Today’s article was sent to us by Guest Author, Rachel Jones of  She had expressed an interest in sharing ways of protection for contractors who work around asbestos . 

On September 26, the eighth annual Mesothelioma Awareness Day will take place in the United States. Congress has set aside this time to help raise both awareness and funding related to this deadly cancer that still affects up to 3,000 new patients a year. With direct linking to asbestos exposure, the tie between this cancer and safety gear is crucial, especially with those involved in the asbestos abatement process.

There is an extensive amount of protective gear that is required to keep workers and abatement professionals safe from the dangers of asbestos exposure. Some of the common examples of protective gear aren’t nearly as capable of preventing these dangerous levels of exposure from occurring. For example, a common safety mask made out of paper is unable to protect from the inhalation of these fibers.

Mesothelioma is a cancer in which the lining (mesothelium) of the lungs, abdomen and heart can become compromised by asbestos. Because the lungs are highly susceptible to being affected by asbestos fibers, a respirator is probably the single most important type of protective gear to abatement contractors.  Dual cartridge respirators which serve to cover half of the face are the most common type used. It’s also greatly imperative that they include HEPA filters with a NIOSH rating of N100, P100, or R100. This means that the filters are small enough to prevent asbestos fibers from being inhaled. Just as is the case with any necessary respirator use, the fit of the gear is crucial, as an ill-fitting mask would be unable to prevent from all leaks.

Along with the importance of respirators, there is a great need to protect both the skin and eyes when contact with asbestos is taking place. Just as is the case with most construction projects, safety goggles or other protective eyewear is highly recommended. Protecting the skin is a much more complicated process, however.

Some states vary on the advised protective and safety gear from a clothing standpoint, while most recommend that disposable coveralls and gloves are the best option. A few states even suggest wearing multiple sets of coveralls. In any case, the protective clothing worn during the process of asbestos abatement must always be disposed in a sealed asbestos waste bag.

This great amount of safety and protection is a major necessity. While many remain uninformed and unaware of the dangers of this cancer, it has posed a threat to industrial workers and others for decades. Even though the use of asbestos as a common material has largely decreased in the last few decades, the long latency period of mesothelioma will ensure its affect on people for years to come.

This latency period involves a large gap (often decades long) between an original exposure to asbestos and the onset of symptoms. With extremely long gaps between exposure and the arrival of symptoms, mesothelioma life expectancy is on average, very low (between four and 18 months after a diagnosis).

With the dangers of asbestos exposure and mesothelioma set to have a major affect into the future, the importance of proper safety gear and awareness of this disease go hand in hand. Just as staying informed on the dangers of asbestos exposure can help future patients, proper safety gear will allow contractors to keep safe in the process of having asbestos removed.

Thank you, Rachel, for this very informative article.  Hopefully, those who are working around buildings containing asbestos will take all the necessary precautions to stay protected and healthy.  You can find more interesting articles about mesothelioma at the website:


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