How can I reuse or recycle breathing machine parts?

We’ve had an email from Dee, who first asked if it’s ok for people from the US to ask questions (it sure is!), then explained:

I currently use a CPAP machine and Medicare replaces the parts fairly frequently and I am unsure what to do with the “old” parts. I mean, I know some people may have a “problem” with recycling/reusing breathing type supplies but I hate just throwing the items away when perhaps they could be sterilized and used by someone who can’t afford the supplies and may otherwise suffer with sleep apnea.

Disposable plastic medical equipment (rather than sterilisable metal) really grinds my gears but from what I’ve read, this doesn’t seem to be just throwing something away for the sake out it – CPAP machine parts seem to need replacing due to wear and tear, which reduces efficiency and you don’t really want to reduce efficiency of something that is keeping you oxygenated.

However, the second part of Dee’s question is interesting – anyone know of any organisations that collect such medical equipment? The parts might be replaced periodically whether they actually need replacing or not, just to be on the safe side, but an expert might deem them to still be reusable.

What about recycling such items? My first port of call would probably be to contact the supplier & manufacturer of the parts but does anyone have any other suggestions?

(Photo of typical CPAP mask by JoJoJo04)

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6 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle breathing machine parts?”


  1. john says:

    We went to whitby goth weekend last october where i was surprised to see a lot of people wearing modified paint spraying respirators as fashion items. the picture you have of the CPAP mask looks like if it were suitably sprayed up and had some bits of rubber hose glued onto it there would be a ready market for it among the cyber goth community.

  2. Alice says:

    Thanks to the UK National Health Service, people here basically just get given the medical supplies they need regardless of their ability to pay. Hoping that Obama has begun to make this possible in the US too!

    Cuba also has an amazing National Health Service, but they are often desperately short of supplies because of US sanctions against them. The Cuba Solidarity Campaign sends containers of supplies out to Cuba and may accept masks like these – see http://www.cuba-solidarity.org.uk/ if you’re in the UK, or start here if you’re in the USA http://www.cubasolidarity.com/ – and write to your congressman/woman!

    Personally, looking at the photo, I’m wondering if they might make a good basic thingy for inhaling the steam from some hot water and Vicks, eucalyptus oil or other decongestants when I get a cold. They’d need to be adapted a bit to catch the steam though.

  3. HS says:

    I have a cpap machine. I use the big old tubes to whip around in a continuous circle and make wind noise. Guess you could probably use some of the tubing for a tie hanger – -you know, nail it to the closet, and hang your ties there.

  4. mali marsh says:

    Very good comment Alice, I may see if I can make a mask for you that will be useful in the event you get a cold.

  5. Ruth Cherup says:

    I recently started using a c-pap machine and was told to just discard the tubing and masks when it was time to renew. I feel bad about putting them in the landfill. The supplier had no suggestions. Is there a place to recycle these materials.?

    thank you
    Ruth Cherup

  6. Elizabeth says:

    I found a way to use the hose from my CPAP machine to make a padded hanger. Take a wire coat hanger and carefully untwist below the hook to disingage it. I usually use needle nose pliers for this. Start with one end of the plastic hose and slip it over the open end of the wire and around the bends until returning to the hook area. Cut off the cap end of the hose, and align the rest of the hose to cover all the exposed hanger, then cut the other end of the hose off and reconnect the wire hanger. Waalaaaa, the perfect hanger for pants, or slippery items.



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