Can Air Filters Remove Asbestos?
In 2018, the Canadian government issued a ban on the import and export of asbestos and asbestos containing materials (ACMs), as well as the manufacturing of, selling, or trading of products that contain asbestos, with some exceptions including allowing the military and nuclear facilities to still use the material.
Despite this victory, many Canadian homes built prior to 1990 still contain ACMs, so it is understandable that many homeowners are concerned. These are the kinds of questions we hear as asbestos removal Red Deer specialists.
What is Asbestos and Can Air Filters Remove Asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring, fibrous material that can cause cancer and other diseases, and is found in some building insulation, floor and ceiling tiles, as well as furnaces and heating systems. Asbestos cannot harm you unless it is airborne, so an air filter may remove asbestos if the source has already been properly taken care of.
What Types of Air Filters Can Remove Asbestos?
Some of the most common types of air filters are ultraviolet purifiers, activated carbon air purifiers, ionic air purifiers, and HEPA filters. HEPA systems are the only filters known to effectively handle asbestos. HEPA stands for, “High Efficiency Particulate Arresting”, and these types of filters are held to an industry standard to trap 99.97% of all particles 0.3-microns or larger. HEPA filters are able to remove ultra-fine particles like dust, dander, pollen, mold, smoke and asbestos. Asbestos particles can be anywhere between 0.7-90 microns, so the HEPA filter has no problem with them. HEPA filters are so effective that the CDC requires their use in their Guideline for Isolation Precautions for preventing the spread of infectious agents.
Will a HEPA Filter Remove All the Asbestos in My House?
A HEPA filter can remove almost any particle over 0.3-microns in size, but if the source of the contamination is still in the home, there is only so much a filter can do. The best course of action is to hire a professional asbestos worker to safely remove the source, then use a HEPA filter to remove any remaining particles. You should not try to discard asbestos-contaminated material on your own, as any moving or jostling of the particles will release them into the air you are breathing. The Government of Alberta, in accordance with Occupational Health and Safety codes, requires anyone working in an area with asbestos to take a training program before handling materials, so you certainly shouldn’t try to do this on your own.
If you are concerned about asbestos in your home, the best thing to do is to stay away from the area, do not disturb it in any way, and contact a professional asbestos worker to inspect/remove the material. Throughout the process and afterwards, a HEPA air filter will be able to remove any remaining asbestos particles.