U.S. Army scientist readies Soldiers’ masks for chem-bio hazards

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Sol­diers’ pro­tec­tive masks must be ready for the unfore­seen haz­ards of com­bat. The U.S. Army relies on the sci­en­tists of Edge­wood Chem­i­cal Bio­log­i­cal Cen­ter to design, engi­neer and test these crit­i­cal items.

Jadey Pare­ja, an Edge­wood Chem­i­cal Bio­log­i­cal Cen­ter chemist, leads five sci­en­tists in the Pro­tec­tive Equip­ment Test Branch who test and ana­lyze the car­bon mate­ri­als that will be inte­grat­ed into Sol­diers’ pro­tec­tive mask fil­ters.
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Jadey Pare­ja, an Edge­wood Chem­i­cal Bio­log­i­cal Cen­ter , or ECBC, chemist, leads five sci­en­tists in the Pro­tec­tive Equip­ment Test Branch who test and ana­lyze the car­bon mate­ri­als that will be inte­grat­ed into mask fil­ters. Her team aims to pro­vide the sci­en­tif­ic plat­form that shields America’s protectors. 

“Our mis­sion with­in our team is to pro­tect our pro­tec­tors,” Pare­ja said. “Every­thing we do with­in these walls is even­tu­al­ly going to be field­ed to the Sol­dier. If we don’t do some­thing prop­er­ly or miss one tiny step, it could ulti­mate­ly affect the life of some­one pro­tect­ing our country.” 

Pare­ja, the car­bon team leader, and her col­leagues test indi­vid­ual- and col­lec­tive-pro­tec­tion sys­tems for joint-ser­vice pro­grams. They ensure the car­bon com­po­nents meet the require­ments for equip­ment field­ed to Sol­diers, Marines, Air­men and Sailors. 


Pare­ja said she devel­oped a pas­sion for chem­istry with the encour­age­ment of her par­ents and teachers. 

“Sev­er­al teach­ers in mid­dle and high school were not only there to teach you but to sup­port you,” Pare­ja said. “I’ve always been a math and sci­ence hands-on per­son. I need­ed to be active and in the lab. I start­ed work­ing in a phar­ma­cy when I was 16 as a junior phar­ma­cy tech­ni­cian, and I loved it. I loved learn­ing about all the chem­i­cals, what drugs were made out of, every­thing about it.” 

Pare­ja grad­u­at­ed from Edge­wood High School and hoped to become a phar­ma­cist after earn­ing a bach­e­lor of sci­ence in chem­istry from Steven­son Uni­ver­si­ty in Bal­ti­more Coun­ty. How­ev­er, she returned to the area after col­lege to work at Aberdeen Prov­ing Ground, or APG, in 2002. She worked as a con­trac­tor until ECBC hired her in 2005. 

“Short­ly before going to phar­ma­cy school, I decid­ed it was­n’t the avenue I want­ed to pur­sue. I wound up work­ing at the place where I grew up,” she said. “Here I am work­ing in Edgewood.” 


Pare­ja stressed the strong bonds between sci­en­tists and engi­neers allow ECBC to deliv­er the best prod­ucts to the field. Her group com­ple­ments the work of the per­me­ation and mask teams with­in the Pro­tec­tive Equip­ment Test Branch to pro­vide pro­tec­tion from chem­i­cal and bio­log­i­cal hazards. 

“The mask team will test the masks as a com­plete end item with the car­bon fil­ter on them. We also have the per­me­ation team that tests the actu­al mate­r­i­al — suits, boots, gloves — that the Sol­dier will wear in the field,” she said. 

The car­bon team con­ducts sev­er­al tests on M‑18 and M‑12 fil­ters and C2A1 and M‑61 can­is­ters, Pare­ja said. It also taps into the wide knowl­edge base of sub­ject mat­ter experts across ECBC’s three directorates. 

“We do a lot of rou­tine test­ing, which has been designed by the Research and Tech­nol­o­gy Direc­torate. We work a lot of hands-on, side-by-side with them,” she said. “Once they per­fect a method, they pass it on to us. There is a lot of inter­ac­tion between the research side and engi­neer­ing side. We rely heav­i­ly on their expertise.” 

U.S. Army 

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