Exposure to mold and asbestos can wreak havoc on your health. Encountering these substances can lead to a range of health concerns. Breathing in asbestos can lead to asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma, while exposure to mold can lead to throat irritation, nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, coughing and other respiratory issues, and skin irritation.
As an employer or someone at risk of encountering these substances, it’s important to protect yourself on the job. If you are working in an environment with mold or high levels of asbestos, you’ll need to wear a respirator mask. It’s best to cover the entire face when working in hazardous environments, so these substances don’t get into your eyes, mouth or nose. Learn about the different kinds of respirators for mold and asbestos, so you and your team can get to work with more peace of mind.
Knowing Your Risks
Considering how dangerous exposure to asbestos and mold can be to your health, OSHA has outlined strict guidelines for those working in these areas. As an employer, you need to actively monitor and assess your workplace to see if either mold or asbestos is present.
Mold is typically caused by moisture. If water or moisture are present in the air, mold can grow on practically any surface indoors, including wood, plaster, fabric, carpet, and drywall. It may be caused by materials that didn’t have a chance to dry properly.
Asbestos can be found in a range of household and industrial products, including cement sheeting, drains and pipes, roofing materials, as well as brakes, clutches and gaskets. While many of today’s products are now asbestos-free, older products may still contain asbestos. There tends to be trace amounts of asbestos in the air in many homes and buildings across America, and exposure to asbestos can affect your health if it’s above the Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL).
Currently, the PEL for asbestos is 0.1 fiber per cubic centimeter of air as an eight-hour time-weighted average (TWA), with an excursion limit (EL) of 1.0 asbestos fibers per cubic centimeter over 30 minutes. As an employer, you need to ensure that no one is exposed above these limits. Use a gas monitor to assess the safety of your workplace.
The symptoms of asbestos-related illnesses and diseases may not appear until 20 or 30 years down the line. However, exposure to mold can lead to itchy, watery eyes, throat irritation, and coughing in a matter of minutes, especially if you or members of your team have asthma or an existing respiratory condition.
Choosing the Correct Level of Protection
When wearing a respirator, after making sure you have a good mask fit, the key to getting the correct level of protection is choosing the right filter or cartridge for your respirator. The particles/dust from both Lead and Asbestos are effectively filtered out by a 'P100' rated filter. This is the industry term for a HEPA rated filter. Look for that rating on the filter.
With Mold, it may be advisable to have organic vapor protection as well. In the case of actively growing mold, a witches brew of organic compounds are generated. Particularly when disturbing an active Mold site, these compounds can trigger nasty allergic reactions, and even cause long term health issues.
Within the 3M brand of respirators, here are the choices we would recommend; For P100, use the 3M 2091 or 7093 filters. For added organic protection, use either the 3M 2097 pancake filter or 60926 combination cartridge.
Finding the Right Respirator Mask for You and Your Team
If you discover mold spores or asbestos, you’ll need to remove or treat the infected object or area immediately. At PK Safety, we have two kits for removing asbestos and lead. The Lead and Asbestos Removal Kit Pro comes with a 3M 6000 Series Half Mask Respirator, which protects the nose, eyes, and mouth from possible exposure. It conforms to the shape of the wearer’s face, so nothing can slip in between the two.
It also comes with P100 (HEPA) air filters, gloves, goggles, and a disposable coverall with matching boots, while the Lead and Asbestos Removal Kit Pro Deluxe comes with the 3M 7500 Series Half Mask Respirator, which tends to be a little more comfortable than most models on the market today, so you and your team can wear it for longer periods of time.
The 3M 6000 Half Mask Lead Dust Respirator Combination is a great choice for those that may be exposed to lead dust. It’s NIOSH approved and it comes with a pair of 3M 7093 P100 Filters.
If you and your team prefer to use disposable respirator masks instead, we have the Moldex 2730 N100 Lead Abatement Respirator. It comes with five disposable masks, keeping you and your team mobile on the job.
Finding the right mold and asbestos respirator is a must if you and your team may be exposed to these substances. Contact PK Safety today to learn more about finding the proper safety gear