Introduction: The traditional method used to evaluate escape masks has been to examine the composition of the inspired gas, although arterial carbon dioxide (CO2) and oxygen (O2) would be more relevant physiological parameters. The recent development of reliable, fast-responding transcutaneous CO2 detectors makes it possible to evaluate arterial CO2 and O2 saturation. The CAPS 2000 escape mask was designed to protect the head and respiratory system from chemical or biological attack. The question arises of whether there might be a risk of dangerous hypoxia- hypercapnia in rebreathing from the mask because of leakage of the expired gas from the nose-cup into the hood, although theoretical considerations rule this out.We studied a worst case scenario. Methods: Nine subjects wore the CAPS 2000 for 15 minutes after removal of the inspiratory valves. A mass spectrometer and transcutaneous sensor were used to measure O2 and CO2, arterial O2 saturation, and arterial partial pressure of CO2 (PCO2). Results: Blood oxygen saturation decreased from an initial value of 98.4% to 96.2% at 2 minutes, subsequently rising and stabilizing at a level similar to control. Subcutaneous PCO2 rose from the control level of 36 to 43 torr after 5 minutes, then decreased to 42 torr and stabilized at that level. Inspired PO2 dropped from 21% to 16% at 3 to 4 minutes, rose to 17% at 8 minutes, and stabilized thereafter. Inspired PCO2 rose to 3% in the first minute and continued to rise to 3.5% at 3 minutes, after which it slowly decreased to 3% and stabilized at that level. Discussion: The transcutaneous CO2 detector provided a true indication of the physiological state of the subject, and these parameters are sufficient on their own for the evaluation of breathing masks. CO2 and O2 did not reach dangerous levels with the inspiratory valves removed from the CAPS 2000 mask.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health