Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 1993;19(6):421-425    pdf

doi:10.5271/sjweh.1452

Microbial growth on respirator filters from improper storage.

by Pasanen AL, Keinanen J, Kalliokoski P, Martikainen PI, Ruuskanen J

Microbiological contamination and particle penetration were studied in two respirator filters with high efficiency. Microbial growth in filter materials during storage under conditions and the passing of microorganisms through the filters were particularly examined. Filters with different fiberglass and cellulose proportions were loaded in environments containing high microbial levels and incubated at a relative humidity of 98%. Particle penetration through loaded and incubated filters and carbon, nitrogen and microbial content were measured. After incubation, considerable particle penetration and the passing of fungal spores were observed for filters composed mainly of cellulose, probably because of humid conditions, which stimulated fungi to grow and extend mycelia and spores through the filter. Microbial activity, microorganism concentrations, and the chemical properties of the filter materials also supported this hypothesis. Storing used respirators in humid environments may result in heavy microbial contamination of the filters, especially if the filter material is biodegradable by microorganisms.