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Asbestos in Gas Masks


Everyone knows the advantages {that a} prop could deliver to a trainer in a historical past lesson to help college students with the training course of as they get to bodily see and really feel the merchandise themselves to get a greater understanding of what the trainer is explaining. However when the topic is WWII this may very well be a probably hazardous topic to each college students and academics, particularly if the merchandise of that interval is a WWII Masks.

Why would a WWII Fuel Masks be harmful?

WWII gasoline masks are probably harmful as they’ll include and launch asbestos fibres. They will also be contaminated with dangerous chemical compounds from earlier use in gasoline drills. As well as some put up struggle gasoline masks can launch asbestos fibres and might be contaminated.

Exams have proven that asbestos fibres might be inhaled by sporting the masks. Asbestos fibres will also be launched from dealing with the masks, filters or carrying bag.

So why use asbestos in gasoline masks?

After the widespread use of poison gasoline within the Nice Warfare it was anticipated that gasoline would even be a significant factor in WWII so civilians in addition to navy personnel have been supplied with gasoline masks.

What number of gasoline masks have been produced and what varieties of asbestos have been used?

It’s troublesome to place an actual quantity on what number of of those asbestos containing gasoline masks have been manufactured however to place it in perspective one firm in Blackburn, Lancashire had a contract from the federal government in 1936 to make 70 million and manufacturing continued all through the struggle.

There have been two major varieties of asbestos used throughout the manufacture of those gasoline masks: Chrysotile (white asbestos) for civilian respirators and Crocidolite (blue asbestos) for these equipping the armed forces. The well being dangers related to these masks solely got here to gentle post-war when manufacturing unit staff making the masks began exhibiting abnormally excessive numbers of deaths from most cancers.

Why is asbestos harmful?

The Well being & Security Government web site warns: “Inhaling air containing asbestos fibres can result in asbestos-related diseases, primarily cancers of the lungs and chest lining. Asbestos is barely a threat to well being if asbestos fibres are launched into the air and breathed in. Previous publicity to asbestos presently kills round 4,000 folks a 12 months in Nice Britain. This quantity is anticipated to go on rising no less than till 2016.

There isn’t a remedy for asbestos-related illnesses. There’s often an extended delay between first publicity to asbestos and the onset of illness. This will fluctuate from 15 to 60 years.”

What ought to a college or a collector do in the event that they personal considered one of these Asbestos containing Fuel Masks?

The native authority must be contacted for recommendation on tips on how to safely get rid of the masks, filters and the canvas luggage. In 2004 the Imperial Warfare Museum had issued the next steerage to their employees:

“Most British gasoline masks of WW2 classic have asbestos (blue and/or white) as a element of their filters… The place uncertain, it must be assumed that the filters do include asbestos till confirmed in any other case. The filters could, in any case, include different respiratory irritants. Thus no gasoline masks of WW2 classic ought to ever be worn.


There’s a additional well being and security subject with gasoline masks which have been uncovered to chemical compounds eg utilized in ‘reside’ gasoline checks and drills. Such gasoline masks shouldn’t be dealt with and shouldn’t go on show. They need to be sealed in polyethylene luggage (no less than two layers) or an hermetic inert container. This must be carried out in a fume cabinet, while sporting latex or nitrile gloves and a lab coat. The gloves must be disposed of and the lab coat disposed of/laundered after use. The enclosures must be labelled to point that they include supplies which might be probably hazardous and shouldn’t be opened. Any additional enclosures that they’re positioned into, eg bins, must be acceptable labelled as described above.

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