As the coronavirus pandemic has raged, health care workers have struggled to find enough disposable N95 masks. But they have also been encouraged to stockpile elastomeric masks that can be cleaned and reused, and that are government-certified to protect as well as N95s. These are a bit more expensive to buy and maintain, but one senior airman told Stripes that they might save money in the long run.
The small box respirator consists of a breathing tube connected to a face mask constructed to fit closely over the wearer’s mouth and nose. A stopper in the bottom of the box, filled with granules that absorb poisonous gases, ensures that the air passing along the breathing tube is pure. The face mask covers the mouth and nose, with openings for air intake at the top and bottom of the mouthpiece.
Meta-analytic data indicate that, when wearing a gas mask, high intensity exercise results in slightly higher blood carbon dioxide levels and lower oxygen uptake than without it2. However, metabolic responses during graded exercises performed to volitional exhaustion and steady state exercise mirroring daily living activities seem not to be affected by mask wearing3.
Amid the clink of Velcro and straps, the sound of hard exhales and a few shouted commands, the Marines and Sailors on this drill team don their masks. In less than nine seconds, they pull the satchel-like case from its carrying bag, grab the mask with both hands, squeeze and cinch it tightly around their heads, clear simulated contaminants out of the mask with a hard exhale of air and raise their arms to signal that they’ve properly donned the M53 Chemical-Biological Protective Mask. cbrn