For years, the Department of Defense has sought a single decontaminant effective against chemical and biological agents for decontaminating tactical vehicles, ship surfaces and weapons. Requirements included compatibility with current applicators, direct application to the contaminated surface and effectiveness within 30 minutes of applying.
One requirement is that the current M50 gas mask, in use by all services, not be affected by the JGPD-HME decontaminant under consideration.
"We expose the M50 to JGPD-HME because of the requirements that the decontaminant not degrade the equipment worn by the user to an unacceptable level," said Andrew Neafsey, test officer.
Because decontamination of vehicles and large areas is by nature messy, there is concern that Warfighters will have their mask hit by overspray.
To test the M50's exposure to the considered decontaminant with authenticity, Dugway uses the Simulant Agent Resistance Test Manikin (SMARTMAN) test fixture. A replicated human head, complete with computer replicated breathing through mouth, SMARTMAN wears an M50 mask within a small, industrially filtered chamber.
"The M50 provides outstanding protection against a variety of challenges," Neafsey noted. "Masks will be monitored after initial exposure, and throughout the trial duration to confirm that no degradation takes place."
Using SMARTMAN, a crucial test fixture at Dugway for decades, realistic challenge of the M50 gas mask will help protect American Warfighters and their allies should JGPD-HME become a widely distributed decontaminant.