When asbestos-containing materials are damaged or disturbed, the fibers can break off and become airborne, making the very air you breathe become toxic. Removing the threat of asbestos fibers from the air is an important task, which is why many people resort to using high-efficiency particulate arrestor – or HEPA – air filters in their respirators and air-purifying equipment. In this article, we describe how effectively HEPA air filters remove asbestos from the air.
Are HEPA Air Filters Effective Against Asbestos?
Yes, HEPA filters are capable of removing asbestos from the air. This is how asbestos abatement companies remove asbestos that has become airborne and prevents it from spreading. For optimal results, air purifiers with HEPA filters are used multiple times throughout a building to ensure complete removal of the airborne asbestos. It’s recommended you hire an asbestos abatement company, as they have the certification required to contain and safely remove asbestos, and their air circulation machines are bigger and capable of purifying larger quantities of air.
How Do HEPA Air Filters Remove Asbestos from the Air?
The screen-like structure of HEPA filters absorbs and traps asbestos particles while allowing clean air to pass through, improving the quality of your air. There are a couple of things that influence the capture of these particles.
The Size of Asbestos Fibers
The minimum requirements for HEPA air filters are an efficiency rating of 99.97% with an aerosol diameter of 0.3 microns (a.k.a. micrometers), according to the U.S. Department of Energy. As stated in our blog, How Does Asbestos Get Into Your Lungs?, asbestos fibers average 3 microns in diameter, which is too big to bypass HEPA filtration standards. Nevertheless, some fibers can be as small as 0.1 microns, necessitating repeated air filtration to ensure maximum asbestos removal.
HEPA Filtration Process
HEPA filters are comprised of a mat of very dense glass fibers. These fibers, unlike a strainer, use a combination of three mechanisms to capture microscopic asbestos and even lead paint particles as they pass through the filter:
- Diffusion: Asbestos particles collide with other particles in the air, impeding progression and extending exposure to the filtration process.
- Interception: The asbestos particles follow a line of flow in the air stream and connect and adhere to glass fibers in the filter.
- Impaction: Larger asbestos particles are unable to avoid the glass fibers due to the curving air stream and become embedded in one of the fibers directly.
Although HEPA air filters remove asbestos from the air effectively, you are always encouraged to contact a certified asbestos abatement company if you discover asbestos in your home. At Fiber Control, Inc., we have the knowledge and experience required to handle all types of asbestos and harmful substances, so be sure to contact us today to protect yourself from dangerous exposure.