Types of Respirator Cartridges: Which 3M Cartridge is Right for My Job?

Posted by Justin McCarter on Sep 26th 2012

We have lots of folks who call us asking which is the correct 3M respirator cartridge for their job. It's not always easy to know. 3M alone has more than 20 cartridges and filters for different types of work. We'd like to start breaking down the different uses each of these products, and we will start with some of the most popular.

Which Respirator Filter is Right for My Application?

All of the cartridges we'll discuss are filled with activated charcoal. Each has slightly different characteristics, so let's discuss which solution is best for the types of tasks you may encounter. We'll start with the 6001 organic vapor cartridge. This is a respirator cartridge that absorbs lots of bad smells as well as vapors from things like solvents.

Solvents are often used in painting. They are present when you are using turpentine, paint thinner, and lacquer thinner. They are also present, and in quite heavy concentrations, when using adhesives such as rubber cement or the popular E6000 glue.

People doing boat work often use this cartridge because it picks up the vapors from things like epoxy resin, 5200 adhesive, penetrating epoxy, and bottom paint.

Another popular choice for respirator protection are the 3M 6006 Multi-Gas Respirator Cartridges. These cartridges have been treated to trap and absorbs acid gases along with the organic vapors. The most common form of acid gas that folks generally come in contact with are from chlorine. But the category also includes things like formaldehyde and sulfur dioxide.

The 6006 multi-gas cartridge is what you want to use, or give your employees, if they are using multiple solvents or cleaners. It helps reduce the risk that you will pick the wrong cartridge for the job. Some jobs require workers to use Tilex, for example, but there may by Goof-Off or Acetone being used on the job site as well. These products give off strong odors, but they work great. If you or your employees are going to be exposed to them for an extended period of time, a 3M 6006 cartridge will trap those vapors and make working in the space a heck of a lot more comfortable. This is also the solution if you are working in a lab and there are formaldehyde vapors plus other noxious smells, the charcoal is able to pick up the added smells and vapors.

Finally we have the big daddy - the 3M 60926 Multi Gas/P100 Cartridge. This is a multi-gas cartridge that is also fit with a P-100 filter. This is going to protect against a wide variety of vapors and other strong smells while also filtering the fine particles from the air.

The 60926 protects against the widest variety of dangers to the lungs. However there is a cost for all this protection. Both in terms of actual cost - it's about twice as much as a regular cartridge - and because each breath will be more difficult because it needs to be pulled through so much more material. Users have found they tire easily with this set-up.

So while we don't generally recommend this cartridge except for folks that are heading into a place with multiple hazards, it is a fairly comprehensive cartridge, and protects against a number of respiratory dangers.

Thanks for reading. Please give us a ring, or contact us online at if you have more questions.


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