I hate being the guy to talk about asbestos in Soviet and Warsaw Pact filters, as very many people ask about this, and I believe the asbestos danger is somewhat of a scare tactic. Like many others, I have worn the GP-5 kit, and upon discovering it contained asbestos, I started to wonder just how toxic asbestos really is, and what other filters were dangerous. I have decided to share what little I have uncovered and my own conclusion. I hope it is helpful.
What is asbestos?
How does asbestos affect the body?
The effect of fiber size on toxicity
Chrysotile asbestos toxicity
The action of particulate filters in trapping contaminants
Diagram and description of 'coffee can' gas mask filter stages -Russian language
Post 1969 coffee can style filters using fiberglass instead of asbestos -German language
I have come to the personal conclusion that the filters pose a low risk of asbestos related diseases (if undamaged and used properly) compared to other asbestos containing materials.
This conclusion is based upon:
-The lower toxicity of chrysotile asbestos when compared to amphibole types
-Percentage amount and type of asbestos (chrysotile) present within the filters
-Action of the particulate system in trapping particles of various sizes
-The toxicity of asbestos fibers related to fiber size
-Exposure required to develop an asbestos related disease
-Placement and design of the asbestos containing stage within the filter
Disclaimer: I’m not saying they are safe, as they do indeed contain asbestos and possibly heavy metals such as chromium and lead. I simply have gathered information regarding this matter and have presented some of it here along with the conclusion I have come to as an individual.
For the record, I don’t use any of the filters in question myself, despite my thoughts on it. It is always better to be safe and not risk it, however small the chance of danger may be. Also I'm probably the only one here who collects filters, and not gas masks.