Although gas masks are an essential type of head gear when it comes to dealing with most (if not all) types of viruses, gases, fumes and smokes, things get a littler more complicated when they are required by users to work underwater.
Instead of a gas mask, the best solution for going underwater, is to look for masks that are specifically designed for the particular purpose. The best gas masks for breathing underwater are called diving masks (or snorkel masks), and they can easily be found online in the big marketplaces.
For your convenience, we found 3 of the best full face diving masks, and we recommend them to you in the following list:
These are the 3 snorkel mask models that will work great for underwater use, especially for beginners, since they are extremely effective and they come in very affordable prices. Keep in mind, that they must be used INSTEAD of a gas mask, and NOT with your gas mask or respirator.
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Can a gas mask work underwater?
The reality is that gas masks cannot work underwater, because their filters cannot handle the water pressure. Along with that, the mask filters are not able to purify the oxygen found in the water, which is why they are not able to provide the user with fresh, breathable air under water.
Essentially, when used in or under the water, the gas mask filter will more likely be completely destroyed. The filters of common protective masks contain membranes, whose purpose is to absorb the air in order to captures the particles and trap them.
Since this is the fact, water is going to be absorbed by these membranes, and it is going to be trapped inside the filters. The water is going to cause permanent damage to the filter, making it inefficient when it comes to absorbing and holding the particles that need to be purified.
All in all, the purifying system of a gas mask is not waterproof. They cant handle the weight and pressure of the water no matter the depth, and once the filters get wet they are not going to be able to offer proper filtering for other purposes too, such as chemical adsorption etc.
What are the dangers of using a gas mask underwater?
If we had to find one type of gas mask that could work underwater, then SCBA masks would be the most appropriate type. They are designed for rough, unbreathable environments with significant lack of oxygen, and this is the reason why they would possible be useful for light underwater usage.
Such types of gas masks are called Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA), and they are mostly used by firefighters when they have to enter burning areas with high amounts of smoke and heat. However, they are not recommended for underwater use by the manufacturers, since they can cause issues when used in the water.
If you need to a gas mask for small depths and for a short period of time, then the SCBA masks are the only ideal solution. You can take advantage of the high pressure canned air, and use the mask lightly in small depths, for no more than 15 to 20 minutes.
That said, the dangers of using a gas mask instead of a diving or a snorkel mask are too many. The water is going to reach the filters, destroy the membranes that are used to trap the particles and prepare them for purification, and it is more than certain that is going to cause permanent damage to the majority of conventional gas masks.
What is more, since the purification of water does not work the same as the purification of air, there is a high possibility that you are going to face a bubble effect. What this means, is that using a common gas mask underwater, the gas mask is going to produce bubbles when you try to inhale, making it impossible to breathe.
Last but not least, gas masks and respirators are not designed to work underwater. Technically, when you try to use a gas mask in the water, most of the mechanisms are not going to work properly under its pressure, causing issues with the breathing and visibility.
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What is the best type of mask for underwater use?
When it comes to underwater use, the best solution is using a full face diving mask for maximum protection. There are diving masks available in the market within all price ranges, starting from extremely affordable ones for beginners and going up depending on the intended use (if you are a professional divers for instance).
A great mask model for underwater use is the Ocean Reef G Divers Full Face Mask which you can check out here. It is a full face mask used by professional divers, and it has a integrated regulator and a low pressure hose for reliability and stability underwater.
The material used by the manufacturer to create the particular diving mask, was silicone rubber. This is the reason why this mask is significantly comfortable and easy to wear, making it possible to fit on every shape and size of head without much effort.
It is the absolute diving mask model when it comes to applications that require bigger depths, where the pressure of the water is more powerful. The straps allow the user to adjust the mask to their liking, and the large viewing area provides better control under water.
Should a gas mask used in the water?
The short answer is no. It is not recommended by the manufacturers, because gas masks are designed for applications that take place over ground, and they are intended to trap contaminated air, isolate the hazardous particles and provide the user with purified, clean air.
The best practice, is using gas masks in polluted or contaminated areas where the air is unbreathable, in contrast to diving or snorkel masks which can be used underwater with the purpose of providing constant air supply to the diver.
Gas masks are not the best solution when it comes to breathing oxygen underwater. Ideally, they are great for applications that require air purification, and take place over the surface.
Users that want to breathe underwater, should look for snorkel masks, or full face diving masks for more serious situations, such as bigger depths, or higher water pressure.
Remember, before purchasing a mask for underwater use, always test it first and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for proper usage.
Stay protected under and over the water!