Do Respirator Masks Expire?

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The majority of disposable respirators have an expiry date and once this date has passed, the respirator mask should not be used. Respirator masks are designed to protect users from inhaling harmful substances and particles so using them after their expiry date puts the user at risk, as the respirators may not work to their fullest potential. 

This article will discuss why respirators should not be used after they have expired, how they should be stored and how they should be used. 

What is a respirator mask?

A respirator mask is worn in a range of workplaces and for personal projects where there is a risk of inhaling harmful fumes, gases, vapours and particles which could affect the respiratory system. Generally, respirators fit closely to the user’s face and efficiently filter airborne particles. 

What happens when a respirator mask expires?

When a respirator mask has exceeded its shelf life the mask may not perform at the standard required to effectively protect its wearer. If a respirator mask is old, you may notice that certain features of the mask have degraded. For instance, the mask’s strap may have lost its elasticity and will be ineffective in fitting the user’s head securely – this will pose an unnecessary risk to the user and may lead to the inhalation of harmful materials. 

What affects the expiry date of respirator masks?

The expiry date of a respirator mask will vary across products. The following conditions can influence the expiry date of respiratory masks:

  • The type of respiratory mask you have
  • The date the mask was manufactured
  • The filters in the respiratory mask
  • The materials used to make the mask

How to store respirator masks

It is important to correctly store your respirators so that they can perform well for the user. Here is some advice on how to store your respirator masks properly:

  • Keep respirators boxed/wrapped in their packaging.
  • Avoid storing respirators in areas containing dust, sunlight, chemicals, moisture or high temperatures.
  • Regularly check the dates of your respiratory masks so that employees do not accidentally use an expired mask. 

How to use a disposable respirator mask

Wash your hands 

Before you put on your respirator mask, you should thoroughly wash your hands or apply a hand sanitiser to minimise the risk of spreading germs or dirt.

Check the mask’s condition

It is important to check the following before using a disposable respirator mask:

  • Ensure that the mask has not exceeded its expiry date.
  • Make sure that the mask has not previously been worn.
  • Check that the mask is not damaged – check for rips, tears and other signs of fault.

Conducting these checks will ensure that the mask can effectively protect you.

Ensure that the mask is the right way up 

Usually, you can tell where the top of the mask is as there is a metal band there to fit over the nose.  

Hold the outside of the respirator mask in your hand

Ensure that the top of the mask is at your fingertips.

Hold the mask to your face

With the mask still in your hand, hold the mask up to your face so that the respirator rests just under your chin and covers your nose. The bands of the mask should be hanging beneath your hand.

Pull the mask straps over your head

With one hand still holding the mask in place, use your other hand to pull the top strap to the top back of your head. You will then need to pull the bottom strap over your head and position it around the neck, just below the ears. Please make sure that your mask straps are not crossed over each other. 

Mold the mask over your nose

Using your fingertips, rub down the sides of the top part of the mask so that it molds around the shape of your nose. 

Check that the face mask is tight and secure

You can check that your respirator mask is securely sealed by placing your hands over the respirator and exhaling. If you feel any air leaking from the sides of the mask, it is not correctly fitted and should be re-adjusted accordingly. If you struggle to correctly fit the mask, you may need a different size face mask. 

Looking for respirator masks?

If you are looking for respirator masks, Manutan has got you covered! Take a look at our wide range of products and keep yourself and your staff safe in the workplace.

Lauren Warwick