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Chemical Defense Equipment (From Medical Aspects of Chemical and Biological Warfare, P 361-396, 1997, Frederick R. Sidell, M.D., Ernest T. Takafuji, M.D., eds, et al., -- See NCJ-190599)

NCJ Number
Michael R. O'Hern; Thomas R. Dashiell; Mary F. Tracy
Date Published
30 pages

This document discusses the equipment used in chemical defense.


Adequate chemical defense equipment must encompass all areas of concern: detection and warning, personal protective equipment, decontamination and medical prophylaxis, and treatment. The primary item of protection is the personal respirator, designed to protect individuals against volatile agents and aerosols. The rapid detection and warning of an opponent's use of chemical agents is critical to the protection of forces. Real-time detection and warning, preferably from remote sensors, provides more time to assume a protective posture and to identify the chemical agent. Decontamination of equipment, facilities, and personnel is also required after an attack if effective military operations are to be maintained. One criterion for the selection and use of protective equipment items is the need for joint service use, although there are some differences between the missions of air and ground crews that must be accommodated. The chemical-biological warfare threat can come in three possible physical forms: gas, liquid, and aerosol. Chemical agents can gain entry into the body through two broad anatomical routes: the mucosa of the oral and respiratory tracts, and the skin. The gas mask protects the oral and nasal passages (as well as the eyes), while the skin is protected by the overgarment. An overgarment can be made to protect skin by either physical or chemical means. The overgarment can be made of fabric that is impermeable to most molecules, even to air and water vapor; or the overgarment can be made of fabric that is permeable to most molecules, but that also chemically alters or physically removes chemical agents before they reach the skin. Although boots provide good chemical protection, wearers are at serious risk of falls due to the lack of traction, and the weight of the boot contributes to the increased fatigue from complete protection ensemble wear. Gloves degrade tactile ability but also provide good protection. 42 references