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    Feb 2012
    Independence Hall, Pennsylvania
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    Default Basics of CBRN Preparedness

    CBRN (Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear) Preparedness

    First and foremost I must say that if you are going to enter into an area contaminated by CBRN materials, you should if at all possible have a firm timeline and exit plan, a backup exit plan, as well as knowledge of the location of high ground near the zone that you can evacuate to in the event of equipment failure. You cannot change equipment in the contaminated area without becoming contaminated so planning beforehand is crucial and this means considering what the potential contaminants may be, and how long your gear is rated to last in those conditions.

    As an aside, I have tried to keep this accessible to everyone by trying to recommend reasonably priced items or provide reasonably priced options wherever possible. This is ultimately not a cheap thing to prepare for, so I urge you to ensure that you have the money to spend and/or are at risk of needing these things before you spend the money, especially if you have other areas of your preparedness stock that need attention.

    Special Note: MIRA Safety is a name that comes up often lately due to their marketing. Their products are rebranded items that have been marked up in price compared to the originals. The masks are older Czech designs for instance although they are effective. That being said, what you are essentially paying for is the ability to buy newly manufactured gear, the ease of being able to purchase accessories, and the constant availability of the products. For people who are looking for the most cost effective gear, or people who want more modern designs, there are often better options, but you must decide what is the most important factor to you. Their products have been included in the recommendations unless the original version is easily available at a lower price in which case the original has been listed with a notation that Mira also sells it.

    Gas Masks
    Masks must be recent production, not old military surplus (like old soviet style ones you see on eBay for instance) due to seals losing their effectiveness over long periods of times.

    Masks must be rated for CBRN protection; NBC is acceptable as it was the same rating pre-9/11. CBRN has upgraded capabilities to handle radiation vs the NBC rating.

    You must check to ensure that the mask seals properly on you (cover the inlet port and suck in; the mask should tighten to your face and no air should enter; there are machines that can check this more precisely but most people are unlikely to have access)
    In general, look for masks that take standard 40mm NATO filters, not proprietary designs as the filters for these are often harder to find and/or more expensive.
    You may end up buying used; this is fine. Make sure it was made in the last 15 years and seals properly when you receive it.

    List of gas masks that fit the criteria and are available to civilians (this is not an all inclusive list)
    -Forsheda A4 - $
    -Israeli 4A1 - $
    -Avon S10 -$$
    -Mestel SGE 400/3 BB CBRN - $$
    -Avon FM-12 - $$
    -Scott M120 - $$
    -Mira CM-6M - $$
    -Mira CM-7M - $$
    -Scott FRR - $$$
    -Avon C50 - $$$
    -Draeger CDR 4500 CBRN - $$$
    -M45 - $$$$
    -MSA Millennium CBRN Mask - $$$$

    Gas Mask Filters:
    There are many ratings for filters out there; to simplify, you want something that has at least A2B2E2K2-P3 printed on it. These are good multipurpose filters that provide protection against most threats you’ll potentially have to face. You’ll also want to see that the company has certified them as CBRN or NBC rated.

    The times you can use these filters is going to vary based on your environmental contamination levels. In a highly contaminated interior, you may need to change filters every hour. If you are outdoors, they may last anywhere from 8-24 hours. If you are unsure of the contamination levels, use the lower times for filter changes if possible and evacuate if at any time breathing becomes more difficult or you experience any adverse effects.

    You should never change filters within a contaminated area as you will be exposed to contamination. If, and only if, you find yourself trapped and unable to evacuate or escape and your filter is failing you have the option of moving to higher ground if possible, taking a breath, and holding it and swapping the filters. This is only to be used as an absolute last resort as it will expose you to contaminated air and only because a small amount of exposure is preferable to continuing to use a failed filter that will result in much more exposure. But you should always have a plan in advance to be able to get out in enough time before a filter failure, get somewhere outside and downwind of the contaminated area, and decontaminate before changing filters to avoid exposure.

    Where you buy the filter isn’t as important as making sure it is genuine, in-date, the proper 40mm NATO size, and sealed. Unsealed filters are useless after a year and buying or using them is a pointless endeavor outside of use as collectible pieces.

    Old filters sometimes found on eBay are not effective (and yes, a few models do contain asbestos) and should not be bought other than as a collectible piece.
    Unless specifically stated otherwise, assume filters have a 5 year shelf life from date of manufacture. They should be replaced after that time; keeping the older ones as backups is ok but always have a few in-date filters. Outside of exceptional emergency situations, out of date filters should only be considered usable for particulates.

    The commonly found Israeli filters do not meet the above criteria and are often out of date; buy at your own risk. Look for in-date Type 80s if you are dead set on buying these for some reason.

    Recommended Filters (This is not an all inclusive list):
    -Mestel Multipurpose
    -Scott Enforcement / Scott MPC Plus
    -Scott NBC
    -Mira NBC-77 (This is a good filter, with a longer than normal shelf life; it is also expensive and a rebranded Czek filter from a company called Avec; if you want to deal with importing you can get them for ⅓ of the price from overseas)
    -Mira DotPro 320 Filter (Same applies as above)
    -Honeywell Survivair CBRN
    -3M FR-15 CBRN
    -Dräger X-plore A2B2E2K2
    -3M FR57
    -Draeger RD40 CBRN

    Filters for particles/viral concerns only:
    -Israeli P3 Particulate Filter (Mira sells this rebranded for a bit more)
    -Scott Pro 2000 PF10 P3

    Powered Air Purifying Respirators (PAPR):
    If you have the money, buying a PAPR unit for your gas mask is a good move. It makes breathing, especially under exertion, much easier.
    They require batteries and a hose to work properly; most also require two filters when running.
    Having the ability to utilize AA batteries in the field is a nice capability to have on these systems

    Recommended PAPR Units (This is not an all inclusive list):
    -C420 (Various manufacturers; they are available on the used market, but you want to buy from a reputable source to ensure that they are functional. Additionally, you want to make sure that it comes with the necessary accessories of a hose, battery pack or battery adaptor, and a charger if it comes with a rechargeable battery)
    -Mira MB-90 (Due to the difficulty of finding affordable and known to be functioning C420 PAPR units on the used market, I do recommend this Mira product; it comes with a carrying pouch and all the necessary accessories)

    Special Note: For chlorine gas, and only chlorine gas, if you are in a situation where you do not have a mask, you can keep yourself alive for a time by urinating on a cloth or similar material and holding it to your face and breathing through it.

    Geiger Counters:
    Geiger counters detect levels of radiation around you; when shopping, you want to make sure that you get one with a high enough detection range as many cheap ones will fail or not provide readings in higher radiation environments (absolute minimum top range of 999 uSv but the higher the better). In short, you can stay affordable with these, but they are not something you want to cheap out on.

    There are different radiation measurements that are all in use so ensure you know what you are buying. I prefer to use Sieverts (uSv, mSv, Sv) but you must know what you are looking at so a bit of background reading will be required; the other most commonly used unit is Rems (generally 1 Rem = 100 Sieverts, so Rems are measured in smaller amounts such as millirems or microrems)

    To provide you with the very minimum background required: 1000 uSv = 1 mSv, 1000 mSv = 1 Sv. The readings provided by your geiger counter will typically be in the “per hour” format so you can use this to figure out your accumulated dose over time. 500-1000 mSv absorbed will lead to radiation sickness increasing in severity with dose and a small risk of death, 3000-6000 mSv absorbed will cause death in 50% of cases, and absorbing over 6000 mSv (or 6 Sieverts) will almost always result in death. Note that death is not always immediate following exposure. As you can see from this, detectors capable of functioning at higher levels will give you a better idea of your true risk as ones that max out at 1 mSv can give you a false sense of safety.

    Radiation cards like the RadTriage are of limited use as they darken over time naturally and expire as well as only telling you a delayed accumulated dose. A similar type of item, the NukAlert, is an option but it has multiple flaws and can give false readings; it also constantly chirps so keeping it on you in most situations is not always practical.

    Do not buy old Civil Defense models on eBay.
    The best geiger counters tend to come out of Russia, Ukraine, or Eastern Europe due to their relatively recent experience with Chernobyl.

    In this document, I have avoided providing specific product recommendations, but in this case I make an exception to recommend the Terra P or Terra P + (only get the plus model if you’re willing to learn how to use the expanded features and what they mean).

    Geiger Counter Recommendations (This is not an all inclusive list):
    -Terra P
    -Terra P + (Terra P Plus; goes up to 10 mSv/hour)
    -Soeks 112 (Mira sells these rebranded)
    -Gammarae II
    -Radiascan 701A

    Protective Garments:
    You will need protective garments that are rated to handle CBRN hazards. Please note that they are only rated to hold up a certain amount of time based on the threat encountered so if you expect to be exposed longer, you will need additional suits and a clean environment to change.

    There isn’t a standardized rating system for these; you will have to review the chemical permeability times to see what is acceptable to you.

    The Tyvek suits you can find at your local store will not be sufficient for all applications. They will offer some protection against certain biological threats as well as from fallout particles, but they are not rated to handle chemical exposure. This is a generalization, and you may be able to find more capable garments locally; always check and/or ask about its chemical permeability capabilities before purchasing for this purpose if chemicals or chemical warfare agents are a potential concern to you.

    You will need chemical resistant overboots and gloves in addition to an appropriate suit.

    These do have expiration dates. These are typically for manufacturer protection but it is something to keep in mind as protection levels will inevitably degrade over time. Finding expired gear is easy enough; in-date gear, outside of the Dupont, the overboots, and gloves, is harder.

    Protective Garment Recommendations:
    -Dupont Tychem 5000 (Mira sells these rebranded as do other companies)
    -Saratoga Hammer
    -JList CBRN
    -AirBoss Defense Overboots
    -AirBoss Defense Gloves
    -Mira Haz-Gloves

    SPECIAL NOTE: You will want to buy Kappler Chemtape to seal any openings or gaps in your protective gear; you may need it to seal around the mask and hood, your overboots, or gloves depending on the sizes and situation. There is not an acceptable substitute for this that you will have easy access to. It is not cheap, considering it is tape, but it is absolutely necessary.

    Additional Gear Considerations:
    -M256A1 Chemical Agent Detector Kit. This kit can help you identify exactly what chemicals are in the air and if it is safe to remove your gear. New, they are $300 but you can occasionally find them on eBay. Not an essential piece of gear, but it's nice to have.

    -Chemlights/Glow Sticks. Depending on your environment and the potential contamination, you may not want to risk a spark from a light or other electrical source. For these situations, having alternate, non-electrical, light sources is advantageous. Nice to have, but not essential.

    -Plastic Sheeting/Duct Tape - If you are making a kit for your home, consider adding these to provide additional seals on your windows/doors in your safe area to reduce the amount of fallout particles or other contamination that gets in. Not a must have, but a nice addition to a home kit.

    -Fibertect Wipes - These wipes are designed to absorb and remove chemical warfare agents from the skin; they are available online and should be in your kit if exposure to chemicals is potentially a concern to you.

    -M295 Decontamination Kit - These kits are Fibertect based mitts but with an added absorption agent. These are sometimes available online, but finding ones that are in-date can be a challenge. Mira sells a similar product called the MDG-1 Personal Decontamination Glove which is an acceptable substitute.

    CBRN Related Medications:
    -Potassium Iodide Pills - If you are concerned about potential radiation, these are a must have. They saturate your thyroid so it cannot absorb radioactive iodine, which can cause problems in the body even within radiation absorption limits. Recommended dosage is 130mg per day for adults. You can get these easily online with no prescription.
    -Nerve Agent Auto Injectors - These autoinjectors are used in the event of exposure to a nerve agent. They are often administered as 2mg of Atropine, alongside 600mg of Pralidoxime and, in the case of seizures, 10mg of Diazepam. These medicines are very difficult to come by without a prescription and Atropine can be dangerous if used improperly. Almost all autoinjectors you will see for sale are empty and sold for collectible purposes only and will not be of any use in CBRN preparedness.

    Anthrax Related - Anthrax exposure is commonly treated by antibiotics such as Ciprofloxacin and Doxycycline. These antibiotics are still fairly easy to get from animal supply stores or online as fish related medicine. There are also antitoxins available for inhaled anthrax which are Obiltoxaximab and Raxibacumab; these will be extremely difficult to come by as a civilian and getting any kind of prescription for them is extremely unlikely.

    Poisoning - The most widely effective, easily available, ingested poison treatment is activated Charcoal. The minimum dosage for this purpose as an adult is 50 grams, in a suspended liquid solution. Avoid the capsules or administering unsuspended powder. These solutions are readily available online.

    Reactive Skin Decontamination Lotion (RSDL) - These lotion wipes are used for the decontamination of bare skin with no wounds. They are effective against a variety of chemical warfare agents, and RSDL kits are available to order online.

    Special Note - Decontamination

    In my experience, this is not something that many people think much about in these scenarios. It is, however, very important. Gear and anything that may have been exposed must be decontaminated.

    Fortunately, there is a relatively simple solution to this problem. An extremely effective decontamination solution can be made by mixing 1 part 5% bleach (Sodium Hypochlorite) to 9 parts water (1:10). This can be used for immersion or on surfaces and must be applied for 10 minutes. This will neutralize most chemical and biological threats. It can also be used on the skin in the event of a suit breach, but should be kept away from the eyes and mucus membranes.

    For this reason, you should always make sure you have a supply of 5% bleach on hand; its shelf life is usually six months to a year depending on how it is stored, so make sure to rotate it regularly. It loses approximately 20% effectiveness per year after that time making it difficult to ascertain the proper decontamination ratio.

    Effective decontamination solutions for exposed skin include RSDL kits, the M295 Decontamination Kit, the Mira MDG-1 Personal Decontamination Glove or Fibertect wipes. Dawn dish soap may be used for biological or nerve agent contamination

    Special Note - Radiation

    The gear and other items listed above can help mitigate and provide some protection against the effects of nuclear exposure, but they will NOT block anything more than Alpha radiation. You can block out the particles, but you are still absorbing radiation. The only way to reduce or block radiation is by gaining distance from the contamination, putting solid objects or blockers (walls, concrete, dirt, lead, steel, ect…) between you and the radiation, and time elapsing post-contamination. I want to be very clear on this point: there is no suit or other gear that will protect you from the effects of ionizing Gamma radiation or all the effects of Beta radiation. It is imperative therefore that unless absolutely necessary you shelter in place in a structure, with as much between you and the outside as possible, until you are able to confirm relatively safe levels of radiation (or at the very least survivable without getting radiation sickness) with your Geiger counter before leaving shelter or entering a contaminated area.
    Last edited by GeneralWashington; January 14th, 2022 at 03:32 AM.

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