The history of the creation of a gas mask

Gas mask – adaptation to protect the respiratory organs, eye and skin of the face from the damage to various substances distributed in the form of gases or aerosols in the air. The history of such protection equipment goes to the Middle Ages, of course, for a long time there were significant changes and not only the appearance, but first of all the functional.

From the leather mask with the “beak” and red glasses of glasses that had to secure doctors during the epidemics of the plague, Protective remedies have reached fully insulating from contact with a contaminated instrument medium that ensure air filtration from any impurities.

Invention of Nikolai Zelinsky

About who first invented the prototype of a modern gas mask, an unequivocal point of view in the world was not formed. The history of the creation of a gas mask is directly related to the events of the First World War. Acute need for such a means of protection arose after the use of chemical weapons. For the first time, poisoning gases were applied in 1915 by the German troops.

The effectiveness of the new enemy defeat has exceeded all expectations. The method of application of poisoning gases was surprisingly simple, it was necessary to wait for the wind towards the enemy’s positions and spray substances from cylinders. Soldiers without a shot left the trenches, those who did not have time, died or were dismissed, most survivors died over the next two or three days.

On May 31 of the same year, poisoning gases were applied on the Eastern Front against the Russian Army, losses amounted to more than 5,000 soldiers and officers, about 2,000 people died from the resulting burns of respiratory tract and poisoning during the day. The front site was broken without any resistance and almost without a shot from the German troops.

All countries involved in conflict have tried hard to establish the production of poisoning substances and means that would allow to expand their use. Shells containing ampoules with poisoning gases are being developed, spraying devices are improved, the methods of use for gas attacks of aviation are being developed.

At the same time, the universal means of protecting personnel from the new weapon of mass lesion. Panic in the leadership of the armies can be illustrated by the proposed methods. Some warlords prescribed to dry fires in front of the trenches, the flow of heated air should have had, in their opinion, to carry the sprayed gases up and then they would have passed above the positions, without causing harm to personnel.

Suspicious clouds suggested to shoot from guns to dispel poisoning substances. Each soldier tried to supply gauze masks impregnated with reagent.

The prototype of the modern gas mask appeared almost simultaneously in all warring countries. This challenge for scientists was that various substances were used to defeat the enemy, and for each required a special reagent, neutralizing its action, against the other gas is perfectly useless. To ensure the troops with a variety of neutralizing substances, it was not possible, even more difficult to predict what the poisoning substance will be applied once again. These intelligence could be inaccurate, and sometimes contradictory.

The yield was proposed in 1915 by the Russian chemist Nikolai Dmitrievich Zelinsky, which can be rightfully called one of the creators of a modern gas mask. Taking on the debt of the service of cleaning various substances with wood coal, Nikolay Dmitrievich conducted a number of research on its use for air purification, including on himself, and came to satisfactory results.

Due to the exceptional adsorbing properties, specially prepared coal could be applied to any means known to the substances used as a means of lesion. Soon N. D. Zelinsky proposed a way to obtain an even more active adsorbent – activated carbon.

Under his leadership, studies were also conducted on the use of coal of various tree breeds. As a result, the best were recognized in descending order:

  • birch;
  • beech;
  • pine;
  • lime;
  • firing;
  • oak;
  • aspen;
  • alder;
  • Topolina.

Thus, it turned out that in the country this resource is in huge quantities, and the provision of the army will not be a big problem. The production turned out to be easy, since the coal of charcoal was already produced on a number of enterprises, it was necessary to increase their productivity.

It was originally proposed to use the coal layer in the manufacture of gauze masks, but their essential drawback is a loose fit to the face – Often reduced the cleaning effect of coal to zero. A technologist of the Triangle plant came to the rescue of the chemists, producing artificial rubber products, or how we are familiar to calling it – rubber, Kumant. He came up with a special hermetic rubber mask, fully closed, so the problem of a loose fit was solved, which was the main technical obstacle to the use of activated carbon to clean the air from the poisoning substances. Kumanate is considered to be the second inventor of a modern gas mask.

Zelinsky-Kumante gas mask was arranged on the same principle as modern means of protection, a little difference his appearance, but it was already details. Similarly, a metal box with laid strata of activated carbon joined the mask.

His mass production and appearance in the troops in 1916 forced the German troops to completely abandon the use of poisoning gases on the Eastern Front due to their low efficiency. Samples of the gas mask created in Russia were soon transferred to allies, and their production has established France and the United Kingdom. Based on trophy copies, gas production has turned in Germany.

Further development

Initially, before applying poisoning gases on the battlefield, respiratory protection means were not the attribute of the military. They were needed by firefighters, people working with aggressive environments (Malars, working chemical plants and T. NS.). The main function of such civil copies was air filtration from combustion products, dust or some toxic substances used for breeding varnishes and paints.

From Lewis Hasletta

Back in 1847, the American inventor Lewis Haltet proposed a means of protection in the form of a rubber mask with a felt filter. The valve system has become a feature that allowed to divide the streams of inhaled and exhaled air. Inhale was carried out through the filter insert. A small mask was fastened with belts. This prototype respirator was patented under the name “Pulmonary Protector”.

The device spanted well from dust or other particles weighted in the air. They could use workers on “dirty” industries, miners or farmers engaged in harvesting and selling hay.

From Garrett Morgan

Another American craftsman – Garrett Morgan offered a gas mask for firefighters. It was distinguished by a hermetic mask with a hose, which went down to the floor and allowed the fireman during rescue work to inhale cleaned air. Morgan quite justified assumed that burning products along with hot air rushed upwards at the bottom of the same air, as a rule, colder and, accordingly, clean. At the end of the hose was located filter felt element. This device really showed itself well when extinguishing fires and carrying out rescue work, allowing fireman longer to remain in the smokers.

Both of these and some more technically similar devices have done well with their tasks before the emergence of an acute need to create a universal filtering element after applying a variety of poisoning substances during the First World War. Application N. D. Zelinsky activated carbon having universal properties marked a new era of the development of personal protective equipment.

Errors Scientists

The path of creating protective funds was not direct and smooth. Chemists’ errors turned out to be fatal. As already noted, one of the most acute tasks was the search for neutralizing reagents. Scientists needed to find such a substance so that it was:

  • effective against poisoning gases;
  • harmless to humans;
  • inexpensive in production.

A variety of substances were appointed for the role of a universal tool, and since the enemy did not give time on deep research, practicing gas attacks at any convenient case, insufficiently studied substances were often proposed. One of the main arguments in favor of this or that reagent was the economic side of the issue. Often the substance was recognized as suitable only because they were easier to provide an army.

After the first gas attacks of servicemen begin to provide gauze bandages. Their production is engaged in various, including public organizations. There were no instructions for their manufacture, the troops received a variety of masks, often perfectly useless, since they did not provide tightness when breathing. The filter properties of these funds were also questionable. One of the most serious errors was the use of sodium hyposulphite as an active reagent. The substance during the reaction with chlorine was allocated sulfur dioxide, causing not just suffocation, and the burn of the respiratory tract. In addition, the reagent was completely useless against the organic poisoning applied by an opponent.

The opening of the neutralizing action of urotropin slightly saved. However, in this case, the problem of a loose need for a facial fit of the face mask remained. The fighter was to tightly press the mask with his hands, which made it impossible to actively conduct battle.

The invention of Zelinsky-Kumanti helped solve a whole ball of seemingly insoluble problems.

Interesting Facts

  • One of the first protographs of the gas mask in Russia became the glass caps with flexible hoses, used at the gilding of the domes of the Isakiev Cathedral in St. Petersburg in 1838.
  • During World War I, gas masks for horses and dogs were also developed. Their samples were actively improved until the middle of the XX century.
  • By 1916, prototypes of gas masks had in all warring states.

Improving devices went at the same time, and the constant arrival of military trophies led to a rapid, albeit not the deliberate exchange of ideas and technologies.

In the next video, you are waiting for more information about the history of the creation of a gas mask.

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