The British government believed that some forms of toxic gas would be used in the civilian population during the war. The government issued a warning on September 3, 1939, that people had to go to the nearest air streaming shelter during the bombing attack: “If the toxic gas has been used, you will be warned with a hand chopped.
If you hear hand rattles do not leave your shelter until the poison gas has been cleared away. Hand bells will tell you when there is no longer any danger from poison gas. Because it was decided to issue a gas mask to everyone who lived in England more than 38 million gas masks were distributed to regional centers.
Gas masks contained chrysotile (white asbestos) or crocidolite (blue asbestos) in their filters. While the mask is effective in terms of being able to filter poisonous gas such as mustard gas, fosgene or chlorine gas, the filter is actually very dangerous for humans because then it is found that exposure to asbestos can cause asbestosis, lung cancer, and a number of deadly diseases and Can’t be healed.
The gas mask was produced by a company in Blackburn and after the war factory workers making the masks started showing abnormally high numbers of deaths from cancer. Tests showed that asbestos fibres can also be inhaled by wearing the masks. However, it was at late as May 2014 that the Health and Safety Executive issued a warning to schools that they should not let children touch or try on gas masks as they contained asbestos.