Gas masks are common and popular types of respiratory protection devices. They are designed to provide clean air and to filter impure air and dangerous types of gases. These masks are often worn by men and women who work in hazardous areas that are contaminated with harmful gases and vapors. The military and riot police who are working in battle zones and others who are subject to chemical warfare are some other examples of people who use gas masks for respiratory protection. Pilots who fly at very high altitudes and mountaineers also use special gas masks.
There are various styles of gas masks such as the half mask and the full-face mask that comes with eye protection. The masks are generally made out of tight-fitting plasticor rubber sheets and have an air purifying filter, canister or cartridge built into them. Some devices are connected to air tanks, which are attached on the back of the mask. However, a gas mask does not require a separate supply of oxygen.
Most gas masks that are designed to fit on the chin with the breathing hose covering the nose and mouth and forming a tight seal are called the "chin type". Since hazardous gases such as ammonia can cause intense eye irritation and burning, tightly fitted safety goggles are also generally used if there is no eye protection attached to the gas mask. If you are wearing a full face gas mask, make sure that you can see out of it properly.
All of these respiratory protection devices have a limited life as either the filter or cartridge eventually chokes up or the air that is in the cartridge runs out. Gas masks are very important articles of safety gear and protective equipment and should be tested for cracks and holes before they are used. If they are damaged in any way and leak, it could prove to be fatal. The mask should fit you properly or it won't form a seal around your nose and mouth and harmful air and vapors may be breathed in.
Gas masks have been around since the 1700s when early forms of them were worn by miners. In World War 1, many armies started to wear gas masks to protect themselves against chlorine gas attacks. As chemical and biological warfare have developed, so has the gas mask, as there are no many more types of agents and radioactive dusts to protect against. However, many of these against can penetrate a person's body through the skin, and a gas mask isn't able to provide protection against this, so a full body suit or chemical suit is usually needed.
Because there are so many types of gas masks available it's essential that you use the right type for the kind of gas you are trying to protect yourself against. You must remember that a gas mask is not a guarantee of safety and you need to fully understand how to use one and what it is capable of doing.