First, will a gas mask really protect you from nuclear fallout? To an important extent, yes for Alpha and Beta radiation within a nuclear fallout ‘cloud’ – which may spread far and wide depending on wind currents. Additionally, high altitude fallout may potentially spread quite far.
Think of Alpha radiation as dust. You can breathe it in. Once it’s in, you’re in trouble..
The ‘Rule of 3’ for survival (link at the end) reveals that AIR (breathing) is firstly the most important factor to mitigate. You might say that 3 minutes without it, and, well, not good.. While inhaling nuclear fallout won’t ‘get you’ in 3 minutes, it certainly will ‘get you’. So lets talk about what’s the best gas mask for this scenario.
Do bear in mind that gas masks provide no Gamma radiation protection. Neutron radiation is similarly unaffected by gas masks. A gas mask for nuclear fallout is not a magic bullet. There are lots of factors and variables of your situation which will impact your survival and plan-of-action.
With that said, Alpha & Beta radiation (which is in the ‘fallout’ cloud) will be stopped from getting into your lungs while properly wearing the right gas mask for nuclear fallout… and the right filter.
A gas mask is integral to survival for many circumstances and situations beyond nuclear alpha particle radiation too — chemical / biological (e.g. pandemic). It’s an important part of one’s personal protective equipment (PPE) in this regard.
CBRN or NBC Approved Gas Mask for Nuclear Fallout (and Chemical – Biological)
Chemical – Biological – Radiological – Nuclear
Make sure it’s NBC or CBRN approved. That’s important.
The term CBRN is a replacement for the cold war term NBC (nuclear, biological, and chemical), which had replaced the term ABC (atomic, biological, and chemical) that was used in the fifties.
Gas Mask To Stop Alpha and Beta Radiation
Alpha and beta radiation. They are both low energy particles compared to very high energy gamma. Alpha being the lowest energy. In fact, alpha radiation is stopped by the skin on your body. Beta radiation can also be stopped by wearing heavy clothing (for example).
The problem is this… You don’t want to breath it! Why? Because once it gets inside your body, your internal organs will be radiated. That’s where a gas mask for nuclear radiation comes in.
Nuclear Fallout Cloud
A nuclear fallout cloud. Pulverized particles from the detonation interaction with the ground, buildings, etc. Radioactive dust. Alpha/Beta Radiation attaches with these particles. It will eventually settle across the affected land.
Following the explosion, nuclear fallout will be especially concentrated near the detonation zone. Other fallout will be suspended into the atmosphere. It will follow the wind current. Slowly, the effects of gravity and weather will bring it to the ground. It could go a long way.
Eventually the nuclear fallout will decay. That’s a good thing. See the section below about rate of decay (though you won’t like the part about cesium-137 or strontium-90).
Researched Results for the best gas mask for nuclear fallout:
This is one area where you do not want to settle for ‘cheap’, in my opinion. Cheap gas masks exist. But are you going to trust your life to it? MIRA SAFETY, definitely appears to be on top of this market. It is my personal recommendation if you’re researching for what might be the best choice.
MIRA SAFETY CM-6M CBRN Certified
(MIRA storefront on amzn)
“This is a reusable full-face respirator/gas mask originally designed for professional use in industrial, agricultural, police and rescue squads, and civil defense settings.”
- MIL Spec Construction
- “CE” in accordance with the EN 136:1998 standard, class III and EN 148-1
- Durable bromobutyl rubber construction (meets CBRN protection standards)
- Full-face panoramic design
- Polycarbonate visor
- Inner mask prevents fogging
- Fits up to 2 standard 40-mm 1/7” NATO filter cartridges
- Pre-installed hydration system and canteen
- Compatible with CamelBak water bladders with a Type M adapter
- 95% intelligibility of talk
- 5-year manufacturer warranty
Also, you will need gas mask filters (for nuclear fallout). They need to fit your specific mask. And, they too should be CBRN or NBC approved. The gas mask shown above will accommodate two filters, though you only need one to function. Here’s the NBC-77 SOF.
- Radioactive Dusts
- Chemical Warfare Agents
- Riot Control Agents
- Toxic Industrial Chemicals
- Radioactive Iodine
Certified CBRN filter 40 mm NATO with Longest shelf life: 20 years
(from MIRA Safety on amzn)
Rate of decay
Fallout gives off more than 50% of its energy in the first hour and continues to decay rapidly even after that initial hour.
For every 7-fold factor of time, there is a 10-fold decrease in nuclear dose rate.
Rate of Decay of the dose rate from radiation from fallout
(from the time of the explosion, not from the time of fallout deposition)
Listen, I’m not downplaying the effects! There’s way more to this. Probably the most serious threat is cesium-137, a gamma emitter with a half-life of 30 years! It is readily taken into the blood of animals and humans and may get into the tissue. Other hazards are strontium-90, an electron emitter with a half-life of 28 years!
Another example of the seriousness, besides the obvious immediate deaths within the blast zone, quoted from atomicarchive.com…
Most of the bomb-produced radionuclides decay rapidly. Even so, beyond the blast radius of the exploding weapons there would be areas (“hot spots”) the survivors could not enter. Why? Because of radioactive contamination from long-lived radioactive isotopes like strontium-90 or cesium-137, which can be concentrated through the food chain and incorporated into the body. The damage caused would be internal, with the injurious effects appearing over many years. For the survivors of a nuclear war, this lingering radiation hazard could represent a grave threat for as long as 1 to 5 years after the attack.
It is not my intent to get into all sorts of probable follow-on effects from a nuclear detonation. Rather, I’m simply pointing out the concept of a good, and possibly a best gas mask for nuclear fallout that may help in a temporary way. Perhaps while getting away. Or being within a fallout region that’s outside the red zone.
Who might need a gas mask for nuclear fallout?
- Those who live in proximity to a nuclear power reactor
- People who live near a region with a military facility
- Living near any nuclear target zone
Tip: A beard, facial hair. It’s a problem. Any face mask will not seal properly. You will be exposed.