Can Air Purifiers Remove Asbestos From Air?

We all know asbestos used to be the biggest indoor pollution threat in a home and still is to a certain extent. So can air purifiers remove asbestos from the air safely and effectively? To answer this age-old question, let us deep dive into what asbestos is, the substance (solid or gas), and test how an air cleaner works to prevent you from inhaling it. Let's begin.


What Is Asbestos

Asbestos is a natural magnesium silicate mineral fiber regularly used as a building material until the 1970s. It is known for its durability, fire retardant, and heat-resistance elements. As such, asbestos is found in the insulation board, ceilings, tiles, roofs, pipes, and walls.

In 1973, EPA implemented the Clean Air Act that banned most asbestos spray products due to health hazards. In 1989, the EPA extended the Phase Out Rule act ban. With the new set of rules, EPA will gradually impose a total ban on the manufacturing, processing, and sale of asbestos products. As a result, asbestos is rarely seen in residential homes these days, other than commercial cement boards.

Do Air Purifiers Get Rid of Asbestos?

An air purifier with a HEPA filter will remove 99.9% of asbestos particles from the air. It is by far, the safest and most effective air purifier type to create a safe home for you and your family. On average, asbestos fibers range from 0.7 to 90 microns. Well within a true HEPA filter scope of capturing 99.97% microscopic particles as small as 0.3 microns.

The larger the particles, the easier the air cleaner would be able to trap them on the filter. Note that the air purifier must have a sufficient airflow delivery rate to cover an entire room. Otherwise, there would not be enough airflow force to pull down the lightweight fibers.

How Long Does Asbestos Stay In The Air

While asbestos is not easily detachable, it will become friable and break down into thin, lightweight air fibers when disturbed (hacking, sanding, drilling, cutting). Airborned asbestos will linger in the air between 48-72 hours, even when there is no air movement. If there is a continuous airflow channel like a fan or air conditioner, the fibers may stay afloat indefinitely unless an air cleaner pulls them down.

The Danger Of Asbestos

Asbestos is hazardous and will cause cancer. There are still an estimated 3500 different types of products containing asbestos. Most of these items are either obsolete or limited to commercial use. But what happens when one breathes into asbestos once or twice? Probably nothing if the concentration level of asbestos is low. Most asbestos exposure would take 10-20 years to develop Asbestosis without any symptoms. Asbestosis is a chronic lung disease caused by inhaling asbestos fibers. If the condition remains unchanged, you will be at risk of Mesotheliomas; a type of cancer that develops from the thin tissue layer of internal organs, e.g. the lungs, and chest.

Keep an eye out for the first sign of asbestos poisoning. You might experience:

  • Tightness in chest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dry cough
  • Loss of appetite
  • Chest pain
  • Pleural thicken
  • Finger clubbing (enlarged fingertips)
  • Nail deformities

How to Prevent Asbestos Exposure In The Home

We all know HEPA air purifiers work, but there are other equally effective ways of protecting yourself from asbestos. First and foremost, if you are staying in an old home dated before the 1970s, get it checked for asbestos contamination. If there is no leakage issue, you are left with 2 options:

  • Do not disturb the asbestos materials by sealing them tight and avoiding DIY renovation.
  • Get it sorted for good by hiring a certified asbestos remover and contractor to remodel the entire house. It is lengthy, costly, and painful, but it will give you peace of mind knowing your home is safe and toxin-free.

Other no-brainer actions include tossing away old items sprayed with asbestos paint, no smoking indoors, as the chemical fumes do not mix well with asbestos fiber, and keeping your home well-ventilated.

How To Test For Asbestos In The Air

You could hire a professional to inspect through the OSHA Inspection Method. It is easy and accurate but will cost you between $200-500. Alternatively, you can diy by purchasing an asbestos home test kit. First, pick the spot you want to do the testing. Then draw an air sample amount as instructed in the manual into the canister tube from the test kit. Finally, mail back the samples in the original box. We recommend Nirtue Labs home test kit as it is accurate and will only cost you around $25, including lab tests. You should receive the result after 5 working days with instructions on what to do next.

Max Fernandez

A loving father and a dedicated reviewer for airfuji.com with more than 1000 air purifiers under his belt. Max Fernandez is also one of the million patients currently suffering from asthma. Feel free to nudge him if you have any questions.
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