This gas mask dates from World War II
when the British government gave everyone gas masks as protection against possible poison gas
attacks by the Germans. This gas mask is for an adult.
It is made of black rubber with a plastic eyepiece and a filter
made of a perforated
tin can containing a block of asbestos
. Asbestos is a chemical substance that can absorb poisonous gases. When worn, the air breathed in would pass through the asbestos, which would filter out dangerous gases so that the wearer could breathe safely. Three straps hold the mask securely on the head and the rubber fits snugly round the wearer's face to prevent fumes leaking into the mask.
Inside the carrying box there is a label that gives instructions on wearing the mask. The user is told to:
- Hold respirator by the straps.
- Put on the mask by first putting chin into the facepiece, and then drawing the straps over the head. Adjust straps to obtain close but comfortable fit.
- Take off by pulling the straps over the head from the back.
Each gas mask came with a carrying case so that people could take them wherever they went. The label on this box shows that it came from the 'Borough of Hendon, ARP, Central Division'. The owner's name and address were written on the label so that the gas mask could be returned if lost. A label inside the box instructed the user to pack the respirator in the box with the heavy end on the bottom and the transparent eyepiece on the top.
As asbestos ages it breaks down. In recent years the link between asbestos and lung disease has become known. It is important that all asbestos is professionally removed from gas masks from this period.