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Is a dust mask enough for asbestos? 

On Behalf of | Feb 10, 2023 | Asbestos Exposure

insulation worker in PPE

If you’re a trade worker, such as a carpenter or a construction worker, you are probably very familiar with wearing a dust mask. Some people do this when they are simply in dusty and dirty enclosed spaces. Others use them when they are actively working on cutting wood so that they are not inhaling the sawdust particles the entire time. These masks are a standard part of PPE in many industries.

However, you’re also aware that you face risks from other types of dust and particles that you could be exposed to on the job. Perhaps the most drastic example is asbestos, which can lead to an aggressive type of cancer known as mesothelioma. If you’re concerned that you may have to work around asbestos particles, should you put a dust mask on first? If your employer just gives you a standard dust mask and tells you that you will be safe enough, is that true?

Check the ratings

As a general rule, a simple dust mask will never be enough. It doesn’t seal tightly to your face and it doesn’t filter out small enough particles. Asbestos particles are microscopic and often invisible. They can get through a mask like that very easily, and you will still inhale them, increasing your odds of developing mesothelioma.

To ensure that you have the right mask, look at the ratings. The three most standard ratings for asbestos are P-100, R-100 and N-100. These masks are often designed with canister systems that screw into the bottom of the mask, so they are much more complex than a paper mask. 

If you were not given the right PPE and you have developed mesothelioma, be sure you know exactly what legal options you have.


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