Asbestos contained in a world war 2 gas mask can be detrimental to ones health when the mask is worn and the person inhales minute fibres from the asbestos sheet.
Most world war 2 gas masks manufactured prior to 1950 contain an asbestos disc within the respirator, (see photo). The asbestos can be particularly dangerous, due to the fact of the age of the asbestos sheet. When asbestos ages – it can become friable (crumbly) and this is when it has the potential to release the most fibres.
People have been found to be using world war 2 gas masks for Fancy Dress, Halloween, and some traders are using them as cheap alternatives to industrial respirators.
Asbestos inhalation can cause mesothelioma
Consumers have been warned against using world war vintage gas masks containing asbestos as this could lead to a type of lethal cancer such as mesothelioma. If you posess a world war 2 gas mask it is diffficult to establish wether it does contain asbestos as the gas masks were not manufactured with serial numbers and therefore would need to be tested for asbestos. Recently – a british museum had all their gas masks removed for testing when health and safety officers realised that visitors to the museum had been trying the gas masks on.