A gas mask protects the wearer by forming a sealed cover over the nose and mouth. It can also cover other vulnerable parts of the face like the eyes. The mask provides protection from a variety of harmful gases and chemicals including chemical warfare agents, toxic industrial chemicals, biological weapons and nuclear fallout.
A gas-mask wearer is protected only if the mask is properly fitted and worn correctly. The seal must be tight enough to prevent contaminated air from leaking around the edges of the mask. It should also be free of facial hair, long sideburns and other obstructions that can interfere with a tight fit. It is important that the wearer receive training before using a gas mask, so they understand how to properly donning, doffing and use the system.
The 87th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron is testing a new automated gas-mask fit testing kiosk. The machine uses Controlled Negative Pressure technology that directly measures respiratory leakage, compared to the current Condensation Nucleus Counter method. The Air Force Medical Readiness Agency has partnered with Memorial University to develop the new technology, which is being deployed by the 87th OMR for the first time this year.
It is vital that a gas mask be stored in a dark, cool, dust-free place with no sudden temperature changes. The rubber parts must be kept away from fuels, solvents and lubricants and stored dry. Potassium iodide tablets should be stored in the mask with their foil intact. A mask should be inspected regularly to ensure that it is still fully functional and properly fitting.