Contains excerpts from MSAs’ gas masks Q & A, plus additional Information about masks
Q. Does MSA manufacture gas masks?
A. Yes, as one of the world’s leading manufacturers of safety equipment, MSA’s gas
masks have for decades helped protect American military personnel, first responders
(firefighters, police, emergency medical services personnel) and industrial workers from
airborne chemical and biological threats.
Q. How many gas masks does MSA make?
A. In addition to the manufacture of millions of traditional gas masks, MSA has
produced more than 7.5 million chemical-biological masks for military forces around the
world. Since the Sept. 11 attack on America, the demand for these gas masks has
been, and continues to be strong, and MSA continues to work to meet the needs of our
customers. We expect this demand to continue in the near term and have added
production capabilities to better meet it.
Q. How have MSA’s gas masks been tested?
A. MSA rigorously tests all of our respiratory protection products. In addition to our own
rigorous testing, our respiratory protection products designed for industrial applications
meet or exceed National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and
American National Standards Institute (ANSI) guidelines governing respiratory
protection. As you might expect, our masks for the military also are manufactured to
very strict specifications. MSA has also performed extensive testing on the Response™
Escape Hood against both simulated and live chemical agents.
Q. How long has MSA been making gas masks?
A. MSA was founded in 1914 and we have been supplying gas masks to the U.S.
military and other customers since World War I. We have a proud history of respiratory
Q. How do gas masks work?
A. The filtering media in the gas mask cartridges adsorb and trap airborne contaminants
before they enter the respiratory system.
Q. Are gas masks easy to use?
A. The use of traditional full-facepiece gas masks by civilians is a complex issue. MSA
is the world’s leading provider of products that protect people’s health and safety and
we have extensive experience in the area of respiratory protection. Gas masks are only
effective when the hazard in question has been properly identified, the mask is properly
fitted and used correctly, and used in areas containing sufficient oxygen to sustain life.
Our military, first responder (firefighters, police, emergency medical services personnel)
and industrial customers all have comprehensive respiratory protection fit testing,
training and maintenance programs in place to ensure the proper use of their gas
masks. It is for these reasons that MSA has developed the new Response™ Escape Hood,
which is specifically designed for use by civilians. This hooded escape mask is
compatible with long hair, glasses and beards, and reduces some of the burdens
traditionally associated with respirator use. However, as with any gas mask, users must
carefully read and fully understand the product’s accompanying instructions prior to
Q. What advice should be given to consumers who are fearful of chemical or
biological weapons attacks and want to purchase gas masks?
A. For consumers considering the purchase of a traditional full-facepiece gas mask,
there is some very important information they should know because the use of
traditional gas masks by the general public is very complex.
Training in the proper use and application of gas masks is what’s most important.
For instance, people need to consider:
• Is there sufficient oxygen in the contaminated area?
• What is the health and age of the individual using the mask? Due to the high
breathing resistance inherent when using a mask, it is difficult for some individuals to
handle or overcome.
• What specific hazard or types of hazards are present? This is very important to know
because there is no "universal" type of filter that’s effective against all airborne
threats. These threats can include:
• Chemicals. If chemicals exist, there must be an assessment of which ones and in
• Topical or skin exposure hazards.
• Biological hazards. Radioactive material hazards
• The presence of carbon monoxide or smoke.
These types of threats can only be properly assessed through air monitoring and
detection conducted by trained professionals. Civilians generally will need to rely on the
local emergency contacts to inform them of the hazards they may face, so that they may
properly prepare and/or respond.
In addition to the above, for a traditional full-facepiece gas mask to be effective, wearers
must be properly fitted because without an airtight seal around the face, contaminants
can leak into the mask. For example, facial hair can interfere with proper sealing. For
nearly all industries, specific written standards for conducting fit testing exist and these
must be adhered to. If they do not, wearers run the risk of using a mask that may be
ineffective. ANSI Z88.10 provides guidelines on how to perform a proper fit test.
Q. How long can people expect a gas mask to protect them?
A. There’s no single answer to that question. The effectiveness of a gas mask depends
on several factors, such as the hazard encountered, the concentration of that hazard,
the environmental factors, the canister and filter size and type being used, and the
breathing rate of the wearer. Based on these factors, they could be effective for minutes
or hours. That’s why training is so important.
The MSA Response™ Escape Hood has been tested against several typical agents, at various
concentrations and at varying relative humidities. MSA recommends use of our
Response™ Escape Hoods for no more than 15 minutes of service time during escape.
Q. Were MSA gas masks used during the Gulf War or in Bosnia?
A. Yes. The U.S. military has used MSA gas masks during all of its major operations in
the last 80 years.
Q. Which branches of the military does MSA supply?
A. MSA has supplied gas masks to all branches of the U.S. military and to other Federal
agencies. Our close relationships with police and fire departments help ensure that
these important first responders are protected, too.
Q. Will MSA gas masks protect against all chemical or biological threats?
A. All gas masks are only effective when they are designed to protect against the
concentration and type of contaminant in question,, the mask is fitted, cared for and
used properly, and the mask is used in areas containing sufficient oxygen. It’s important
to know that there is no universal type of filter that is effective against all airborne
threats. MSA believes that training in the proper use and application of gas masks is an
essential aspect of emergency preparedness. Wearing a gas mask does not guarantee
survival in a chemical or biological attack, but it can decrease the risk of injury or fatality,
depending on a variety of factors.
Q. Can consumers buy MSA gas masks?
A. Currently, traditional full-facepiece MSA gas masks are only available through our
existing industrial and fire service distribution channels. MSA does not sell products
directly to end users; we sell exclusively through our retailers and industrial distribution
channels such as Approved Gas Masks
However, consumers can purchase a Gas Mask Hood designed for civilian use through
Approved Gas Masks: Toll-Free: 877.246.1010, or Online: http://www.ApprovedGasMasks.com
Q. How can I get in contact with MSA’s gas mask distributors?
A. Industrial, coporate, government, fire service and police customers should call one of our MSA’s authorized distributors such as: Approved Gas Masks
For more information on the consumer version of the Gas Mask Hood, click here.
Q. Does MSA have gas masks for consumers?
A. As the world’s leading U.S.-based manufacturer of safety equipment, the development
of a consumer-friendly chemical/biological respiratory protection product was a priority
for years, starting well before the tragic events of September 11th.
We are pleased that we now have a product designed for use by civilians.
Q. Are gas masks available for children?
A. MSA does not manufacture any gas mask models for children & does not recommend the use of any of our gas masks by children. Children do need protection in the event of a terrorist attack or other threat, however, gas mask usage by children poses unique complexities due to lung capacities, breathing resistance, facial structure, neck size, and maturity level. If you make the decision to provide gas masks to children, you should alwasys use a mask specifically designed for use by children or infants.
Click here to browse gas masks for infants & children
Always closely monitor your child while using any of these systems, use extreme caution and contact your health care professional for further information to make sure you have addressed the specific needs of your child.
Q. Are gas masks available for pets?
A. Standard gas masks that are currently on the market are not approved for use on animals.
Due to the wide range of sizes & many animal species, a pet system is the best choice,
it requires the pet to be placed inside a “pet crate” and the system goes around the crate
providing a safe enviroment inside. Always closely monitor your pet while using any pet system.
Click here to view our Pet-Safe Protective System
Q. Where can I find gas masks?
A. Industrial, fire service and police customers & civilian / members of the general public
can contact Approved Gas Masks, an authorized distributor, at: 877.246.1010.
more information on the Response Hood with instruction video tape
- Approved Gas
Masks is licensed by the U.S. State Dept. to obtain export permits & is
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