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Asbestosis. Lung cancer. Mesothelioma. Learn how to protect yourself from the dangers of asbestos.

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A microscopic image of asbestos.


Some forms of carcinogens may surprise you.

Used for insulation and fire protection up until the 1970's, the natural fiber of asbestos is now known to lead to respiratory illnesses. The material can still be found in cement, wallboard, pipes, textured paints, and air ducts leaving workers susceptible to exposure.

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Dangers of asbestos

When materials which contain asbestos are disturbed fibers can become airborne leading to the potential risk of exposure.

  • Asbestosis

    Fibrosis of the lungs can be caused by asbestos exposure. Symptoms may include shortness of breath and cough. The disease is often difficult to diagnose as symptoms develop slowly over time. 

  • Lung cancer

    Individuals who smoke and are exposed to asbestos have a greater risk of developing lung cancer than non-smokers who are exposed to asbestos. The combination of exposures may create multiplicative effects.

  • Mesothelioma

    A cancer of the lining of the lung mostly caused by asbestos exposure. It seldom occurs within 15 years of exposure and most often after more than 30 years of exposure. Mesothelioma appears to be strongly dependent on the type of asbestos exposure.

  • A person in coveralls, a hard hat, safety glasses, and a respirator working in a building with asbestos. He is taping plastic sheeting.

    Protection against asbestos

    All respirator suggestions contained herein are based on data we believe to be reliable, but the accuracy or completeness thereof is not guaranteed. There is no representation, warranty, guarantee or other obligation of 3M or its employees arising out of these suggestions. 3M shall not be liable for any loss and/or damage, whether direct, indirect, incidental, special or consequential arising out the sale, use or misuse of 3M Personal Safety products or the user's inability to use such product. No respirator is capable of preventing all airborne contaminants from entering the breathing zone of the wearer. Respirators can help reduce certain airborne contaminant concentrations in the breathing zone to below the applicable Occupational Exposure Limit (OEL)* for your jurisdiction. Misuse of respirators may result in overexposure to the contaminant and cause sickness or death. Proper respirator selection, training and use are mandatory in order for the wearer to be properly protected. Use and Selection of respirators must be in accordance with the authority having jurisdiction in your country or province. Use of the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) standard Z94.4 may be used for further guidance in the selection of appropriate respirators or call 3M Technical Service at 1-800-267-4414.

*Occupational Exposure Limit (OEL)

An occupational exposure limit (OEL) is the generic term for a concentration to a chemical, physical or biological substance to which it is believed a worker can be exposed day after day for a working lifetime without adverse health effects.

Technical Assistance: 1-800-267-4414 Technical Assistance: 1-800-267-4414 Customer Service: 1-800-3M-HELPS (364-3577) Customer Service: 1-800-3M-HELPS (364-3577)
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