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The Nation

Civilian Gas Mask Approved

March 14, 2004|From Associated Press

PITTSBURGH — Federal regulators have approved the first gas mask intended to protect civilian emergency personnel from chemical, biological, radioactive and nuclear agents.

The company that produces the mask, Mine Safety Appliances Co., said it would begin production almost immediately following the approval Friday by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Testing prototypes proved especially complicated because all the masks exposed to terminal agents had to be destroyed and it was difficult to determine what went wrong with those that failed, said Ron Herring, vice president and general manager of the company's safety products division.

The new masks have air purifiers, which make them easier to transport than their military counterparts.

Mine Safety Appliances was founded in 1914 as a developer of mine safety equipment.

Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the company has provided equipment for emergency responders such as police and firefighters.

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