Gas Mask – Everything You Should Know

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The gas mask is a device to protect respiratory organs, eyes, and a person's face against toxic and radioactive substances, bacterial agents, and other dangerous dirt in the air in the form of steam, gas, or aerosol. Gas masks are classified by their method of protection as filtering masks, whose action is based on decontamination or filtration of harmful impurities from the air inspired, and oxygen masks, which completely isolate the respiratory organs from the environment (the air breathed is regenerated in the cartridge of the gas mask).

Filtration gas masks in the form of multilayered gauze bandages soaked with special solutions for protection against chlorine and phosgene appeared during World War I, but they were not effective against other toxic agents. In 1915 the Russian chemist N. D. Zelinskii invented the world’s first dry filtering gas mask with activated charcoal and a rubber mask. In 1916 this gas mask was adopted by the Russian and Allied armies.

Dry gas masks soon appeared in the armies of other countries. The present-day filtering gas mask consists of a canister, a facepiece (helmet), and a carrier (pouch). As it is inspired, the contaminated air enters the canister. Aerosols are removed in the aerosol filter, and vapours and gases are removed in the layer (chemical absorber) of activated charcoal.

The air decontaminated in the canister passes through the connecting tube under the facepiece of the mask. The facepiece consists of a rubber helmet-mask with goggles and a valve unit. The gas mask set includes means to prevent the goggles from steaming up. In the winter, insulating packing is mounted on the eyepiece rings of the helmet-mask. The mask can be used for an extended period of time and weighs about 2 kg.

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