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VALIDATION OF AN INNOVATIVE SENSOR SYSTEM FOR GASMASKS TO PROTECT THE USER AGAINST HEALTH HAZARDS

Objective

In the field of workers' safety, protective gasmasks play a major role as life saving equipment. However the use of such masks currently presents specific hazards. The most obvious case is that if the mask slips and the seal of the mask leaks: the wearer finds himself in an environment which is highly toxic. Similarly, long-term hazards occur which often go undetected when protection is interrupted (leaky or inefficient filter) but where the immediate effect on humans is not perceptible. In order to avoid the risk of using unsafe gasmasks, filters are usually changed too early, which increases the costs. In addition, the gasmask user has to endure a heavy psychological burden because he has to trust the gasmask but no on-line system exists to warn him in case of gasmask failure.

The objective of the project was to validate an innovative mobile and self-monitoring sensor system and its integration within gasmasks. Research results had shown that an improved sensor system was able to detect toxic substances. However, the difficulty lies in how to adapt and optimize the sensor system to various gases.
The applications focused on include users in the chemical industry, public and factory fire brigades, and other private security services.

The project attempted to address the three main obstacles to the manufacturing of a marketable product :

- adaptation of a sensor for use in a gasmask.
- miniaturisation of the sensor to fit inside mask.
- improvements power sources and battery life for mobile on-line operation, both for sensor and electronics.

The technical requirements with regards to the design of the system were extremely high. Apart from the adaptation of a broad-band sensor element, the miniaturisation of the sensor system and its mobile operation also had to be guaranteed in all operating conditions. In extreme situations such as heat, smoke or air pollution, a number of functions had to be tested. The applications focused on users in the chemical industry, public and factory fire brigades, and other private security services.

An improved technical solution in this field would lead to:
- improved protection of human health and lives
- lower operational costs for gasmasks (reduced number of filter changes)
- reduced psychological burden for gasmask wearer in dangerous situations
- long term cost reduction in health care.

Coordinator

SOCIÉTÉ NOUVELLE D'ARTICLES DE PROTECTION SA
Address
58 Avenue De La Ferté Milon
02600 Villers Cotterêts
France