Disposable Respirator Stockpile Maintenance Program
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  • Disposable Respirator Stockpile Maintenance Program

    Whether you're managing a healthcare coalition, a business continuity program in the private sector or assuring your emergency preparedness plans are up-to-date, 3M has solutions to help you achieve your mission. From purchase to disposal to future inventory management, 3M wants to help support you every step of the way with end-user rebates, sustainable disposal options and inventory management tools.


Managing stockpile program inventories for a major health care enterprise or government organization is a complex and time-consuming task. If your emergency preparedness plan includes inventories of 3M™ Disposable Respirators, a new program from 3M can help make your job easier, manage shelf life expiration dates and may even help reduce your costs of your respiratory protection devices.

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  • Program Overview

    Want to save time and money?

    From purchase to disposal to future inventory management, 3M wants to help support Emergency Preparedness Managers and Public Health Officials every step of the way. End-user rebates, sustainable disposal options and inventory management tools will benefit your emergency response plan.

    Download Brochure

  • Disposal Solutions

    Sustainability Options and Disposal Solutions

    Did you know your disposable respirators have a shelf life? Why let your expired respirators go to waste? Check out these sustainable disposal options for 3M™ N95 Disposable Respirators.

    Download Brochure

  • Do more with less

    Do more with less

    3M helps you manage your PPE better, recycle old and expired PPE, and helps optimize your preparedness spending.

    See how.

    View Video


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Frequently Asked Questions: 3M Health Care Particulate Respirator and Surgical Masks

Storage Conditions and Shelf Life

  • Why is 3M adding shelf life information for the 3M Health Care Particulate Respirator and Surgical Masks* 1805/1805S, 1860/1860S, 1870, 1870+?

    The addition of shelf life information to our 3M NIOSH-approved respirators is a way to communicate to our customers the storage conditions and potential longevity of our respirators. Traditionally the life cycle of these respirators commonly used in health care workplace applications, from date of manufacture to use by the customer, has been short in duration as they are disposable. However, with the increased attention to respirator stockpiling, many customers have requested information on storage conditions and shelf life. We hope that by adding this information to the respirator packaging it will encourage our customers to employ good practices such as appropriate long term storage, rotation of stock and inventory management.


    In the United States, per 29 CFR 1910.134, OSHA has required that respirators be stored in the original packaging and away from contaminated areas, dust, sun light, extreme temperatures, excessive moisture and damaging chemicals. Canada’s CSA Standard Z94.4 has a similar requirement.


    *models that are both NIOSH approved N95 filtering facepiece respirators and FDA cleared as a surgical mask.

  • What 3M Health Care Particulate Respirator and Surgical Masks have a shelf life?

    The 3M Health Care Particulate Respirator and Surgical Mask models 1860/1860S, 1870, 1870+ have an established 5 year shelf life when respirators are stored in their original packaging within climatic conditions ranging from -4°F (-20°C) to +86°F (+30°C) and not exceeding 80% RH.


    Note –the process for establishing shelf life for 1805/1805S models is in progress.


  • Why does the packaging for some 3M Health Care respirators have shelf life information and other respirator packaging does not?

    The transition to updated packaging/labeling in relation to the storage conditions and shelf life has been initiated. However, for a period of time, you may see product packaging in the marketplace with and without storage condition and shelf life information included/incorporated.


  • How is the respirator’s shelf life communicated?

    The shelf life information is usually found on the side or bottom of the primary box. Storage conditions are included in the instructions for use (IFU). The shelf life for the health care NIOSH-approved respirators is in the form of a “use by” date such as “Use by YYYY/MM/DD” (year/month/day) and should be located near the hourglass icon. This information is also located on the label of the shipper case or corrugated box. An explanation of the icons and additional information regarding shelf life and storage conditions can be found in the IFU provided with the respirator. Please refer to the respirator packaging as shelf life is specific to each model.


  • What happens if storage conditions are not met?

    3M’s goal is to help our customers ensure that filtering facepiece respirators stored for extended periods of time will meet the performance requirements to which they were approved and function as intended. When establishing a shelf life, 3M takes into account the filter media as well as the component parts of the respirator such as the strap and any staples. Therefore, we are confident that the respirators will meet performance requirements when the identified conditions are met.


    However, when respirators are maintained outside of the established storage conditions, 3M cannot ensure that the respirators will meet performance requirements. In this event, many different kinds of changes can occur to the respirator including cosmetic changes and degradation of components such as headbands, nose foam and nose clips. Examples of cosmetic changes include discoloration of materials. Examples of degradation include crumbling of nose foam or breaking of headbands.


    It is always critical that the respirator be inspected and a user seal check be conducted by the wearer per the IFU. If the person wearing the respirator cannot achieve a proper seal the respirator should not be used. Even for respirators within the stated shelf life and storage conditions, the respirator should be disposed of immediately upon observation of damaged or missing parts.

  • How do we know when not to use the respirator?

    First refer to the packaging for a “use by” date. 3M’s recommendation is that respirators be disposed of after the stated use by date. Always inspect the respirator and conduct a user seal check before use per the IFU. If the person wearing the respirator cannot achieve a proper seal, then the respirator should not be used. Even for respirators within the stated shelf life, the respirator should be disposed of immediately upon observation of damaged or missing parts.


    For those respirators that have established shelf life but which packaging is not yet marked with a “use by” date, 3M recommends they no longer be used if 5 years has passed since the date of manufacture.

  • If the respirator is not marked with shelf life information, how can I determine the age of the respirator?

    For respirators that are not currently labeled with shelf life information, the date of manufacture can be determined from the label or printed information located on the primary box as well as the shipper case or corrugated box. For assistance in interpreting the date of manufacture, please call 3M Health Care Helpline at 1-800-228-3957 if in the U.S. In Canada call 1-800-563-2921. Other countries please contact your local 3M office.


  • Is it OK to exceed storage conditions and, if so, for how long?

    It is recognized that recommended storage conditions may be exceeded for short periods of time during transportation. This has been accounted for in the shelf life determination. However, storage outside the recommended conditions should be avoided when possible.


  • Should the respirator be disposed of after the shelf life has expired?

    3M’s recommendation is that the respirator be disposed of after the stated use by date has expired.


  • Will all 3M respirators have the same shelf-life?

    No, not all 3M respirators will have the same shelf life. In making shelf life determinations, 3M takes into account the filter media as well as the components of the respirator. Components vary from model to model.


  • Will 3M take back respirators that have reached the end of their stated shelf life?

    No, 3M will not accept returns of respirators on the basis of shelf life.


Featured Resources

  • Masks vs. Respirators. Know the difference.

    Not all masks are the same. There is a clear difference between a mask and a respirator. Do you have the proper respiratory protection? 3M Health Care Particulate Respirators and Surgical Masks provide you the respiratory protection you desire. Every day you put yourself at risk to ensure your patients are cared for. Make sure you are taking care of yourself as well by selecting the proper respiratory PPE.

    Know the difference. Get a Sample

  • Establishing a Respiratory Program

    Step-by-step tools to help ensure safety programs achieve their respiratory safety goals. As the safety administrator, running a successful respiratory protection program means navigating a maze of regulations and anticipating hazards. Consider us your resource. Whenever you are in the process, we can help guide you to the information and details you need.

    Visit the 3M Center for Respiratory Protection

  • Why clock out to get checked out?

    Medical evaluation of the employee is required for mandatory use of all respirators or voluntary use of reusable respirators. Online medical evaluations are a convenient way to fulfill this requirement, since employees can complete them without having to travel to see a physician (unless a follow-up is necessary). 3M offers an online medical evaluation that meets the OSHA criteria. It can be completed at work and processed typically within hours, providing fast notification of results and clearance letters from a PLHCP via fax or email.

    Learn More


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