Gas masks are devices worn over the face to protect the wearer from inhaling potentially harmful agents in the air, be it gas or dirt. A typical gas mask covers the nose and mouth, although there are some that cover the eyes, as well. The gas mask is the product of several years of development.
Not One Person Invented the Gas Mask
Lewis Haslett patented a version of the gas mask in 1849. Haslett's invention functioned as an air-purifying respirator. John Stenhouse invented a gas mask filled with charcoal to hold large volumes of gas in 1854. John Tyndall came up with a fireman's respirator in 1871. Samuel Barton made a more elaborate device around 1874, and George Neally designed a "smoke-excluding mask" in 1877. Innovations continued into the 20th century, as Louis Muntz invented a gas mask with full-head covering, and inventors like Henry Fleuss and Garrett Morgan came up with rubberised or tube-featuring ones.
There Are Different Kinds of Gas Masks
There are four types of gas masks. The half-mask air-purifying respirator covers only the nose and mouth, thus leaving the eyes vulnerable. Its full-face counterpart does protect the eyes as well, however, which it achieves with the use of see-through material to cover the face. The supplied-air respirator utilises a battery-operated canister with a fan to push in purified air. The self-contained breathing apparatus, or SCBA, is considered the most effective gas mask since it has an air tank that contains high-pressure purified air, thus being able to provide constant positive pressure to the mask.
Gas Masks Require Great Maintenance
Keep the gas mask in the box it came with or any box that is virtually airtight. Place the box in a cool place, where it cannot get any exposure to strong light. It should also be kept away from fire. Such exposure will ruin the material used to make the mask, thus greatly reducing its protection capabilities.
Gas Masks Should Be Worn Properly
To put on a gas mask, hold it by the side straps with the thumbs placed underneath and the interior of the mask's window facing you. Then lift it to your face as you push your chin forward and draw the straps over the top of your head as far as possible to properly adjust them. Removing the mask would require you to insert the thumb under the buckle at the back of your head, then pull it forward over the top of your head to lower the mask downward from the face.
Gas Masks Are Not Just for War
Gas masks are also used in industries and laboratories---basically, anywhere in which there is routine exposure to harmful agents.
Gas Masks Alone Are Not Enough Against Harm
Some gas masks have spaces where air from outside can get in, thus introducing chemicals and germs. The only assurance of full protection is wearing an SCBA and an accompanying suit that covers the entire body and seals it airtight.