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January 2017



The History Of Gas Mask Design

Article by Supergum Innovation Team, Illai Gescheit, January 15, 2017.


The threat of a biological or chemical attack is realistic today more than ever. We all do not want anything to happen, and want to stay safe and have the right solutions to protect us and our families if such a horrible attack occurs.

Supergum is a leader in developing and designing technological solutions for protecting both civilian population and military forces from biological and chemical attacks. Governments and militaries from around the globe are working in collaboration with us to design the most advanced products to protect their military and civilians.

We believe that in order to design and push the limits of technology in the CBRN industry we must also understand the history of the gas protection products. Let's us take you for a journey in time of the gas mask design evolution.


The history of invention of the Gas Mask

Doctor's Plague Mask

Although it was not literally a gas mask, the first idea of a gas mask was introduced as the Doctor's plague mask. The plague mask was designed for medical physician who treated victims of the plague. These doctors rarely cured any patients, but rather got a count of the number of people who were contaminated for demographic purposes. In order to protect themselves they wore a bird-like mask which was filed with aromatic herbs. The masks were designed to protect them from putrid air, which was known as the cause of infection.

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Smoke protective device, 1823

The Smoke protective aparatus, was created by John Dean in 1823. He wanted to rescue his horses, and had to go through the fire. He created a protective suit which was composed of a knight-armor helmet, with a hose connected to a fire brigade water pump. The initial purpose of their invention was intended for use in areas with smoke. Then the invention was pivoted to an underwater device.

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Carcoal Air Filter, 1854

John Stenhouse inventd the Carcoal Air filter. He created a mask with a copper frame. It included two hemispheres with powdered wood charcoal in between. The mask was worn on the user's head and surrounded by the two strips.

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Samuel Barton's Respirator, 1874

The Samuel Barton Respirator was the first that included a rubber and medal hood structure. It inluded two eyepieces made out of glass. The filter was located in front. The design was of a metal canister and contained lime, glycerin-soaked cotton wool and charcoal.

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Smoke Excluding Mask, 1877

The Samuel Barton Respirator was the first that included a rubber and medal hood structure. It inluded two eyepieces made out of glass. The filter was located in front. The design was of a metal canister and contained lime, glycerin-soaked cotton wool and charcoal.

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Fleuss Apparatus, 1878

The Fleuss apparatus

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Loeb's Respirator, 1891

The German inventor Bernhard Loeb, created a mask that is integrated with the respiration system. The protective mask had a triple chambared metal canister which allowed the user to have fresh air directly from a tube which entered the user's mouth.

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Muntz Respirator, 1902

This configuration of gas mask does resemble to the hood masks we know today. It incudes a whole-face hood, with two eye glass views. The filter is located near the mouth area, and includes a sponge and a Carbon-based filter.

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Safety Hood and Smoke Protector, Garret A. Morgan, 1912

Morgan designed hiw Safety hood from cotton, and included respiration tube which elongated to the bottom floor. The idea was to respire clean air found at the floor level while attending an area with a lot of smoke.

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Hypo helmet or British Smoke Hood, 1915

The Hypo helmet was developed by Dr. Cluny MacPherson of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. It was inpired by seeing a German Soldier putting a bag over his head due to a gas attack. The configuration was a simple Khaki-coloured flannel bag soaked in hypo solution (glycerin and sodium thiosulphate). There was no respiration inlet, yet a small valve to allow visibility.

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GM-15 (Gummimaske), 1916

The GM-15 gas mask was one of the first in a series of gas mask which were manufactured for military use by the German military in WWI. It included a mask made of rubber and a filter. The filter contained diatomite impregnated with a 40% solution of potash, powdered over with active carbon.

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Dustbowl masks, c. 1935

The dustball mask was a civilian mask which was designed mostly for children and women to wear during the eight year in which there were many dust storms in Southern plains in the US. What differentiate this mask from most military masks are that it did not cover the entire facial area. The mask included a filter and protected the user from the ubiquitous dust particles (not chemical and biological threats).

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Finnish civilian gas mask, 1939

The Finnish civiian gas mask is very similar to what we know today as the "black gas mask". It is made of rubber, includes two outlets for visibility. There is a connection for a filter which filters air to allow clean air into the mask volume. The user wears the mask as it covers the entire head. The user can tighten it with a strap. Usability lacks in that there is no airflow and humidit and heat which is generated within the head area might affect the user comfort.

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British civilian gas mask, 1941

The British civilian gas mask was introduced in the early times of WWII, fearing posion gas attacks. The British civi defense distributed these gas masks to civilians. These masks were designed for elderly and respiratory ill people.

Disney Children Gas Mask, 1942

The Disney Children Gas Mask was manufactured and designed by the Sun Rubber Products Company. This design was approved by the Walt Disney Compnay. The design was to protect Children in the US during the WWII.

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Civilian Black Gas Mask, 1991-present

During the Gulf War, Israel was attacked by the Sadam Husein Regime. The attack was with missiles which were intended to spread biological and chemical threats. In an unprecedented decision, the Israeli government decided to equip civilian with protective black masks.

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The Hood Gas Mask, 2016

After the Gulf War and the extensive use of gas masks which was done by Israeli population, Supergum along with academia, the military and the government of Israel joined forces to learn from the process and advance. We developed the hood concept which is much comfortable and gives better protection including people with different dimensions, facial hair and the like

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See the latest advancements in CBRN


Source for this timeline:

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