What is a Respirator Cartridge?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 14 September 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
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A respirator cartridge is a replaceable component of a respirator filter, designed to trap particulates and be replaced when it clogs or no longer functions. Respirator cartridges can also be designed to trap different kinds of hazards, allowing people to change cartridges for different environments. These respirator supplies are available from companies that make and sell respirators including medical, construction, and scientific supply companies. It is important to select a respirator cartridge designed to work with a specific respirator product to ensure smooth operation.

Respirators are designed to supply clean air to a person in an environment where the air is hazardous to breathe because of chemicals, particulates, and other sources of pollution. They are required by law in some settings, such as biological research facilities where people work with hazardous organisms, and are strongly recommended in others to protect the airways from hazards ranging from sawdust to soot.

The respirator cartridge fits into the filter on the front of the respirator. Filters can snap or slide open, depending on design, allowing people to reject contaminated cartridges and insert fresh ones. The filters may have indicators to alert the wearer when they are near the end of their lifetime, a feature designed to encourage people to replace a respirator cartridge as soon as it is no longer working properly, and before it clogs, preventing air from entering the respirator.


Cartridges have different ratings, depending on the conditions they are designed for. Most filter out particulates from the air, and they can be designed for specific settings like areas where people are working with chemicals and gases, where fumes are an issue. The packaging for the respirator cartridge should provide indications about its usage and some companies color code or stamp the cartridges themselves to make it easier for people to identify the right cartridge for a given application.

Costs for these components vary. Some are very expensive while others may be cheaper, depending on the settings they are designed for. Bulk discount rates may be available from some companies and the cost of respirator cartridges and other safety supplies is a legitimate business expense when these devices are used in the workplace, making it a tax-deductible expense. For individuals who need respirators for home improvement projects and other tasks, it is sometimes possible to get free respirators and cartridges from public health organizations. In addition, construction suppliers sometimes may hand out supplies to customers free of charge with certain purchases to encourage people to use airway protection when working with hazardous substances.



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