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#231911 - 09/11/11 08:07 PM Effective Personal Breathing Protection ?
Pete Offline

Registered: 02/20/09
Posts: 1372
While watching the remembrance coverage of the 9/11 attacks, I was reminded of the serious problem of dust contamination that hit the streets of Manhattan when the Twin Towers collapsed.

Ongoing medical studies have since shown that the dust & contaminants that New Yorkers breathed into their lungs have done a lot of damage to their health (esp. first responders, police, and victims near Ground Zero).

This raises the question ... what effective personal breathing protection exists to help people (esp. in urban emergencies)? On the low end of the scale, it's possible to wrap a bandana around your face as a temporary mask. On the upper end of the protection scale, firemen have full-fitting face masks and air tanks that they can use where smoke is a problem. But is there some sort of mid-level solution to this problem, that doesn't cost too much and is not too heavy, that can be used by the average person in the street.

any ideas?


#231912 - 09/11/11 08:16 PM Re: Effective Personal Breathing Protection ? [Re: Pete]
Jeanette_Isabelle Offline

Registered: 11/13/06
Posts: 2411
Loc: Somewhere in Florida
I'm not going to endorse it but at least take a look at the Safe Escape Smoke Hood. It sounds promising.

Jeanette Isabelle
“Trust me, this is not gonna end well!” — Pleakley, Lilo & Stitch

#231918 - 09/11/11 09:23 PM Re: Effective Personal Breathing Protection ? [Re: ]
Paul810 Offline

Registered: 03/02/03
Posts: 1428
Loc: NJ, USA
Izzy has pretty much got it. In order of worst to best, as far as common solutions go, you're pretty much looking at the following:

Bare mouth
Cloth covered mouth (bandanna or t-shirt)
Wet Cloth covered mouth or maybe a basic paper mask
N95-N100 Mask/Respirator (the ones with one-way valves are best)
R95-R100 Respirator
P95-P100 Respirator
Full face P100 Respirator

For sustained use in a situation like 9/11, I would really want a full P class respirator with a lot of spare cartridges. They're annoying to wear, they're bulky, and they're expensive; but they offer a level of protection that is reasonably well suited to the airborne hazards present in that situation.

For EDC carry though, typical N95 and N100 level masks are readily available, reasonably priced, small, lightweight, and easy to carry. They offer a reasonable level of protection if you're just trying to get out of a dangerous area, but it's not what I would want to wear if I was staying at the scene long term (like a first responder would). The big downside to these masks, though, is that they offer no protection of the eyes, so they have to be paired with some form of eye protection.

For me, that's not such a big deal, as I already wear prescription glasses with polycarbonate (safety) lenses, which affords me some eye protection. Therefore, I just toss a few N95's in my bags and what-not. However, if you're making a dedicated kit, where you would include both safety goggles and dust protection of some sort, it might make the most sense to just go with a full face unit and a few spare canisters. It's expensive, but even basic R95 full-face units offer a significant amount of protection for both the lungs and the eyes.

#231922 - 09/11/11 10:38 PM Re: Effective Personal Breathing Protection ? [Re: Paul810]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7294
Loc: southern Cal
Funny, I was just using a N95 mask, cleaning out some rodent infestation. They are much better than a bandanna, even a red one, and they are cheap and easy to use. When necessary, I would pair a mask with safety goggles - not as good as SCBA breathing apparatus, but a lot more available.

You can purchase a n95 mask packaged with goggles and ear protection. I have some of these stashed around the premises so that I can get my hands on them when the old castle becomes dust and splinters in the next big earthquake.

Edited by hikermor (09/12/11 12:39 AM)
Geezer in Chief

#231927 - 09/11/11 11:00 PM Re: Effective Personal Breathing Protection ? [Re: Pete]
speedemon Offline

Registered: 04/13/10
Posts: 98
I know Home Depot (probably Lowes and other home improvement stores) carries a 3M half face P100 mask with replaceable filters for only $25 in case anyone was looking for something affordable. Fairly comfortable if it fits, although in hot weather your face will sweat in it (gets kind of annoying).

#231934 - 09/12/11 12:03 AM Re: Effective Personal Breathing Protection ? [Re: Pete]
LesSnyder Offline

Registered: 07/11/10
Posts: 1613
Loc: New Port Richey, Fla
after a couple of decades of fighting with students to wear the darn things....you might want to consider a designated chemical splash goggle in place of a pair of impact goggles... a little more uncomfortable and prone to fogging, but a lot more protection...you need to try them with your mask...in another similar discussion, swimmer's goggles (not faceplate) was mentioned for non prescription glasses wearing folks...

#231940 - 09/12/11 02:28 AM Re: Effective Personal Breathing Protection ? [Re: Pete]
Mark_M Offline

Registered: 11/19/09
Posts: 295
Loc: New Jersey
After the 1993 WTC bombing, our company provided each employee with an Xcaper Mask kit. The kit includes a pillow-like mask that is supposed to filter out dust, chemicals and harmful gasses, goggles with a foam gasket, LED keychain flashlight and a signal whistle on a lanyard in a pouch. The pouch can be attached to your arm, belt or bag strap (I keep mine on the shoulder strap for my messenger bag). Cost is $59. http://www.excaper.com.

The Xscaper mask is only good for 20-30 minutes. Assuming this gives you time to get out of the worst conditions but still need dust protection, something additional like an N95 respirator or mask would be needed. There is room in the Xscaper pouch and I've added a couple flat-folding N95 masks (as well as a few other small survival items).

I have an expired Xcaper kit and am going to try to fit a 3M P100 respirator in it for my daughter's kit at college.

When it comes to goggles I prefer something with a gasket so it can seal-out gasses and particles. Regular safety glasses/goggles are not sealed and it can quickly get hard to see in a fire as your eyes sting and tear from the toxic gasses produced.
2010 Jeep JKU Rubicon | 35" KM2 & 4" Lift | Skids | Winch | Recovery Gear | More ...
'13 Wheeling: 8 Camping: 6 | "The trail was rated 5+ and our rigs were -1" -Evan@LIORClub

#231942 - 09/12/11 03:31 AM Re: Effective Personal Breathing Protection ? [Re: Mark_M]
acropolis5 Offline

Registered: 06/18/06
Posts: 358
Mark, you and I seem to have similar urban survival views and experiences. Maybe because we live so near each other. PM me. I too use an Xscaper kit for urban self rescue, I.e. Get me out of this smoke filled building , tunnel, etc. Best bang for the buck,IMO. For dust I use swim goggles, slightly larger than the tiny common models. Bought at Campmor. I also use the flat fold 3M N-95 masks with the oneway valve.

#231943 - 09/12/11 04:02 AM Re: Effective Personal Breathing Protection ? [Re: Pete]
Frisket Offline

Registered: 09/03/10
Posts: 640
You can purchase a Half Mask made by by 3m and p100 (stick to p100 its loads better then n95) at any Lowes and home depot from my understanding. Getting cart's rated for p100 acid gas and nuisance gas's is also possible at them. Pretty much i believe they are for naturally made gas's and gas's such as chlorine and bleach I believe tho I dont know.

#231944 - 09/12/11 04:03 AM Re: Effective Personal Breathing Protection ? [Re: Pete]
Aussie Offline

Registered: 11/12/10
Posts: 205
Loc: Australia
Pete, you should look for smoke goggles. These are sealed, thermally rated and are impact resistant.

The purpose of the goggles is to stop your eyes being affected by smoke and very fine particles (as well as larger particles and debris which may hit you in the face).

You can purchase them form fire fighting suppliers.

It seems to me that there are only limited options for air way protection. From what I read it seems to me that the hood style probably offer the best all round convienicnce and protection for EDC ? Certainly a lot less fiddly than a maks and goggles.

Remember that most people who perish in building fires are actually overcome by fumes (gases) from combustion of man made materials, rather that "smoke" or other particles.

Also by protecting your vision (goggles etc), you will be better able to exit a hazardous area.

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