The gas mask is a protective device worn on the face to reduce exposure to harmful gases and toxins. It is a common piece of equipment for soldiers, police officers, firemen and emergency workers. The gas mask is the most important piece of personal safety equipment and should be part of every survival kit. It offers protection against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear contaminants.
During World War I, the principal medical officer of the 1st Newfoundland Regiment named Dr. Cluny Macpherson was responsible for the invention of the first modern gas mask. It was designed for the use of the Allies against chlorine gas, which was used as a weapon by German forces in the Battle of Ypres. Many Allied soldiers died because of this deadly gas, having been unprepared for it.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) virus is spread through air-borne droplets or spray, which means that wearing a mask can significantly reduce the risk of infection . The COVID-19 airborne particles and respiratory fluid droplets have an aerodynamic size of 100 to 800 nm, making them well within the filtering capability of N95, P100 FFR, and PARR masks.
Masks are currently undergoing extensive research and development. The development of fabrics with outstanding filtration efficiency, permeability and pore connectivity, as well as thermal comfort during use are constant pursuits. In addition, a better understanding of the influence of external factors on mask performance is crucial to improving the safety of the public in a future pandemic.