Do Gas Masks Filter Viruses?

Do Gas Masks Filter Viruses?

Health experts agree that wearing masks in public places can reduce the risk of becoming infected with COVID-19. Known as SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus causes severe respiratory symptoms that resulted in the deaths of over 100,000 Americans. Indeed, the need for masks while in public cannot be overemphasized.

Do gas masks filter viruses? No, gas masks aren’t effective protective barriers against viruses! These are instead worn as protection against toxic gases and airborne pollutants.

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Read on to find out the specific uses for gas masks. We will also look into the best possible face masks that the general public can wear and other protective measures.

Gas Masks Have Specific Uses

Gas masks are typically designed to create a sealed cover over the wearer’s nose and mouth. Many gas masks also cover the eyes, like tear gas masks and other facial soft tissues.

But while gas masks can cover nearly the entire face, these aren’t designed as a protective barrier against viruses. These can only protect their users from inhaling and digesting airborne pollutants and particulates.

These can also prevent direct contact between the eyes and the airborne materials through built-in safety goggles. 

The airborne pollutants, which may or may not be toxic, come in different forms. These can be gaseous, such as chlorine and mustard gas, which can cause adverse side effects upon inhalation. These may also be particulates, such as asbestos from demolition projects.

Gas masks are used in a wide range of industries, too. Construction workers wear gas masks as protection against welding fumes and cement dust. Chemists and workers in the chemical industry use them when handling hazardous substances.

Maintenance workers wear them, too, when repairing leaks and cleaning up chemical spills. Police and demonstrators also use gas masks in case tear gas is used. 

Indeed, gas masks like the Israeli Gas Mask and Straw have diverse uses, but these aren’t suitable protection against viruses. You have to find other protective barriers! 

Alternative To Gas Masks As Barrier Against Viruses

The CDC or U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization (WHO) asks people to wear face coverings in public. These are recommended as easy and affordable, and possibly effective, method of staying safe during the pandemic. These are also among the methods of flattening the pandemic curve and, thus, saving more lives. 

But not all face coverings are created equal as a potentially effective barrier against the coronavirus. Let’s take a look at three types of face coverings.

  • Respirators, which are usually fit and seal-tested, are considered the safest mask against the coronavirus. Emphasis must be made that the coronavirus has an estimated diameter of 125 nanometers (nm). Certified N95, N99, and N100 respirators can filter out between 95 and 99.7 percent of particles between 100 and 300 nm.

  • Surgical masks are made of breathable synthetic fabric that covers the jawline, nose, and mouth. Their filtration efficiency is estimated at 90 percent, but these should be worn properly.

  • Cloth masks aren’t considered as effective as a protective barrier against viruses. But these are better than nothing!

Of these three types of face coverings, we suggest using either an N95 mask or a surgical mask instead of a gas mask.


Gas masks have their uses but not against the coronavirus! You can use them in other instances, fortunately, so you may want to keep them in a secure place.