic industrial chemicals and biological agents are shielded from exposure by CBRN filters.

What does a CBRN filter stop?

CBRN filters are designed to stop chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear agents.

Chemical agents include aerosolized poisonous liquids, nerve gas (sarin, soman, tabun, cyclosarin, VX), cyanide, mustard gas, phosgene, chlorine, ammonia, methylisocyanate and various tear gases.

Biological agents include anthrax, ricin, smallpox, botulism, plague, brucellosis, SARS, H1N1, ebola, influenza, infectuous spores and others.

Radiological agents include Caesium 137, Cobalt 60 and fallout from nuclear energy reactor meltdowns, or exposure to spent nuclear reactor waste.

Nuclear agents result from nuclear attack via bomb, missile or “dirty bomb”.

Are CBRN gas mask filters universal?

Yes, CBRN gas mask filters are universal if built to fit the NATO 40mm standard.  To ensure compatibility across gas masks and filter manufacturers in the event of CBRN warfare, NATO developed the 40mm canister type filter standard.  CBRN gas mask filters designed to meet NATO standards are universal across all NATO-compliant masks.

How long does a NATO 40mm filter last in use?

NATO 40mm filters are designed to last between 12 and 24 hours when in use.  If the wearer breathes heavily for long periods of high exertion, then a NATO 40mm filter will last for a shorter time.  Under normal controlled breathing they will generally last 24 hours in use.

How long do gas mask filters last?

It is important to distinguish between gas and particle filters. No matter how many times or whether it has been used at all, the filter should always be changed every 6 months after it has been opened, whether it’s been used or not. Once a gas filter cartridge is opened, it will continue to collect and remove impurities from the air around it.

Why do CBRN respirator filters expire?

Respirator filters expire for four main reasons:

  1. The chemical compounds in the filter designed to neutralize or absorb the target toxins break down over time.  This is because they are naturally reactant to their environment, so any exposure (no matter how minute) gradually reduces their effectiveness.
  2. The seals and sealing surfaces become hard or degrade to the point where they cannot guarantee an effective seal.  This creates a failure route and exposes the wearer directly to toxic agents.
  3. The outer packaging may break down or become damaged due to handling and storage conditions. Any damage to the packaging exposes the filter to atmospheric conditions, causing it to quickly lose effectiveness.
  4. The manufacturer cannot guarantee the filter’s effectiveness beyond a certain time with a high confidence level.  This is usually due to inability to test a filter over long static periods of time.  Out of an abundance of caution, the manufacturer sets an expiration date.

Do particulate filters expire?

Particulate filters may last up to 12 years if they are kept in their original packaging and not opened.

Do carbon filters expire?

Activated carbon filters have a shelf life of 3 years from the date of purchase, when kept in their original polythene packaging. Because carbon is a natural absorber, activated carbon filters should never be left exposed (unwrapped).

Do NATO filters have asbestos?

NATO filters are made by a wide variety of manufacturers across the globe.  Past tests reveale a small amount of asbestos found in several Russian manufacturers’ filters.  However, the amount of asbestos and expected exposure time would not have a significant impact on the wearer, particularly compared to the deadly agents the filter protects against.

Will P100 filter tear gas?

Disposable P100 respirator masks do not protect against tear gas.  Respirator masks such as the N95 or P100, which are commonly available, provide only a bare minimum level of protection in most emergency situations. Floating charred plant and building fragments, dust, and microorganisms are all removed by these filters. Tear gas and other chemical and biological agents are generally not removed.

Read more: CBRN vs. P100 filters

What are the different types of gas mask filters?

Gas mask filters come in three general types:

  • Gas filters (for gases such as carbon monoxide and ammonia)
  • Vapor filters (for vapors such as water vapor or paint vapor)
  • Combination filters (gas & particles)

How do I know if my respirator filter is bad?

As the cartridge wears out, it loses its ability to mask the smell of chemicals and solvents. It’s time to change your cartridge if you detect strong scents that weren’t present previously.

How long do PAPR (powered air-purifying respirator) filters last?

It is necessary to update PAPR filters every two to four weeks (subject to frequency of use and application). More frequently use and/or more harmful contaminants will require more frequent replacement.

How long do 7093 HEPA particle filters last?

3M 7093 HEPA particle filters generally last for approximately 40 hours of use.  If aerosols are present, then the useful life drops to 30 hours.

Related Topics

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  • cbrn 40mm filter
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  • how long does a gas mask filter last
  • 3m 40mm filter
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Jack Harrison
About Jack Harrison

JT Harrison is an expert Survival Instructor, focused on wilderness and urban survival techniques. He focuses on survival, prepping, food, water, shelter and other essential steps individuals and families can take to live for long periods outdoors, or in crisis situations. JT has been trekking and climbing for 20+ years in some of the harshest environments in the world. Learn more about JT here or connect with him on Twitter