Asbestos contained in a world war 2 gas masks can be detrimental to ones health
When the gas mask is worn over the face the wearer can inhale the minute fibres from the asbestos sheet contained within the filter.
Most world war 2 gas masks manufactured prior to 1950 contain an asbestos disc within the respirator, (see photo above). The asbestos can be particularly dangerous, due to the fact of the age of the asbestos sheet because 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 stage props. Some traders have even used 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 whether 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!