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Gas mask asbestos risk?

Article about: Picked up a WW2 British gas mask at local market today. Novice to this market, & probably paid over the odds for it at 10, but thought it reasonable for a piece of history. However on c

  1. #11


    Quote by barmingad View Post
    I guess handling is not to be recommended either? Think the bin it is unfortunately
    Handling the mask poses no risk at all.
    If you want to throw it away that is your business but it would be a useless gesture.

  2. #12
    NCA is offline


    It would have to disposed of correctly if you went down that cant just chuck it in the bin.

    Now i'm not exactly sure of the structure of the additional green filter on this type of mask but the larger filter is made of gauze enclosed in wire mesh (which has the asbestos in as far I know) particulate filter, activated charcoal.The manual I have states the filters do not degrade but I guess you cant be sure after all this time.Now Asbestos isn't a problem as long as it remains undisturbed.Just think..back in the day this was a wonder product and ended up in all sorts of things...chances are most of us have breathed it at some stage!So long as its stored correctly and you don't wear it I don't see a problem.

  3. #13


    Thanks for all the replies - only considered disposing of it as I have kids and worry that either them or their friends might be tempted to put it on, even if I tell them not to or store it away. However sealing with PVA sounds an option, reading around that seems what the IWM did for a number of years? I will contact a couple of local asbestos removal guys just to see if that's an option, although I suspect it will be prohibitively expensive!

    Out of interest, how would remove the filter (to store separately, sealed away)? Does it simply unscrew?

    If I do keep, I would be interested to know what type of mask it is and possible history based on date and style. Interestingly 3x other masks in the same market, civilian-type all boxed, so seems there's plenty of 'em out there!

  4. #14


    This is a civillian duty respirator. It was issued to civillians who needed a more durable gasmask than the standard civilian type, and this included ARP wardens and St Johns ambulance medics, as well as many others.

    My understanding is that the asbestos in these filters is not dangerous unless breathed or disturbed, but I have poured a PVA solution into my masks just so that I can feel more comfortable about them. I think 10 is a good price and I really wouldnt worry too much about the asbestos.

    Your mask (and mine) has the usual wartime amended filter with the extra green filter taped to the front. This was introduced in 1941 (going from memory) as the previous filters were found to be inadequate. The original type can be seen in the manual next to the mask. Other than that theres probably not much to say about this mask specifically.

    Here is my one with its bag and accessories in case it is of interest.

    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture Click image for larger version. 

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  5. #15
    NCA is offline


    Theres enough variety to keep us collectors interested in these I think.As said yours is the Civilian duty mask, earlier versions had a cardboard filter which ive yet to see outside of pictures...also on type had an attachment for a microphone for Telephone operators... there was another more basic type for everyone else including a rare version for Asthmatics, this type had a simple one piece eyepiece of clear plastic and an exhale valve...then theres the 'Mickey Mouse' for young children that was red with a blue filter.supposedly less scary?!Then there is one for babies operated by the mother/father ect pumping air into it...horrible looking thing I think.

    as for removing the filter if you have to it should have a metal clip with a lever.This just flips up and the filter comes out of the mask.I'd leave it personally and just do the pva thing.

  6. #16


    Personally I don't have a problem owning them, but I am certainly not about to wear them! As an aside, the asbestos fear came to my advantage on Monday when I was given three mint civilian respirators, a childs mask and a baby mask from a work colleague who didn't want them in his house. I would thoroughly recommend the book 'British Military Respirators and Anti Gas Equipment of the two world wars' which has a lot of eminently sensible advice on collecting gas masks.

    In regards to your mask, this original instruction leaflet from my collection might be of interest:
    Click image for larger version. 

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  7. #17


    Handling them you would have zero issue with asbestos exposure. If you don and dof if you have more hazard in damaging the mask.
    In order to be exposed to amounts of asbestos from these to become dangerous you would probably have to bust open the filter.
    I am a certified Haz-mat tech with the fire department.
    If you do dispose of it has been said take it to your towns hazardous waste day or area in the dump.
    of course never let kids put them on.
    I don't know enough about them as to taking the filter of for storage in a bag ect so I don't want to say anything that's going to mess up your masks and filter.

  8. #18


    I know some museums pour clear coat inside the filter as it hardens and bonds all inside
    Looking for following WWII German items:
    - anything dealing with Allenstein (Olsztyn) and Wehrkreis I in East Prussia,
    - entrenching tool carrier (straight and folding),
    - forestry and hunting items,
    Join my Facebook group -

  9. #19


    Next time somebody does a filter could they take pictures and post a how to so we can see how it's done?

  10. #20


    ahh it only kills ya 30-40 years later on!! eat some concrete and toughen up

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