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What Is a Respirator Gas Mask?

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  • Written By: Gregory Hanson
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 11 September 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A respirator gas mask is a piece of safety equipment designed specifically to protect the wearer from harmful gases and airborne chemicals. These devices use a filter cartridge to deactivate or remove dangerous chemicals and require specific filters in order to be effective against particular chemicals. Such devices are commonly used as lab and industrial safety equipment and may also be used by military or police personnel. Correct use of this type of equipment is essential in order to ensure that it functions properly and protects fully.

Respirators come in many different varieties. Typical models fit snugly over a user’s mouth and nose, and should form an airtight seal with the skin. These devices allow air to flow in only through a special filter assembly. Many models, particularly those designed to protect against chemicals that can damage or irritate skin, also include eye protection. Most dangerous substances will also cause adverse skin reactions, and full-body protection is needed to supplement the protection offered by a respirator gas mask.

Each sort of respirator protects against a particular type of hazard. A particulate respirator, such as an asbestos respirator, is designed to filter small but dangerous particles from the air. Pathogen protection is the main function of a medical respirator. A respirator gas mask specifically protects against airborne chemical agents, which must typically be neutralized and absorbed rather than filtered out.

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The most common varieties of respirator gas mask rely on the breathing of the mask’s user to draw air through the filter. This can be very taxing, and is particularly challenging for users who have any sort of difficulty breathing. Some sophisticated types of respirator gas mask use a motorized pump to draw air through the cartridge and then provide a supply of this clean air to the user of the mask.

In a respirator gas mask, the filter component of the device consists of a cartridge designed to neutralize a specific chemical hazard. These cartridges are good only against specific categories of hazard and do not offer generalized protection against all chemical hazards. A respirator gas mask filter cartridge degrades with use and offers only a limited amount of protection. In many cases, these cartridges function by using other chemicals to neutralize a particular toxin, and when the cartridge’s chemical supply is depleted, it will no longer offer protection.

Most respirator gas masks are used to provide either working protection or emergency safety protection for workers who might be exposed to dangerous chemicals on the job. Soldiers and police forces may also use these masks. Chemical weapons are banned by international law, but stockpiles do still exist in many nations, and this type of protection remains as necessary on the modern battlefield as it was during the First World War. Police forces require this sort of protection primarily when using crowd control chemical agents.

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