The 11th November 2018, a day to remember those who liberated us.  It’s 100 years since the end of the First World War. Thank you to all.

This also got me thinking about Gas Masks and their filters containing asbestos.

UK issued Military gas masks contained Crocidolite (blue) asbestos.

And civilian masks contained Chrysotile (white) asbestos.

The filters comprised a charcoal layer and merino wool pads. The merino wool pads were mixed with the asbestos fibre.

There was a huge number of masks produced; over 105 million civilian and nearly 30 million military grade. Mostly from 1937 to 1942, but also from 1945 to 1965.

Masks were made for babies, children, teenagers and adults. They even made them for dogs and horses!

Though studies have shown that wearer exposure was low, it was still preventable exposure none the less. A conundrum of short-term risk versus long-term risk. Death by suffocation from the poison gas or the long-term risks of asbestos.  Of course, the immediate primary threat must be controlled but at what cost? The enemy during WWII didn’t actually deploy poison gas but of course, the threat was always there so masks were worn a lot.

Did they need to put asbestos in? Were there alternatives? Asbestos was cheap, abundantly naturally available and hailed as the ‘miracle fibre’. But remember, there is evidence dating back as early as the 1890’s that asbestos kills.  The first registered death in the UK in 1924. Yet reported evidence was on a ‘need to know (but mostly ignore it) basis’, the corporates had big money to make.  This is a topic for another day though!

In the meantime, let’s remain thankful for today.

And keep doing the right thing in the short term AND the long term.

If you need help, I’m always here.


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