Electrostatic Respirator Filter Media: Filter Efficiency and Most Penetrating Particle Size Effects

New electrostatic filter media has been developed for use in 42 CFR 84 negative pressure particulate respirator filters. This respirator filter media was not available for evaluation prior to the change from 30 CFR 11 to 42 CFR 84. Thus, characterization of this filter media is warranted. In this study, the new 42 CFR 84 electrostatic respirator filters were investigated with respect to filter penetration and most penetrating particle size. Three different models of N95 filters, along with one model each of the N99, R95, and P100 class filters were used in this study. First, three of each filter were loaded with a sodium chloride (NaCl) aerosol, and three of each filter were loaded with a dioctyl phthalate (DOP) aerosol to obtain normal background penetration results for each filter. Then, two new filters of each type were dipped in isopropanol for 15 seconds and allowed to dry. This isopropanol dip should reduce or eliminate any electrostatic charge on the fibers of each filter, as reported in the technical literature. These dipped filters, along with controls of each filter type, were tested on a TSI 8160 filter tester to determine the most penetrating particle size. These same filters were then tested against a NaCl aerosol to get final penetration values. Electret filters rely heavily on their electrostatic charge to provide adequate filter efficiencies, and correlations between penetration and a filter?s electrostatic characteristics are found in the technical literature. In all six of the filter models tested, filter penetration values increased considerably and the most penetrating particle size noticeably shifted toward larger particles. These results are important in better understanding how these new filter materials perform under various conditions, and they indicate the need for additional research to define environmental conditions that may affect electrostatic filter efficiency.

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