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Litmus Leak

Does this gas mask really work?
  [vote for,

Gas masks (known in the business as "respirators") must be custom fitted. This is understandable--everone's face is a different shape, and even a small leak might have deadly consequences. As such, various mechanisms have been invented to test the fit of a respirator. The most common of these involve exposing the prospective owner to a gas of some kind, which the wearer will be able to detect. This is commonly a type of banana extract, with a strong but not unpleasant smell--if you can't smell it while wearing the respirator, then it fits.

This leads to problems, however; fitting a respirator is a tedious business, and many people are under pressure to get theirs fitted and get on to business, to the point that some people fear losing their jobs if they can't get a respirator in an expedient manner. This sometimes leads to people lying about their fit--saying that the respirator fits properly when in fact it does not, which is obviously potentially quite dangerous.

One solution to this problem was the use of what is called "irritant smoke"--think basically tear gas. If you can smell this stuff, there's no way you can hide it from the testers. The problem with this, of course, is that it is extremely unpleasant, especially when you may have to try a large number of masks before finding one that actually fits.

My proposal: A small, chemical-imprgnated slip of paper similar to a litmus paper, with post-it type glue on the back. The paper has a chemical on it that quickly and visibly reacts to a nontoxic and not-unpleasant-smelling gas (such chemical combinations are already known and are ustilized in simple testing mechanisms). Just stick the paper to the inside of the mask, vent the testing gas, and a wait a few moments before removing the mask and checking the paper for the distinctive color change. It's neither unpleasant or possible to lie about.

5th Earth, May 13 2005


       If you really were in such a hurry, couldn't you cheat this by exhaling during testing?
Detly, May 14 2005

       [Pa've], I mentioned the "irritant gas" method in my post. The point of this idea is to establish a proper fit WITHOUT resorting to physical pain.
5th Earth, May 15 2005

       What's the fun in that? How about putting a parokeet in the gas mask and watching to see if it dies? Seriously, if this isn't already being done its an excellent idea.
SpocksEyebrow, May 15 2005

       Canaries are better (and smaller)
Ling, May 16 2005

       how about roaches or beetles a la fear factor.
SpocksEyebrow, May 16 2005

       Because the roaches would live longer than you.   

       I can imagine the tester:   

       "Yep, the 'roach is fine. The mask must be OK.
Sir? Sir?"
<writes note> Mask OK, but Subject reacted unfavourably with indicator mechanism </mn>
Ling, May 16 2005

       [ack] And here I thought I was the only one who did that. Oh well, at least sometimes the baby laughs...
justaguy, May 16 2005

       I'm glad I read this one. I think I should foreward the link to 3M. They make the masks that we use at work. Hey do any of us work for 3M? +
LED Prism, Oct 06 2006

       yeah this is probably a good idea when training; especially, (cough, check, double check) the instructor would definately know if someone was just getting cleared to get a better paying job or just rather senseless.
abadon, Nov 08 2007

       Couldn't you just seal the filter area and try to breathe .
wjt, Nov 09 2007


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