Do HEPA Air Filters Remove Asbestos from the Air?

Because asbestos has useful heat-resistant qualities, it has been used for many decades in wide-ranging industries and products. As most people now know, a wave of litigation exposed the harmful effects of asbestos. Litigation also confirmed something that had long been feared: that many employers and industries continued to expose people to the dangers of asbestos, even after learning about its dangers. Fortunately, society and the law have responded to hold wrongdoers accountable and to protect our citizens.

However, some people are surprised to learn that asbestos has not been completely banned. While its uses have been limited, asbestos still exists in many buildings and products. Therefore, if you have exposure to asbestos, it’s crucial that you protect yourself. One way to do so is to use an asbestos air filter.

Dangers of Asbestos

In its natural state, asbestos is simply a mineral, and not generally dangerous. However, when asbestos is “disturbed,” tiny fibers can become airborne and inhaled. Sufficient exposure can result in mesothelioma and asbestosis.

Obvious examples of disturbance include drilling, sawing, and sanding. However, even when there are not such obvious disturbance activities, asbestos can become “friable.” This means the material can be easily broken or crumbled when touched, which allows the asbestos fibers to become airborne.

Can air purifiers remove asbestos?

You can’t use just any air purifier to get rid of asbestos in the air. However, there are special asbestos air filters that can be effective, often under the supervision of a trained professional. One example is a HEPA air filter.

Keep reading to learn more about HEPA air purifiers for asbestos.

What are “HEPA” air filters?

“HEPA” refers to High Efficiency Particulate Air filters. These are mechanical filters constructed with a mat, or sheet, of fibers, often made of fiberglass. When air flows across the mat, the fibers trap particles in the air. Most HEPA air filters are rated at approximately 99.97 percent efficient, and can be effective in removing asbestos particles from the air.

A variety of products containing HEPA filters can be purchased from numerous sellers. Like all products, these air filters vary in quality and effectiveness, depending both on the quality of the product and the degree to which it is used properly.

Where are some HEPA applications?

Examples of asbestos-related uses include vacuum cleaners, respirators, and air filters. They may be used in homes, commercial buildings, or in industrial locations where there is a known presence of asbestos.

HEPA air purifiers are some of the most common asbestos air filters, but HEPA filters have many non-asbestos related applications as well. For example, HEPA filters can be used in medical settings to help prevent the airborne spread of bacterial and viral organisms.

HEPA Filters – Part of a Safety Strategy

If you think you might have issues with asbestos in your home, you’re probably wondering how to get rid of asbestos in the air. Remember, your safety is of the utmost importance. We recommend that you first hire a professional to test your home and make recommendations.

Sometimes, asbestos is present, but not friable, and not harmful. In some cases, asbestos can be encapsulated to protect the homeowner. In other instances, the only safe resolution is to remove the asbestos.

Regardless of the final result, the safest approach is to leave the testing and any required work to a licensed asbestos abatement contractor. Such a contractor will have the appropriate HEPA vacuums and other equipment, along with the training to use them correctly.

If you work in an industry in which you are exposed to asbestos, make sure your employer follows OSHA requirements, Oregon law, and other best practices, such as those recommended by the EPA. Always use safety clothing and gear as recommended by your employer.

Call Us with Your Questions

If you work with or around asbestos, always take every precaution to protect your health. If you have an employer who puts your health first, you’re a step ahead of the game.

Unfortunately, all too often we hear from workers whose employers failed to follow the precautions required by law, or waited too late to do so, resulting in unnecessary harm to employees. The only way to keep society safe for everyone is to hold these people accountable for their actions. If you have questions, or would like a free consultation, please call the experienced asbestos and mesothelioma attorneys at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield.

Helpful Links:

Oregon State University: “When Is Asbestos Dangerous?” - http://oregonstate.edu/ehs/asb-when

EPA Asbestos Training: https://www.epa.gov/asbestos/asbestos-training

EPA Guide To Air Cleaners In The Home: https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/guide-air-cleaners-home

EPA: Asbestos In The Home: A Homeowner’s Guide: https://yosemite.epa.gov/r5/r5ard.nsf/2f86cbca09880b61862565fe00588192/e7b966d2cd03cc3c86256fc7006c5469!OpenDocument

Oregon Asbestos Information: http://www.oregon.gov/deq/Hazards-and-Cleanup/Pages/Asbestos-Information.aspx

Explain That Stuff Article: HEPA Filters: http://www.explainthatstuff.com/hepafilters.html


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