*Testing Your Gasmask For Fit and Function*
By: Crom
12 January 2003

My wife and I own 2 M17 and 2 M69 masks we are going to test

I started out to write this article as a way to help us all feel a little more comfortable about our masks and their function. What I found out could have been a disaster if I had not done this. I hope EVERYONE here goes through this procedure after reading this article.

I had gotten the idea to do this after reading Sarge’s article where he mentions testing your mask with banana oil (Amyl Acetate) ampules. I did a little looking around and found some at http://shop.store.yahoo.com/pks-store/banoilam.html these were only $4.50 for 10 of them and after shipping just over $8.00. The direct number for Allegro, who makes these is 1-800-622-3530. These are cheap enough EVERYONE should get some!

These come 10 to a pkg, enough for LOTS of testing

We started out the process of checking our masks by installing new filters one each one; with the M17s this is an article all to itself, as you know if you have one of these. Once the new filters were in place, we checked them by blocking the intakes and making sure we had a seal. This is what we have always done and until today, had always felt secure with. Once we had done this, we first checked the filter area itself with an ampule. You do this by simply crushing the ampule and passing it around the filter intake while the person in the mask breaths normally.

Checking Dianns mask…no bananas here but boy can you smell it everyplace else in the room!!

Once you do this, then check around the area where the mask and the filter meet. If there is no smell inside the mask, try and force a leak by blocking off the filter intake and inhaling.

No leak here!

The next area to check is around the voicemitter, which is an area that is prone to failure on some of the M69 masks, this is done by simply waiving the ampule around in front of the voicemitter, and if no leak is detected, try and force a leak as you did above. Once you do this, check around the eyes the same way.

Next check all around the area where the mask seals to your face. As above, check while breathing normally first, then try and force a leak.

Check the top and sides, when checking the top, make sure and try in a normal position and with you head forward

Checking under the chin, make sure and check in a normal position and with head tipped back.
This is where we found problems!

Everything was going well till we checked Dianns mask along the bottom, here she could detect a very slight odor of bananas! This is AFTER the way most of us check our mask, seeing if it suctions to your face. We did A LOT of trying to tighten the mask and re-fit, but there was no luck with this mask. Diann has a small face and neck. This was a medium mask and is still to large to get a good seal, again, this is AFTER her checking the mask and it seals to her face! We finally gave up on this mask for her, as it could not be made to seal. We went through the same procedure with my M69 and it fits and functions fine.

Next we did our M17s, I know these are no proof against things like small pox and most of the filters are out of date, but we have a lot of them and they are still good against tear gas, etc. The procedure for these are the same. First we checked to see if we had a suction fit, the we used an ampule to check around the filter inlets.

These tested ok, with this mask having two inlets it is A lot easier if you have two people to do this. After this, we checked the voicemitter and in my mask found that again, while there was a suction seal, when you try and force a leak, I had a very slight banana smell! This was corrected by replacing the outlet valve in the mask. The rest of the testing procedure was the same as for the other masks.

Testing the top of the mask

Other than the one outlet valve, the M17s checked out ok. This was a very sobering experience as I had every confidence that our masks were 100%. I cannot say enough how everyone here NEEDS to do this and SOON! When I place my order for the ampules, I had them within a week. It is really scary to think we could have been depending on these masks for our lives!

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