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Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Safe Asbestos Removal

When working with or removing asbestos, it can often release dangerous fine particles of dust containing asbestos fibres. If these fibres are inhaled in can lead to serious diseases including asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.

There is no 'safe level' of exposure to asbestos and choosing the right personal protective equipment will minimise the chances of inhaling asbestos fibres.

Overalls

Overalls conforming to BS EN ISO 13982-1 (Protective clothing for use against solid particulates) Type 5 are suitable. Wearing a size larger than you usually wear will help prevent the seams ripping. If the cuffs are loose then these should be taped. Used overalls must be treated as asbestos waste.

Gloves

Suitable gloves should be worn when handling asbestos to reduce the risk of developing 'asbestos warts'. It is advised that 'single use' disposable gloves are used and after use, these must be treated as asbestos waste.

Footwear

Footwear with laces can make decontamination a difficult, and often an impossible, process. Suitable wellington boots should be worn.

Respirators

Without a doubt, the more important piece of personal protective equipment worn when handling asbestos is the respirator or dust mask. As the respirator is the barrier between dangerous asbestos fibres and the lungs thought should be given to selecting the correct piece of equipment.

Respirators must:-

Respirators suitable for handling asbestos

Respirators must have an Assigned Protection Factor of 20 or more.

Disposable FFP3 respirators (dust masks) conforming to standard EN149.

Semi-disposable respirators (half face mask) conforming to standard EN405 fitted with P3 filters.

Half face masks conforming to EN140 fitted with P3 filters.

Respirator Comparisons – Pros and Cons

Respirator Type

Pros

Cons

Disposable Dust Masks (EN149)

  • Can be cheaper to purchase
  • Lighter
  • Can more difficult to achieve a good fit
  • Can work out more expensive for long projects
  • Must be disposable of as asbestos waste.

Semi-disposable half masks (EN405)

  • Easier to achieve a good fit
  • Less inward leakage than a disposable dust mask
  • Filters are generally bonded to the mask and cannot be replaced
  • If filters are bonded the whole mask must be disposed of as asbestos waste

Half face masks (EN140)

  • Easier to achieve a good fit
  • Less inward leakage than a disposable dust mask
  • Only the filters are classed as asbestos waste
  • Mask body must be decontaminated before reuse.

Face Fit Testing

A respirator must fit the wearer correctly to ensure adequate protection from asbestos fibres. Most manufacturers supply fit testing kits including Moldex and 3M. Wearers of dust masks and respirators must be clean shaven, if this is not possible then alternatives such as powered or supplied air respirators should be used.

Please click or a full range of Asbestos Removal Safety Wear or you can view full asbestos safety kits as a whole pack.