Camping & Survival

Airborne Contaminant Survival

Concerns over contaminated radioactive airborne particles from the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster in Japan have prompted many in the area, and around the world, to take precautions against the possibility of breathing in “hot” particles. In this modern age, with Terrorism always a possibility, natural disasters, and frequent pandemic worries, it pays to be prepared against a variety of airborne contaminants.

The contaminants you prepare against will vary widely depending on the potential threats. Residents in an area that is near active volcanoes will need to be prepared against ash, while urban dwellers may be concerned with potential nuclear, biological, or chemical (NBC) attacks. It is virtually impossible (not to mention prohibitively expensive) to prepare for every scenario, so you must choose which threats are most likely.

The equipment you choose is dependent upon your budget and the perceived threat. The most common threat that people prepare for is biological: most virus pandemics, or weaponized biological agents are both effectively combated with a simple gas mask. It has been pointed out elsewhere on the internet that the N95 mask doesn’t filter out the viruses themselves; they are far too small to be filtered out individually. Luckily, most viruses are transmitted as they ride on small aerosol droplets from coughs and sneezes or contaminated dust particles. These are easily filtered out by the N95 masks.

These N95 masks do have drawbacks, as they are only 95% effective against airborne biological contaminants, and they are almost completely ineffective against chemical contaminants. With the exception of large particle contaminants, chemical contaminants easily penetrate these filters. What’s more, many chemical contaminants can be absorbed through mucous membranes in the eyes and nose. To protect against them, a more effective gas mask that seals against the face is needed. Our OM10 military gas mask is effective against chemical contaminants that are absorbed through or irritate the eyes and nose. It can protect the wearer from tear gas, mace, and other chemical agents.

For the ultimate in protection however, full NBC rated military gas masks are necessary. Make sure to keep an eye on the age of your filters, as they do deteriorate over time. We have 1990s manufactured NATO filters available in packs of three.

Don’t just prepare for outdoor protection – even the most modern houses are not airtight. While remaining indoors will help reduce your exposure to airborne contaminants, it will not completely protect you. There are ways to seal off your house in the event of an airborne contamination. It sounds silly, but simple duct tape and plastic sheeting is one of the most effective ways to reduce air leaks around doors and windows. Doors and windows let an enormous amount of air through. While this may not be a big deal for a pandemic, in the case of a weaponized biological agent, nuclear or chemical contamination, it is critically important to seal your dwelling as tightly as possible against outside airborne contaminants.

Protecting yourself against airborne contaminants isn’t terribly expensive, but you do need to have a plan. Identify the most likely threats you may face and take appropriate action so that you are able to protect yourself and your loved ones in case of disaster.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

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