Buying an air purifier for asbestos

Asbestos has become synonymous with the danger it causes to human health. It is the largest cause of work-related deaths on the European continent, responsible for around 78% of occupational cancers. Despite the fact that its use in all forms was banned in the UK in 19991 and in the EU in 20052, it is still present in buildings that were constructed before these years. What, exactly, is asbestos? How can we ensure our safety if it is present? Can an air purifier for asbestos help? Read on to learn more.

An older man coughing in a bed

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is not just one substance but a family of substances. It consists of naturally-occurring minerals that separate easily into thin fibres. It is known for its heat, electricity, and corrosion resistance. Asbestos was commonly used from the 1950s to the 1980s in many products and industries including insulation, construction (cement, plaster, sprayed and textured coatings), fireproofing and furnaces, and manufacturing of brakes, to name a few. Mineral asbestos does not have an odour.

Common uses of asbestos: auto parts, building materials, cement, electrical parts, insulation

Source 3

Asbestos types

There are two main groups of asbestos fibres:

  1. Serpentine asbestos
    • Includes chrysotile or ‘white asbestos’
    • Accounts for 90 to 95% of all asbestos used worldwide 
  2. Amphibole asbestos
    • Includes a vast variety of types of asbestos including crocidolite or ‘blue asbestos’, amosite or ‘brown asbestos’, anthophyllite, and actinolite asbestos
    • Was used in many types of industries due to its varied chemical and technological properties4

Is asbestos dangerous?

Asbestos fibres are microscopic, invisible to the naked eye, with particle size ranging from 0.7 to 90 microns with an undetectable odour. Since these particles of this micron size are so small, they are easily inhaled or ingested, making them harmful for human health and a serious safety risk. The fibres accumulate in the lungs’ alveoli, causing irritation and scar tissue in the lungs. As the scar tissue builds in the lungs, the lungs become stiff. This makes it impossible for them to contract and expand7. On average, it takes up to 30 years after exposure for signs of disease to show2. Exposure to a single asbestos fibre could cause mesothelioma.

Harmful exposure typically occurs during demolition and renovation activities. The fibres become airborne once disturbed, making it easy for them to be inhaled. Certain lines of work are more at risk of asbestos exposure than others. The occupations with the highest safety risk include:

  • Asbestos miners
  • Construction workers
  • Firefighters
  • Electricians
  • Railroad workers
  • Industrial workers (aircraft and auto mechanics, foremen, machinery operators)
  • Power plant workers (33% of whom, according to a 2002 study, had asbestos bodies present in mucus samples)5
  • Shipyard workers6

A firefighter covered in dust

Symptoms

As previously mentioned, most symptoms of asbestos-related diseases take anywhere from 15 to 60 years to appear with 30 years being the average. Often times, once the symptoms have developed, it is too late for treatment to be effective.

The most common symptoms of asbestos exposure are:

  • Clubbing of fingers – fingertips spread out and become rounder
  • Shortness of breath and/or difficulty breathing
  • A dry cough
  • Tightness or pain in the chest
  • Crackling in the lungs upon inhalation7

The main diseases caused by asbestos exposure include mesothelioma (a fatal cancer of the lining of the lungs that is almost exclusively caused by asbestos exposure), lung cancer, and asbestosis (lung scarring). Those with asbestosis are at increased risk of developing asbestos-related lung cancer. The World Health Organization estimates that 107,000 people die annually from asbestos-related diseases8.

How to make a home or professional space safe from asbestos

If you expect that your home or professional space contains asbestos, the number one recommendation is to leave it undisturbed. Asbestos is only harmful when fibres are released into the air which occurs during demolition or renovation activities including sanding, cutting, and drilling. If you expect asbestos contamination in your home or professional space, it is likely due to the degradation of an asbestos open source inside your space’s insulation, drywall, or elsewhere.

Hire professionals to remove asbestos

If you must remove asbestos from your home or professional space, it is always implored to hire a professional. Companies that are certified to work with asbestos are trained to do so and will remove it as safely as possible. Once professionals have intervened to remove asbestos, it is highly recommended to use a HEPA-certified air purifier for any asbestos fibres that are airborne (asbestos particles can remain airborne for up to 40 hours!).

Buying an air purifier for asbestos

Due to their small particle sizes, only an air purifier equipped with a HEPA-certified filter is capable of removing asbestos fibres from your indoor air. However, do keep in mind that it is always recommended to treat asbestos at its source and that if an open source of asbestos remains in your indoor space, your health will remain at risk. A HEPA-certified air purifier for asbestos will indeed help with any asbestos found in your breathing air.

Eoleaf's AEROPRO 100 air purifier

How to choose the best air purifier for asbestos filtration

Choose a HEPA-certified air purifier

A HEPA air filter for asbestos is an excellent way to combat any airborne asbestos fibres. As mentioned above, asbestos particles range from 0.7 to 90 microns. Medical-grade HEPA air filters (those that are HEPA H13 or H14) are designed to filter 99.97% of all airborne particles down to a size of 0.01 microns in a single pass.

Do note that air purifiers claiming to contain ‘HEPA-type’ filters are not guaranteed to have the same airflow capacity nor perform the same quality or level of filtration. They do not undergo the same rigorous third-party testing that HEPA-certified filters do and, although they are cheaper, they cannot guarantee your protection against airborne asbestos fibres or other fine particles.

Eoleaf air purifiers are all equipped with medical-grade HEPA-certified H13 filters. Our devices are extremely thorough in terms of air filtration and odour removal, offering 8 different filtration technologies in one device. Eoleaf air purifiers combat all the main types of air pollution including:

You will find the following complementary technologies in our devices:

Consider the size of the room you wish to treat

Keep in mind that air purifiers are designed to filter the air of a maximum size. This means that upon making your purchase, you must ensure that the air cleaner model is properly sized. An air purifier’s air processing rate, referred to as its ‘clean air delivery rate’ or CADR, is an extremely important metric to consider when choosing the right model for combatting asbestos or any other indoor air pollutant. The higher the CADR, the faster the device will replace polluted air in the room with clean air.

Eoleaf devices are sized as follows:

  • AEROPRO 150: rooms with a surface area from 0 to 120 m2 (1300 square feet)
    • CADR: 670 m3/hr
  • AEROPRO 100: rooms with a surface area from 0 80 m2 (850 square feet)
    • CADR: 570 m3/hr
  • AEROPRO 40: rooms with a surface area from 0 to 40 m2 (450 square feet)
    • CADR: 420 m3/hr

Always choose quality

A high-quality air purifier will require less filter changes than a low-quality air purifier. Eoleaf’s devices only require filter changes once every year. Also choose a device with a long warranty. Companies that offer long warranties are confident in the longevity of their products, offering air purifiers that are built to last. Eoleaf devices are covered under warranty for 3 years!

Let Eoleaf protect you from airborne asbestos

Eoleaf offers the most advanced air filtration technologies on the market. Let us help you breathe purified air that is clean of all air pollutant types, especially if you expect an asbestos contamination in your space. Contact our team of air purification experts anytime for any questions regarding your needs. Also refer to our in-depth Buying Guide to learn more about all the factors to consider before purchasing an air purifier.

Eoleaf's AEROPRO 40 air purifier

Resources

1 HSE. (2024). Introduction to asbestos safety. Health and Safety Executive. https://www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/introduction/index.htm

2 Press corner. European Commission. (2022, September 28). https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_22_5679

3 Whitmer, M. (2024, January 9). What is asbestos? how does it cause cancer?. Mesothelioma Center. https://www.asbestos.com/asbestos/

4 Visonà SD, Villani S, Manzoni F, Chen Y, Ardissino G, Russo F, Moretti M, Javan GT, Osculati A. Impact of asbestos on public health: a retrospective study on a series of subjects with occupational and non-occupational exposure to asbestos during the activity of Fibronit plant (Broni, Italy). J Public Health Res. 2018 Dec 20;7(3):1519. doi: 10.4081/jphr.2018.1519. PMID: 30687679; PMCID: PMC6321947.

5 Paris C, Galateau-Salle F, Creveuil C, Morello R, Raffaelli C, Gillon JC, Billon-Galland MA, Pairon JC, Chevreau L, Letourneux M. Asbestos bodies in the sputum of asbestos workers: correlation with occupational exposure. Eur Respir J. 2002 Nov;20(5):1167-73. doi: 10.1183/09031936.02.00262102. PMID: 12449170.

6 Whitmer, M. (2023, December 6). Occupational Asbestos Exposure - jobs exposed to asbestos. Mesothelioma Center. https://www.asbestos.com/occupations/

7 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2022, February 11). Asbestosis. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/asbestosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20354637

8 Stayner, L., Welch, L. S., & Lemen, R. (2013). The worldwide pandemic of asbestos-related diseases. Annual Review of Public Health, 34(1), 205–216. doi:10.1146/annurev-publhealth-031811-124704

Eoleaf's range of air purifiers

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