Personal Protective Equipment (cont.)
Jeffrey L Arnold, MD, FACEP
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
Raymond J Roberge, MD, MPH, FAAEM, FACMT
Military personal protective equipment refers to the protective respiratory devices, garment ensembles, gloves, and footwear covers worn by military personnel. The purpose is to protect military personnel from chemical, biological, and radioactive hazards, while enabling these people to accomplish their assigned missions. In all cases, military PPE used for chemical warfare exposures also protects against biological warfare agents.
- M40 mask: The M40 mask is a full-face chemical and biological protective mask that protects the respiratory tract, eyes, and mucous membranes in a manner similar to a nonpowered APR. Available in 3 sizes, the M40 mask combines the protective mechanisms of a charcoal filter against vapors involved in chemical warfare (especially nerve agents and blistering agents) and a HEPA filter against biological warfare particles in 1 screw-on filter canister. Maintenance of this filter canister is critical. Filter canisters must be replaced every 30 days, whenever filter elements are damaged physically or immersed in water, or when breathing becomes difficult while using them. Other features include 2 voicemitters for communication, optical inserts for visual correction, and a drinking tube.
- Battledress overgarments (BDOs): These are 2-layered chemical protective overgarments that contain an inner layer of activated charcoal to adsorb (bind with the agent, not absorb it) penetrating chemical liquids and vapors. Battledress overgarments also protect against biological warfare agents and radioactive alpha and beta particles. Available in 8 sizes in woodland or desert camouflage patterns, BDOs may be worn up to 24 hours in a contaminated environment. Contaminated battledress overgarments must be incinerated or buried.
- Chemical-protective gloves: Glove sets consist of a protective outer glove made out of butyl rubber and an inner glove for absorption of perspiration. Glove sets are available in 4 sizes and 3 thicknesses (7, 14, and 25 mL). Gloves may be worn for 12 hours in the contaminated environment. After visual inspection, gloves may be reused for another 12 hours. After use, gloves may be decontaminated and reused.
- Chemical-protective footwear covers: Single-sized butyl rubber footwear covers protect combat boots against all agents. Vinyl overboots also are available.
- Patient protective wraps: Also known as casualty wraps, these are chemical-protective and biological-protective wraps for casualties in contaminated environments in which personnel are unable to wear battledress overgarments . The top of the garment has a charcoal lining similar to the BDO, while the bottom is constructed of impermeable rubber. Breathing occurs through the permeable top, which functions as a protective respiratory mask.
- Wartime personal protective equipment for civilians: The chemical infant protective system is a semiclosed hoodlike system designed to protect infants in contaminated environments. This protective device delivers filtered air via a battery-operated blower. It is available for civilian use in Israel.
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