The results of several observations and experiments indicate that the decay of organic material inside and outside of sediment traps in the deep ocean is on the order of 0.1-1.0% day. These results must be considered when using sediment traps to determine the flux of organic material through the water column. The effectiveness of poisons in traps has not been adequately determined since the concentration of poisons in traps has not been monitored. Even traps containing poison may lose organic matter through leaching or from rapid grazing. A model is presented to quantify the loss of organic carbon at different decay rates and to determine optimum length of trap deployments.