Inventions that aid and protect the
ability to breath where gas, smoke or other poisonous fumes exist, occurred
before 1915 and the first use of modern chemical weapons. Modern chemical
warfare began in Ypres, France; when German soldiers first used chlorine
gas on April 22, 1915, to attack the French. Long before that date, miners,
firemen, and underwater divers all had a need for helmets that could provide
breathable air, and the early prototypes for gas masks were developed to
meet those needs.
In 1823, brothers, John and Charles
Deane patented a smoke protecting apparatus for firemen that was later
modified for underwater divers. Augustus Siebe marketed an early diving
suit in 1819. Siebe's suit included a helmet to which air was pumped via
a tube to the helmet and spent air escaped from another tube. The inventor
founded Siebe, Gorman and Co., a company that developed and manufactured
respirators for a variety of purposes that was later instrumental in developing
In 1849, Lewis P. Haslett patented
an "Inhaler or Lung Protector," the first U.S. patent (#6529) issued for
an air purifying respirator. Haslett's device filtered dust from the air.
In 1854, Scottish chemist John Stenhouse invented a simple mask that used
charcoal to filter noxious gases.
In 1860, Frenchmen, Benoit Rouquayrol
and Auguste Denayrouse invented the Résevoir-Régulateur,
intended for use in rescuing miners in flooded mines, the Résevoir-Régulateur
could be used underwater. The device was made up of a nose clip, and a
mouthpiece attached to an air tank that the rescue worker carried on his
In 1871, British physicist John Tyndall
invented a fireman's respirator that filtered air against smoke and gas.
In 1874, British inventor, Samuel Barton patented a device that "permitted
respiration in places where the atmosphere is charged with noxious gases,
or vapors, smoke, or other impurities" according to U.S. patent #148868.
American, Garrett Morgan patented
the Morgan safety hood and smoke protector in 1914. Two years later, Garrett
Morgan made national news when his gas mask was used to rescue 32 men trapped
during an explosion in an underground tunnel 250 feet beneath Lake Erie.
The publicity sold the safety hood to firehouses across the United States.
Some historians site the Morgan design as the basis for early U.S. army
gas masks used during WW1, others do not.
Early air filters include simple
devices such as a soaked handkerchief held over the nose and mouth. Those
devices evolved into various hoods worn over the head and soaked with protective
chemicals, goggles for the eyes and later filters drums were added.
The British built a carbon monoxide
respirator for use during WW1 in February 1915, before the first use of
chemical gas weapons. It was discovered that unexploded enemy shells gave
off high enough levels of carbon monoxide to kill soldiers in the trenches,
foxholes, and other contained environments. Similar, to the dangers of
the exhaust from a car with its engine turned on in an enclosed garage.
Canadian, Cluny Macpherson designed
a fabric 'smoke helmet' with a single exhaling tube, impregnated with chemical
sorbents to defeat the airborne chlorine used in the gas attacks. Macpherson's
designs were used and modified by allied forces and are considered the
first to be used to protect against chemical weapons.
In 1916, the Germans added larger
air filter drums to their respirators containing gas neutralize chemicals.
The allies soon added filter drums to their respirators as well. One of
the most notable gas masks used during WW1 was the British Small Box Respirator
or SBR designed in 1916. The SBR was probably the most reliable and heavily
used gas masks used during WW1.
...to be continued.
Garrett Morgan was an inventor and
businessman from Cleveland, who invented a device called the Morgan safety
hood and smoke protector in 1914.
MacPherson began researching methods
of protection against poison gas and invented the MacPherson respirator
or gas mask in 1915.
The Invention of the Gas Mask
Varieties of gas masks developed
from 1840s onward.
Early Gas Masks of World War I
It is generally accepted by historians
that the first instance of chemical warfare took place at Ypres when the
Germans attacked the French with a concentrated cloud of chlorine gas on
April 22, 1915. This disastrous event prompted the development of the first
Mandate Gas Masks During WW2
Adult gas masks were black whereas
children had 'Mickey Mouse' masks with red rubber pieces and bright eyepiece
Masks of WW2
Brief History and Photos of Gas Masks
with individual inventors >>> Cluny
MacPherson or Garrett Morgan