Dust Masks

Dust Masks and Asbestos Exposure

Simple dust masks do not provide sufficient protection against asbestos fibers/dust. This is one reason that homeowners should not undertake asbestos removal on their own; in order to be fully protected from asbestos dust, a special respirator equipped with an appropriate HEPA filter is generally required.

There are some dust masks that provide limited protection from asbestos. Single-use, paper dust masks that are labeled "N95" can help to filter out asbestos fibers to a certain degree, but a thorough review of manufacturer fact sheets should always precede use. 3M also offers a disposable mask, which is marketed as the Disposable 3M 8511 Dust Mask. These masks may be sufficient when making a brief inspection, but they are insufficient for major removal and abatement.

The most common type of asbestos likely to be found in older homes and buildings is chrysotile. This is white in color and is often found around steam and water pipes as well as HVAC systems and heating ducts. This type of asbestos has links to mesothelioma cancer as well as other asbestos diseases such as asbestosis.

Dust Mask Product Listing

A partial list of dust mask products that failed to provide adequate protection from airborne asbestos is noted below for your convenience.

Product Name Start Year End Year
3M 8500 Dust mask
3M 8710 Dust mask
3M Dust Masks

Hazards Associated with Dust Mask Products

Dust masks do not in and of themselves present a hazard. However, they are often worn in hazardous conditions and it is vitally important not to overestimate the protection afforded by a dust mask. Most dust masks will not stop asbestos fibers in any significant quantity; when in the vicinity of asbestos, use only masks that are designed for use around asbestos and minimize exposure as much as possible.

There are currently many lawsuits being brought against 3M regarding their 8500 dust mask and 8710 disposable respirator products. The primary claim is that the devices did not provide adequate protection against workplace dust and asbestos particles. Both devices have been removed from the market by 3M.


View Sources

Sources

Cummings, Tuckar. "Safety Masks For Asbestos & Mold."
(http://www.ehow.com/facts_6146779_safety-masks-asbestos-mold.html) Updated 10 April 2010. Retrieved 9 January 2011.

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