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With the events of Sept. 11 and the resulting call to arms against terrorism, I have received many requests by e-mail asking about possible protection in the event of chemical or biological attacks on the U.S. Please note the following is not meant to represent an expert opinion, I am only a collector who has an interest in the history of gas warfare from WWII.

WARNING: In regard to gas masks available on the internet, auction sites, 2nd hand stores, surplus stores, and others, it's important to be aware that old gas masks are dangerous and may contain asbestos, chromium 5, mold, fungus and possibly residual agents left over from tests or training. These masks are of historical value only! Do not wear! Not even for costume purposes such as Halloween! Filters also have a short lifespan, and the filter is designed according to the gas used. In WWII, filters were continually being modified. There is no guarantee that surplus masks are not defective. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments.

It is my opinion that new gas masks are not really worth using. Ideally, effective protection would best be served by using a self contained HAZMAT (hazardous material) suit and the vaccine to be dictated by the agent. Unfortunately, these suits are not only very costly, but in all likelihood not easily obtained and require proper training to use. As to availability to civilians of any of these items, your government is well aware of what is needed and is acting upon it. However, I caught on the news today (Oct. 13/01) a demonstration of a "Doff-It" kit, which appears to be quick, easy, and potentially beneficial as a first step toward decontamination in the event of a biological attack should there actually be one. This is found on the updated Haz/Mat DQE Inc, click on the "product catalog" icon, then "product protection", then DoffIt Kit. The fact is that no matter what is used for protection, decontamination is essential; protective clothing is not enough.

To read up on the most recent publications put out by the U.S. Dept. of Defense, go to where you will find under the heading "Reports" several up-to-date documents on biological and chemical research in pdf format. Another site to check for updated information is the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

There is also an excellent site in the U.K., very informative, that will answer many questions about gas masks and gas protection. Even if you have purchased a gas mask, I recommend a look at this page: NBCD Defense. This is part of the historical site Gas! Gas! Gas!

The real solution to the threat of attacks is to wipe out the source, and it appears the world is well on its way to making this happen. Keep up the faith, go on with your lives, do not live in fear, and you will be halfway to winning. We are all in this together.

Please take the time to go back and see the rest of our page and learn a bit about earlier use of gas masks in WWII
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since Oct. 13, 2001