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Improving occupational health

12 May 2015

3M has launched a new product to help prevent workers from being exposed to certain harmful organic gases and vapours.

The diversified technology company revealed its Organic Gas and Vapour End of Service Life Indicator Filters – for use across a vast variety of industries – at the International Occupational Hygiene Association (IOHA) conference in London on Tuesday 28 April.

According to 3M, the product is the first of its kind and is designed to pave the way for improved occupational health by giving respirator wearers a clear warning of when they need to change their filters and prevent hazardous exposure.

Currently, some users change their filters only when they can detect contaminant odour, taste, or irritation inside the respirator, with the result that the harmful substance has already broken through.

To combat this problem, 3M’s new innovation has incorporated the company’s End of Service Life Indicator (ESLI) technology. The ESLI is located inside the filter next to the activated carbon. As organic vapours travel through the filter, they are also adsorbed into the ESLI.

As this happens, the indicator changes colour, visually marking the course of the organic vapours through the filter. Dependant on the viewing angle, the user will either see a red bar on a green background, or vice-versa. Once the bar reaches the end-of-service line, the filter will need replacing.

The ESLI can be used as either a primary or secondary method of determining a filter change out schedule, depending upon the specific hazard and exposure level. It also enables health and safety managers to audit filter status in real-time for each individual user – which has not been possible until now.

Jennifer Raymond, senior marketing executive at 3M, said: "Our revolutionary product will help to improve the safety of workers using respirators in appropriate environments.

"The innovative technology behind the Organic Gas and Vapour End of Service Life Indicator Filters enables wearers to know when they need to replace their filter, without waiting until the breakthrough point.”

The products are compatible with all 3M half and full-face masks, so they can be used in a variety of applications and industries.