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CBRN Defense

Discussion in 'Survival' started by S.R. Crawford, Jan 17, 2021.

  1. S.R. Crawford

    S.R. Crawford .410

    Messages:
    79
    CBRN, previously called NBC, stands for Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear. In short, it encompasses the variety of threats that require a gas mask. A CBRN event alone constitutes a serious SHTF scenario in anyone's book, and in an otherwise unrelated SHTF scenario there is a high possibility of a CBRN event taking place and making a bad situation worse. Only a few years ago a fire in Santa Clarita, Ca (less than 60 miles from me) set a large amount of chlorine on fire, releasing it into the air as a gas threatening first responders. CS Agent (tear gas) also falls under the CBRN spectrum and is defended against using similar equipment. Trucking accidents are fairly common and many involve hazardous chemicals.

    I just want to give a rundown of CBRN defense and some recommendations, do note I do not claim to be a professional expert and this is solely my own understanding of the subject based on what I have learned from actual experts. I will post reference material at the end of this writeup.


    Definitions of CBRN:

    Information from Guidebook for Marines 21st- edition

    I. Chemical

    Chemical threats are toxic agents used for a variety of purposes. Weaponized chemicals include gases such as chlorine and VX Agent (nerve gas) and are outlawed under numerous treaties including the Geneva Convention, however they are not difficult to synthesize. Industrial chemicals can pose significant risk in the event of an accident or spill, which is far more likely than an actual attack. Many are highly reactive and can form explosive compounds with gases already present in the air. Since many take the form of a gas most chemicals will require at least a respirator to protect against, many more dangerous agents (nerve agents, blister agents) will harm on contact and require a full suit. Some gases, such as chlorine, displace oxygen and require a self-contained breathing unit.

    II. Biological

    Biological threats consist of disease-causing pathogens. Weaponized diseases are also outlawed by numerous treaties and are very difficult to create. Again, any significant outbreak in the US is likely to be accidental (or "accidental") and non-military. A respirator provides more than enough defense against most pathogens, however a full suit is recommended for close contact with patients or disease-bearing fluids. Recommended protection can vary depending on the method by which a threat is transmitted.

    III. Radiological

    Radiological threats are radiation or radioactive materials, typically in the form of fallout. A good example is a dirty bomb, a nuclear device which produces a small, localized detonation but produces large amounts of radioactive fallout. A full suit is recommended for long-term exposure however simply avoiding exposed skin goes a long way. Inhalation is the biggest threat- a respirator is most important. Avoiding exposure is key, remain under cover if at all possible. Radiological threats are typically very rare, a nuclear airburst (most bombs) will produce little fallout and there are only two reactor meltdowns on record. Natural disasters such as earthquakes can cause complications however, as seen at Fukushima, Japan in 2015.

    IV. Nuclear

    Nuclear threats are posed by actual nuclear detonations. Nuclear defense consists of surviving the initial blast and the accompanying radiation, most of which is thermal. Again, avoiding exposure is key. The initial blast will produce a large shockwave and massive amounts of thermal radiation. Thermal radiation will burn exposed skin (the kind where your flesh peels off in chunks) but is a line of sight effect. Seek protection in a trench or foxhole away from potential debris to protect from both the shockwave and heat.


    The single best practice to survive a CBRN incident:

    Leave the area. Protective equipment will help you survive an event, however it should be used only as a means of escape. This isn't S.T.A.L.K.E.R, we have no business intentionally entering a contaminated area for any reason.
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2021
    meanstreak, Scoop, CanuckBuck and 3 others like this.
  2. S.R. Crawford

    S.R. Crawford .410

    Messages:
    79
    Protective Equipment:

    Information from Guidebook for Marines- 21st edition and independent research

    I. Respirator

    The respirator or protective mask (pro mask) is possibly the most important piece of CBRN protective equipment. Often incorrectly called a gas mask, it prevents inhalation of harmful substances. Threats such as fallout and pathogens as well as some chemicals can be survived for at least a short time without a full suit, however the same cannot be said for the mask.
    The majority of respirators work by filtering outside air through a layer of activated charcoal. A good charcoal filter can soak up the vast majority of harmful agents and what isn't removed by the charcoal is filtered out by HEPA filters.

    There are a significant number of reliable CBRN masks available on the civilian market. While typically the most expensive part of a CBRN kit they are worth the investment. Every mask has benefits and weaknesses and there is no perfect mask, however some are certainly more ideal than others. Some key points to consider are filter compatibility, material (protection), comfort, and price.
    Most masks are compatible with NATO 40mm filters allowing the user to customize the level of protection to the threat at hand. With this in mind the mask's material becomes more important. Many chemical agents will eat straight through common rubbers, and latex is a definite no-go. Comfort is a bit less important, after a few hours all masks feel equally terrible. Still worth thinking about though, some masks can chafe and helmet-style designs trap a lot of heat. Also consider the shape of the mask if you plan on using a rifle while wearing it, a bulky integrated side-filter mask like the M50 can be difficult to aim down sights with.
    Most masks sit in at least the $100 price range. You can get deals for less but that's usually less than current market value. I paid $60 for my M40 on Offerup, current value is about a solid $150.

    Probably the two best brands for masks are Avon and Mira Safety, but both are really expensive. CGreat for military and fire use but too expensive for most of us. an be had used for a few hundred usually. Avon makes the M50 in use with the US Military and the FM53, they offer excellent protection but use proprietary filters. The C50 is an M50 fitted for 40mm filters. The Avon FM12 and S10 in use with Britain are great for those who prefer NATO filters. Mira is a reseller of the Czech CM series in use with Euro militaries, the CM-7M is their top of the line product and uses 40mm filters. These are high tier masks, just a bit above everything else. Protection wise they use the same filters as everything else but they are really comfortable and offer excellent visibility. Think of it like buying a really expensive plate carrier, or a Ferrari. What sets these masks apart is the ability to use self contained breathing apparatus (scuba tanks), or SCBA, and PAPR. A PAPR system lightly pumps filtered air into the mask to make breathing easier over long periods. Most 40mm masks can run with SCBA/PAPR but it may not be healthy for the valves.

    Gucci Tier:
    Avon M50- proprietary filters, no SCBA/PAPR
    Avon C50- 40mm NATO
    Avon FM53- proprietary filters
    Avon FM12- 40mm NATO
    Avon S10- 40MM NATO
    Mira CM-7M- 40mm NATO
    Mira CM-6M- 40mm NATO
    Forsheda A4- 40mm NATO
    Air Boss LBM- 40mm NATO

    Military surplus (or military grade) masks are great for those of us without 7-figure paychecks. These usually can be had for under $300, most are around $200 at the most. Protection is usually great despite the lower price, some require a "second skin" fitted over it to offer full protection. This isn't a big deal as it's usually included with the mask.
    My personal favorite (on paper at least) is the M40. I'm still waiting for mine to arrive so I can test for fit but it offers excellent protection at a decent price point. Plus, it looks sweet. Typically sells for about $150. It does require a second skin but these have been in service for so long that it's harder to get them without it. It is typically used as a reference point for other masks, if something is "as good" as an M40 it's considered ideal.
    MSA also makes some great masks at a decent price. The MSA Millenium is an improved version of the Air Force MCU-2P and uses NATO 40mm filters. The visor is massive with excellent visibility but makes you look like a '60s comic book spaceman. The MSA Ultra Elite is another one of my favorites. It's designed for use with SCBA for firefighters but can accept 40mm filters. It also has a large clear visor and is relatively streamlined when used with a hose. These are very common and used masks are often sold by fire departments that are replacing them, if you scan ebay long enough you can get them for about $50.
    The Drager M65 can also be had for pretty cheap but it uses glass lenses which can be dangerous. Some newer Russian (not Soviet) masks can also be alright if you get the right ones.

    Standard Tier:
    M40- 40mm NATO, second skin
    MSA Millenium- 40mm NATO, excellent visibilty
    MCU-2P- 40mm NATO, second skin, predecessor to Millenium
    MSA Ultra Elite- 40mm NATO, SCBA/PAPR, excellent visibility, great value
    Drager M65- 40mm NATO, glass lenses
    Scott M95- 40mm NATO
    MP5- 40mm NATO, good visibility

    There are certainly some masks to avoid. Many older or vintage masks do not offer any decent protection against modern threats. Soviet masks especially are to be avoided. Many can be had for dirt cheap (I think I paid $5 for my GP-5), which makes them tempting when compared to the 3-digit price tags of better masks, however they simply do not offer protection against any real threat. Many are made of latex which is ineffective against many chemical threats. The valves are also poorly constructed and tend to leak. Furthermore, many use metal extensively which can be dangerous in a radiological environment. Some can be comfortable but many are not, and while most of the masks above feature a "voicemitter" to allow the wearer to speak clearly many of the cheaper masks do not, making communication impossible. I will admit I do own several of these but I have no intention of ever using them. I won't even list the filter sizes for these as it can be dangerous to even breathe through these things due to asbestos used as a filtering agent. It's usually safe if the HEPA filters are intact but most filters are so old it's impossible to tell. Most use 40mm GOST threads.

    Most of these masks can be sweet collector's items however, if that's your thing go for it (it is mine). Just don't expect to use it. I personally own a 2nd Generation GP-4 made in 1956 that I am very proud of.

    Crap Tier:
    Anything Soviet or CHICOM-
    GP-5
    GP-4
    GP-7
    Anything made before the Vietnam War
    2-liter bottle full of cotton balls (yes people have tried this, no it doesn't work)
    Half masks (masks that don't cover the full face)
    Fabric masks/bandanas/surgical masks (Thanks, CDC. And you wonder why I don't trust you guys.)

    Honorable Mention:
    US M17- Great for tear gas, filters can be cheap too. Not good for much else however. This goes for M17 variants as well- Czech M10, etc.
    XM-28- Great for tear gas but filters cannot be replaced. Most were demilled after Vietnam, if you can find one that's usable BUY IT, these are awesome collector's items and rarer than hen's teeth. Also, looks awesome.


    II. Suit

    Protective suits are much more straightforward than respirators. Most are made of fabric with a charcoal layer on the inside. The fabric is much more comfortable that a solid rubber suit and the charcoal offers all the protection you need. The JSLIST, commonly called MOPP Gear, is probably one of the best suits we can get. They're pretty cheap and offer all the protection anyone really needs, you can get a full suit for less than $100. Some versions come with a hood built in, others require a separate hood that can be had for about $5 at any surplus store. As with most suits it is worn over your clothing, wearing the suit by itself will turn you black as your sweat mixes with the charcoal. Ask me how I know. The British also make some great suits, the Mk.IV is always a good bet. I personally have a Mk.III and can say it's very comfortable, although the outer fabric is a bit light compared to MOPP gear. There's a ton of other suits available for various prices, most worth mentioning are more expensive than the one's I've mentioned and offer protection against things none of us have any business dealing with. A word of caution when dealing with charcoal suits- they do expire just the same as a filter and for the same reason. They come vacuum sealed from the factory but once opened they are single use. Rubberized suits offer excellent protection from most agents but can be slightly more uncomfortable than a charcoal suit as they don't breathe at all.

    Be sure to get decent gloves and overboots. There's a bit of variety on the brands available but it's all pretty much the same. Usually a rubber outer layer and a charcoal or fabric inner layer. If using a backpack get a liner to cover it, that way you won't have to decon your bag and can save time.

    Suits:
    JSLIST (MOPP Gear)- affordable, common, lasts a long time, "the bees knees for us civilians"
    Mk.III- affordable, common, lightweight
    Mk.IV- affordable, common, great protection
    Mira Haz-Suit- rubber so won't protect against corrosives, excellent protection against everything else
    Lion ICG Suit- easy to find, expensive, can be bulky
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2021
  3. S.R. Crawford

    S.R. Crawford .410

    Messages:
    79
    Sources:

    Guidebook for Marines- 21st Edition-
    https://marineshop.net/product/guidebook-for-marines-pb-0940328151/

    Joint Publication 3-11, Operations in Chemical,Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) Environments-
    https://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/policy/dod/joint/jp3_11_2008.pdf

    Active Duty US Military CBRN Specialists (USAF, US Army)-
    instagram @feelthecbrn

    This started as a basic overview and I got a bit carried away. Not a bad way to spend an evening though, I hope someone finds this useful. I'll post more information on detection kits and decontamination if anyone's curious enough.

    TLDR-
    I found a new hobby
  4. John A.

    John A. Unconstitutional laws are not laws. Staff Member Administrator Global Moderator

    Messages:
    15,223
    All very good information.

    I need to look at the dates on some of my gear.

    Quick question for you.

    If you have an unused and sealed filter/canister, how important are the "expiration dates"?

    I realize that they're there for good reason to rotate stock, but realistically, in a controlled environment, charcoal and such (especially if still hermetically sealed) should not degrade to a large extent.

    But I would like to get other opinions as well. There may be more at issue than my current train of thought. Much like the "best by" dates on salt and water, which are literally millions and billions of years old in the first place.
  5. S.R. Crawford

    S.R. Crawford .410

    Messages:
    79
    From what I've heard typically expired filters are considered no good for professional use but I think it's more of a liability thing, just trying to avoid a "potential" risk that doesn't need to happen. The newer NATO filters don't really expire and are usually good as long as they aren't damaged and have never been opened. I'd say the same goes for suits too.

    The biggest factor here is moisture and humidity, but only if the packaging has been compromised. Even then it will only effect the charcoal, the HEPA filter will still be good against particulates like tear gas.
  6. John A.

    John A. Unconstitutional laws are not laws. Staff Member Administrator Global Moderator

    Messages:
    15,223
    I have a few n95 respirator masks, but I also have a few nato/gov nbc masks too. The gov masks have sealed filters.
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  7. CanuckBuck

    CanuckBuck .410

    Messages:
    76
    I have been wanting to prepare for such an event for a while, and seeing how things are going these days - I think now is the time to get more prepared than ever.

    There are many websites on the internet selling masks and suits, but I have read that not all websites are reliable. Some sell expired items and advertise them as new, and so on...

    I can also visit my local surplus shop, but not sure what they have in stock- as I don't venture in there too often.

    Does anybody know of reliable websites I can visit, in order to buy a couple of kits?

    EDIT TO ADD: I would personally attempt to seal my kit in Food Saver bags... The food saver works good enough to keep my meat fresh, so why not a kit!?
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  8. S.R. Crawford

    S.R. Crawford .410

    Messages:
    79
    Unfortunately with the condition the market is in right now it's hard to find reputable sellers. Prices are a little hard too and it's hard to find good stock, I really had to search just to find an M40 at a decent price. Rule of thumb for buying gear right now is "wherever you can." I've used ebay a few times but you do need to know exactly what you're looking for to avoid getting a bad product.
    Surplus stores are always a good bet for filters, most have at least a small stock of CBRN gear and you can inspect items beforehand. If they have anything at all it's pretty much a guarantee that they'll have NATO or US filters as they're super common in the US. As I said earlier, the Western post-Cold War filters don't really expire so you can usually find something that's good to go.
    I also just found out the Numrich Gun Parts has a decent selection, they're selling Canadian C-3 masks for $40 which is a phenomenal price for that mask. It's based on the Avon S-10 I believe but it takes 60mm filters. You can get adapters so it can take 40mms, Numrich also sells them for $12.

    I like the food saver idea, far too few people think about that sort of thing. If you have the time you could even try making jerky, it'll keep even longer. I'd be sure to keep it in a protected bag in the event of a CBRN incident, if it gets contaminated it's no good. A lot of European militaries use rubberized nylon bags and rucksacks, they're usually pretty cheap and easy to get.
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  9. John A.

    John A. Unconstitutional laws are not laws. Staff Member Administrator Global Moderator

    Messages:
    15,223
    I use a foodsaver vacuum bags and also store inside of a 5 gallon bucket.

    Some bags come in rolls that you can cut to size and seal. Others come pre-formed in quart up to 5 gallon size.

    I have some large mylar bags that even has a zipper seal that you can use a heat seal above the ziplock too. I bought the mylar bags more to store electronics than anything but will work for anything.
  10. CanuckBuck

    CanuckBuck .410

    Messages:
    76
    The jerky is a good idea. My girlfriend has a dehydrator and hopefully when I bag my next buck or turkey, I can put it to use!

    It is ironic that Numrich Gun Parts won't ship a Canadian mask back to Canada. Lol. But yes, they do offer it at a very good price point.

    I will have to do further research to find something either here in Canada, or something that will ship to Canada.

    I appreciate your post tho! Thank you S.R.!
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  11. S.R. Crawford

    S.R. Crawford .410

    Messages:
    79
    My M40 finally arrived. So far it's my favorite mask that I've owned, this thing is awesome. Granted I've only owned some older Soviet masks before, plus an Israeli civilian one that didn't fit me.

    IMG_20210120_144527.jpg

    One thing I haven't mentioned about masks is air displacement. Any good mask is going to be easy to breathe out of, all of mine so far aren't. The M40 probably isn't as good as some of the Mira or Avon masks but compared to what I had before it's awesome. It isn't too bulky but does have some weight to it, that's the issue with second skin masks. It fits me pretty well, it seals easily and I don't have to overtighten the straps to keep it that way.

    I always do a complete disassembly and cleaning of masks I buy. This one was fairly easy to take apart, but there are a lot more parts than I'm used to. I cleaned it with soap and warm water and rinsed everything out before drying each piece individually and reassembling. This got rid of all the dust and dirt but it still smells like cigarettes. I'm going to rub a very conservative amount of scented oil in the nose cup to help with the smell, this can actually be a good practice with most masks so you don't smell like rubber after wearing it for hours on a hot day.

    I'm looking at getting some Polish MP5 filters for it, the C2A1s it was issued with aren't good against a lot of industrial agents. The Polish filters are still in use with NATO and can be fairly cheap to get.

    Attached Files:

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  12. S.R. Crawford

    S.R. Crawford .410

    Messages:
    79
    Got a filter for the M40 today. I just wanted a throw-away that I could use for training, once it's opened and on the mask they expire fairly quickly. I've marked it "CS Only" which is the only real threat I'll be using it for.
    Numrich sells these filters as "M38" filters because they kind of look like the filters for the WWII M38 gas mask, however they are definitely not. They are for the Drager M65, which is an older NATO CBRN mask. These filters may or may not work anymore but they are NATO grade, just old. This one was made in 1987.

    IMG_20210125_171954.jpg
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2021

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