To obtain economical extraction of 235U in the molecular laser isotope separation (MLIS) process, 16-μm laser beams must be generated in a parahydrogen Raman cell with high repetition rates and sufficient intensity. Because the intensities of the 16-μm laser beams are dependent on the intensity of the incoming pump laser beams, the intensity of the CO2 lasers must be kept as high as possible. The maximum intensity has, however, been found to be controlled by the onset of gas breakdown in the Raman cell at too low a level for efficient Raman conversion. Through tests, the origin of gas breakdown in a 2-kHz-repetition-rate Raman cell is identified as particle contamination. The effect of the degree of contamination is determined and compared with experimental results. Conditions are set and modifications implemented on the Raman cell to ensure efficient Raman conversion.