The gas mask is a piece of equipment worn to protect the wearer against dangerous gases, vapors and other particles. The most common use is for protection against chemical warfare agents and toxic industrial chemicals, although they are also used by police and first responders for riot control situations. The mask consists of a protective plastic face shield, with a filter that can be changed to suit the situation. The masks are designed to be worn with other protective clothing, such as protective suits and eyewear.
The most basic and simplest gas masks are made of a hard plastic face shield, fitted with a simple filter. These are inexpensive, effective and easy to use, but they don’t offer as much protection as other types of masks. The most advanced gas masks have a more complex filter that can be adjusted to fit the wearer’s breathing pattern. They are more expensive, but they can provide better protection and allow for greater ease of movement.
These masks are referred to as self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) and require a separate air tank, which makes them heavy (30 pounds or more), difficult to transport and maintain, and only last about an hour when in use. They can also be uncomfortable and claustrophobic to wear for long periods, and are only effective against higher concentrations of hazardous chemicals.
A group of senior airmen from the 87th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron in Florida has repurposed an old Army battle tank system to turn the standard M-50 gas mask into one that can be worn in aircraft. They built the new system using off-the-shelf parts and two components printed on a 3D printer purchased with their own money. They call their creation AERPS Ultra, and it is being tested for military use.