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How Gas Masks Work

By: Marshall Brain

Car painter wearing a gas mask for safety
Car painting technician wearing a gas mask for safety. EXTREME-PHOTOGRAPHER / Getty Images

Any time there is a threat of biological or che­mical attack, the first thing you hear about is gas masks.

Gas masks -- more generically known as respirators -- are also an important part of industrial safety on a daily basis. They protect workers against everything from flour dust in a grain elevator to the damaging organic chemicals in paint spray.

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In this edition of HowStuffWorks, we will look at the technology behind gas masks so you can understand how they work, and when they won't. ­

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