A gas mask provides protection against inhalation of airborne pollutants and toxic gases. It is said that common sponge was used as a gas mask in ancient Greece.
People started using masks while mining in the eighteenth century. A crude respirator was invented by Alexander von Humboldt in 1799, when he worked as a mining engineer in Prussia. Another mask which was in use was called plague doctor’s bird-beak-shaped mask. This mask was used by doctors to protect themselves from airborne diseases. The beak was filled with sweet smelling herbs, flowers etc.
The first U.S patent for air purifying respirator called ‘Inhaler or Lung Protector’ was issued to Lewis P. Haslett. This respirator filtered dust from the air. American, Garrett Morgan patented the ‘Morgan safety hood and smoke protector’ in 1914. It was a simple device consisting of a cotton hood with two hoses which hung down to the floor, allowing the we
arer to breathe the safer air found there.
Modern chemical warfare began in Ypres, France. German soldiers used chlorine gas on April 22, 1915, to attack the French. Counteracting chlorine gas with cotton mouth pads and absorbent hoods proved ineffective.
It was during this time that Russian chemist Nikolay Zelinsky improved upon the gas mask by creating a filter that used activated carbon. The activated carbon has a large surface area which attracts all forms of pollutants from air and water. Thus inventing the first filtering gas mask, using activated charcoal.