Improving Indoor Air Quality, a Way of Preventing Asbestos Exposure

Improving Indoor Air Quality, a Way of Preventing Asbestos Exposure

In the last 10-20 years, indoor air pollutants, including asbestos fibers, have been increasingly blamed for causing severe health effects. It's an essential part of the concerns of building owners and renters and involves the building's HVAC system or other air filtering or conditioning systems.

In severe cases, due to abnormally high levels of indoor air pollutants, entire areas of buildings or the entire building may need to be closed, hindering everyday life flow. Nowadays, it's a known fact that employee or family health may be considerably affected by indoor air pollutants such as:

  • tobacco smoke
  • volatile organic compounds
  • microbiological contamination
  • asbestos particles from building materials
  • toxins from cleaning materials

Due to spending a lot of time in buildings with mechanical ventilation, heating, and cooling systems, there is always the chance of poor air quality and continued exposure to indoor air pollutants at hazardous levels to be the cause of grave health injuries. Given that contaminants like asbestos are carcinogenic, the circulation of particles in the indoor air and their inhalation over an extended period may result in tumors and cancers many years later.

Portable Air Cleaners and Filtration

Using portable air cleaners in the workplace or at home can help improve indoor air quality, so these devices have become a popular appliance in homes and the workplace in the last 20 years. Although many air cleaners are marketed as the sole solution to various indoor air quality issues, portable air cleaners are no substitute for source control and efficient ventilation. They may be helpful when used in conjunction with these practices.

A way to improve indoor air quality is source control: reducing or removing the sources of indoor pollutants through routine and seasonal cleanings. The following effective means is thoroughly ventilating the space with clean outdoor air. Additionally, portable air cleaners or air purifiers can supplement the previous two practices, especially when additional ventilation with outdoor air is not possible.

To achieve effectiveness and good indoor air quality, opt for devices capable of monitoring standard indoor air quality parameters (particle counts, VOC levels), and select a portable air cleaner model with the following characteristics:

  • moves enough air for the intended space
  • square foot rating
  • appropriate filtration
  • includes HEPA filter
  • has MERV 16 rating
  • consumables are supported and readily available
  • well known manufacturer
  • the product has a favorable market history

Improper use of portable air filters can worsen indoor air quality, as the existing particulates in a space can become airborne if an air filter is introduced without first cleaning the area.

The Importance of Contamination Source Removal

In buildings built before the 1980s, it is very likely for asbestos to be one of the sources polluting your indoor air. If you are experiencing issues with asbestos contamination, it is expected from an open source - deteriorating wall or piping insulation, drywall joint compound, or some other source. Because HEPA air filters can be genuinely effective only without any open sources of particle generation, it is impossible to achieve clean indoor air before the contaminated area has been investigated and handled correctly, preferably by a licensed asbestos professional. Consulting a DIY asbestos removal method is advisable if you decide to act independently.

Why Should I Test Products in My Home for Asbestos?

It is often impossible to tell whether asbestos is embedded in a material, as the fibers are too small to be observed with the naked eye. Exposure to asbestos is responsible for serious respiratory conditions, so thorough testing is required to ensure your home is asbestos-free.