A gas mask is an item of personal protective equipment used to protect the wearer from inhaling airborne pollutants and toxic gases. The mask forms a sealed cover over the nose and mouth, but may also cover the eyes and other vulnerable soft tissues of the face. Most gas masks are also respirators, though the word gas mask is often used to refer to military equipment (such as a field protective mask), the scope used in this article. The gas mask only protects the user from digesting, inhaling, and contact through the eyes (many agents affect through eye contact). Most combined gas mask filters will last around 8 hours in a biological or chemical situation. Filters against specific chemical agents can last up to 20 hours.
Airborne toxic materials may be gaseous (for example, chlorine or mustard gas), or particulates (such as biological agents). Many filters provide protection from both types.
The first gas masks mostly used circular lenses made of glass, mica or cellulose acetate