However, the company also sold a defective disposable respirator (Model 8710) that was found not to perform as advertised and contributed to asbestos-related disease. Likewise, the Model 8500 dust mask caused some serious health problems before the company adjusted its packaging to include a warning.
Harmful Products and Health Consequences
The 8710 masks were marketed to prevent inhalation of harmful dust and fibers that contribute to mesothelioma, cancer, and asbestosis. Ultimately, it was discovered that these masks did not do their job, and 3M faced hundreds of thousands of lawsuits, all due to the defective respirator masks.
The faulty masks were used by workers who were forced to be around asbestosis-inducing materials in industrial jobs such as factory work and engineering.
Legal documents show that the 8710 mask was introduced in 1972 and approved by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration “for use in environments where exposures to certain substances, including asbestos, did not exceed ten times the permissible exposure limit.” Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company recalled the mask from the market in 1986 when OSHA “reduced the PEL for asbestos from 2 fibers/cc of air to .2 fibers/cc.”1
Asbestos-related Disease and Lawsuits Against 3M
Railroad workers, welders, and drywall repair workers have been among the plaintiffs shown to have relied on the masks and respirators before the recall. Many of them became ill with mesothelioma and other lung problems and filed lawsuits as a result. Other litigation stemmed from relatives of those who had already passed away due to cancer because of the defective respirators.
Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company has settled many of the suits out of court but has been ordered to pay millions by courts across the U.S. Mesothelioma takes an average of 20 to 40 years to develop and be diagnosed. People who relied on these masks for the years they were on the market might not even be aware that the masks did not protect them from the carcinogens that can cause mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. Anyone who used these masks in their work is encouraged to seek advice from a physician, especially if the person has not had a recent chest x-ray.