Can a Dust Mask Protect From Asbestos?

Asbestos is quite hazardous. Inhaling or ingesting asbestos can lead to various illnesses like mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer. Because of this, it is vital for people at risk of encountering asbestos to protect themselves. For construction workers and carpenters, for instance, wearing a dust mask protects them from dust and dirt. A dust mask is a standard part of PPE in many workplaces. But can a dust mask protect from asbestos?

The general rule is that a dust mask is insufficient to protect from asbestos. A simple dust mask may not be enough to prevent a person from developing an asbestos-related illness like mesothelioma. Indeed, a dust mask may stop some asbestos fibers, but it is not enough. It is best not to trust a dust mask to protect from asbestos and asbestos-related illnesses.

The Risk of Asbestos

Many young people do not know about asbestos and the dangers that this substance poses. Before 1980, asbestos was widely used in various industries because of its properties. For example, asbestos was mainly used for insulation because of its fiber strength and heat resistance. It was used to insulate pipes, homes, boilers, and anything else that needed insulation. It is estimated that between 1900 and 1980, over 30 million tons of asbestos were used.

It was shocking to many when it was discovered that asbestos exposure is responsible for serious diseases like mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer. When asbestos is disturbed, asbestos fibers become airborne. Inhaling or ingesting airborne asbestos fibers is what causes diseases.

Any amount of asbestos exposure can result in an illness, but usually, the longer the exposure, the more the risk of illness. So people who work with asbestos or asbestos-contaminated products daily, such as construction workers, are at significant risk of developing asbestos-related diseases.

What Should Be Worn Instead of Dust Masks?

Unfortunately, many workers believe a dust mask is enough to protect them from asbestos. Others even believe bandanas and neck gaiters can protect them from asbestos. According to the CDC, people working with asbestos or asbestos-contaminated products need a respirator that can filter at least 99.97% of particles that are 0.3 micrometers large.  One cannot achieve such a level of filtration with a regular dust mask, a bandana, or a neck gaiter.

A half-face or full-face respirator equipped with HEPA-filtered cartridges or an N-100, R-100, or P-100 NIOSH rating can help achieve this level of filtration. P-100 is a high-efficiency rating and is considered the best solution for protection against asbestos.

It is crucial to note that while respirators offer more protection from asbestos than dust masks, they are not 100% effective. It is crucial to understand how effective every option is so that a person can determine which one they need. To decide which respirator to use for protection against asbestos, a person must first understand the permissible exposure level (PEL) for asbestos and what levels of asbestos are present in their workplace. OSHA has a PEL of 0.1 fiber per cubic centimeter.  To determine the level of asbestos hazard present in one’s workplace, one needs to hire a surveyor to conduct an asbestos risk assessment.

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If you or a loved one were diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact our office to speak to one of our experienced nationwide mesothelioma attorneys about your situation. Our office can help investigate your case and determine if compensation can be sought from negligent parties to help you and your family live a more comfortable life.



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