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3M/Racal PAPR Filter and Battery Alert

NIOSH Respirator User Notice

Issue Date: June 12, 1998

Subject: 3M/Racal PAPR Filter and Battery Alert

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has recently been informed of potential problems with the NIOSH-approved 3M/Racal model AH5, AH15, and AH21 Airstream Dust/Mist helmet systems. These powered air purifying respirators (PAPR) are approved under TC-21C-197 (model AH5) and TC-21C-211 (models AH15 and AH21). These problems include defects in some Racal Part No. 60-23-16R05 filters and the Racal Part No. 520-01-02R01 battery packs.

The 3M Co. has initiated a product recall due to a defect in distributed filters (Racal Part No. 60-23-16R05) that may result in the filter not passing the NIOSH filtration efficiency requirements. The defect involves an incorrect welding of a plastic sleeve to the filtering material. The incorrect weld results in a hole that allows for a path for unfiltered air to enter the PAPR helmet. Eleven manufacturing date codes were provided by 3M for the defective filters they have identified to be involved in the recall. The filters can be identified by date codes G01 through G11. The defect in the filters can be easily identified with a visual inspection for any separation of the filter material and the plastic sleeve for attaching the filter to the blower unit. The filter part number and date code are printed on the plastic sleeve.

The 3M Co. has also determined that the Racal Part No. 520-01-02R01 battery packs have not been manufactured in conformance with the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) intrinsic safety approval. Also, 3M Co. has determined that the Racal battery packs are no longer classified as intrinsically safe by Underwriters Laboratories. 3M Co. has notified users that immediate action and consideration should be given regarding the use of the AH15 and AH21 batteries where intrinsic safety is required. 3M has also reported that redesigned battery packs are being made available. MSHA is evaluating the redesigned battery pack for intrinsic safety.

NIOSH is informing users that 3M/Racal PAPRs with the Racal Part No. 520-01-02R01 battery pack, other battery packs with unauthorized changes, or a defective Racal Part No. 60-23-16R05 filter are not in conformance with the MSHA/NIOSH approvals for the PAPRs (TC-21C-197 and TC-21C-211) and therefore are not considered to be MSHA/NIOSH approved devices.

Although MSHA does not consider the unauthorized changes to the Racal Part No. 520-01-02R01 battery pack to represent an intrinsic safety hazard, MSHA does support the 3M replacement program to replace all battery packs in the field with approved battery packs. MSHA will be providing additional information to the mining community concerning the use of the battery pack.

NIOSH recommends all users to inspect all Racal Part No. 60-23-16R05 filters in their possession for the presence of defective welds between the plastic sleeve and the filtering material, and also to comply with the 3M filter recall program affecting all filters with date codes G01 through G11. Users should advise NIOSH and 3M Co. of any defective filters identified with date codes other than G01 through G11.

If you have any questions, please contact MSHA at 304-547-0400 or NIOSH at 1-800-35NIOSH.