How Long Do CBRN Filters Last When Used?

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How long can you use a CBRN filter after it’s been breathed through?

A CBRN filter can last between 16 and 24 hours once you begin breathing through it.

However, you should change your filter every 8-10 hours if you are in a heavily polluted environment, or you have a high breathing rate for long periods of time. In these cases, your CBRN filter will fill up quickly and need to be changed often. If you ever detect odors or fumes through your CBRN mask, immediately change the filter.

How long do CBRN filters last once opened?

Regardless if a CBRN filter has just been removed from its air-tight packaging, or whether it’s been attached to mask and used already, time starts ticking quickly once a CBRN filter has been opened.

CBRN filters are highly absorbant when exposed to the outside environment. The chemical make-up and structure of the filter is designed to absorb any chemicals, biological agents or radioactive agents in the air. Because they are so active, CBRN filters can quickly “fill up” with things they are designed to absorb. If the environment is humid, windy or has heavy particles, this will tend to shorten a CBRN filter’s life, even if you have not actually used the filter yet.

A CBRN filter can last between 3 weeks and 3 months if it’s been opened, but has not yet been used. Once the air-tight seal is broken on the packaging the filter will begin absorbing chemicals, particles and moisture from the environment.

Once you install a CBRN filter in your mask and breathe through it, the filter will generally last between 12 and 24 hours of continuous use. The active life can vary due to environmental conditions, how large a person you are, and how hard you breathe. If you are exerting yourself and breathing heavily, such as running or in an active combat situation, then your CBRN filter will not last as long, and you will need to change it more frequently.

Helpful CBRN Filters

Mira Safety Certified CBRN filter 40 mm NATO with Longest shelf life – 20 years

3M Gas Mask Filter CBRN 40mm C2A1 NATO with Longest 15 Year Shelf Life M44

SUPERGUM Gas Mask Filter, CBRN 40mm, Israeli gas mask filter

How many hours do CBRN mask filters last?

Your environment’s level of dust, humidity and CBRN agent pollution will have an effect on how long it takes to fill up a CBRN filter. In normal usage, CBRN filters may last 16 to 24 hours, however they should be changed every 8-10 hours if you are in a heavily polluted environment, or are breathing heavily for extended periods, such as in a combat situation.

How long do gas filters last?

An unopened gas filter may last for between 5-20 years, or even more, depending on the type, manufacturer and storage conditions. Normal gas filters typically last 5-7 years. CBRN filters typically last 10-20 years.

If the gas filter is unused but the air-tight package is opened or fails, then it may last for 3 weeks to 3 months.

A gas filter will normally last between 8-24 hours once you start using it.

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

Gas filters should never be utilized beyond their expiration date. If you can taste or smell impurities or odors, that’s a sign that it’s time to replace your gas filter immediately.

This video will help you understand how long gas filters and CBRN filters last:

Related Questions and Answers

Are gas mask filters universal?

There are two factors to consider when determining if a gas filter is “universal”:

First, the gas mask attachment method and size.

The most universal attachment standard for CBRN masks is the NATO standard 40 mm x 1/7” pitch threading. All NATO countries, and many non-NATO countries follow this universal standard. Any NATO 40 mm filter will attach to any NATO standard gas mask.

The other major standard for CBRN masks is GOST 8762-75 which requires a 40 mm x 4mm pitch threading. The former Soviet Union countries, along with many countries such as Iran that were armed by Russia, use the GOST standard. Any GOST filter will attach to any GOST standard gas mask.

Second, the intended protection and rating system.

A gas filter must not only fit the mask, but it must also use a standardized rating system for the types of agents it protects against. In the U.S., NIOSH rating standards are used. In Europe, European Conformity (CE) standards are used. One such European standard is EN 136:1998 for full-face gas masks. Other countries such as China and Japan use their own rating systems, but many gas masks and filters are manufactured and tested using multiple rating systems.

Can you use old gas mask filters?

The answer to this question is “it depends”. To begin, it is not advised to use an expired gas mask filter because there is no way to predict whether it will actually protect you. It may be your only option when supplies are short, but you’re taking your life into your own hands if you do.

If a gas mask filter has been stored stationary in a cool, dry environment with no vermin, transportation or sunlight to break down the packaging, then it will likely still offer some level of protection. Perhaps even 80-90%.

On the other hand, if the packaging has been penetrated or worn, or subject to impacts or friction, or moisture, mold, UV sunlight or excess heat, then you should not use the gas mask filter. It is highly likely that it will no longer protect you. Never use a mask or filter cartridges that is old, exposed to the air or broken. Filter cartridges should not be used if they have been opened or are not packaged in an airtight manner.

Gas mask filter manufacturers always advise strongly against using their filters past the specified expiration date. This is because the filters cannot be tested, and their level of protection cannot be accurately predicted, beyond that expiration date.

Why do respirator filters expire?

The housing and seals may deteriorate with time, which can compromise the fit and seal to the gas mask. In addition, the internal structure may gradually absorb pollutants, or break down with heat or moisture exposure. These things open up potential channels for toxic agents to get through the filter. As a result, expired respirators may not fulfill the standards specified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

What happens if you use an expired gas mask filter?

Over the course of time, pollutants can build up in an expired gas mask filter, the seals or housing can break down, making it ineffective at removing any more pollutants or toxic agents from the air.

In the base case scenario, an expired gas filter will continue to work and protect the wearer from toxic agents. In the worst case scenario, an expired gas filter that has lost its seal or capacity to absorb pollutants will allow toxic agents through, which end up poisoning the wearer. Unfortunately, it is impossible to predict the protection ability of an expired gas filter, and using them is not advised.

How do you store respirator cartridges?

Properly store clean, dry respirator cartridges in air-tight, UV-protected containers, such as a dark zip-sealed plastic bag or metal can with a sealed screw-on or lock lid. These containers should then be stored in a temperature- and humidity-controlled cabinet or bin. The temperature should be held as stable as possible, and should not be lower than 50 degrees Farenheit, or higher than 80 degrees Farenheit.

How long do P100 respirator filters last?

In general, the P100 filters used in elastomeric respirators have a lifetime of at least six months.

NEXT UP: How Do CBRN Agents Enter the Body?

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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