The Best Air Purifier for Asbestos Roundup

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Written By Jamila W.

Asbestos exposure is a valid concern for many property owners. Although it has been outlawed in the U.S. for almost four decades, asbestos remains prevalent in buildings of all kinds. This fibrous mineral has worrying health effects, and if inhaled, it can cause devastating lung disease. If you’re concerned about asbestos release during home renovation or when moving into a new home, the best air purifier for dealing with asbestos is the Coway Airmega 400.

A powerful HEPA air purifier that targets asbestos fibers can protect you while you seek advice on its removal, as the hepa filter remove asbestos from the air. In this article, we round up the 5 best air purifiers for asbestos, including everything you need to know about managing asbestos in the home.

What is Asbestos, and Why Should You be Concerned?

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Asbestos is the name of a group of six fibrous silicate minerals which have long been used in a wide range of construction and insulation materials. The minerals are characterized by their long thin fibrous crystals that degrade into microscopic fibers that can become airborne. If inhaled, the airborne particles can settle deep inside the lungs, causing inflammation, fibrosis, and lung cancer. 

How Harmful is Asbestos Exposure?

Asbestos is a major public health hazard because of the harmful effects of asbestos particles on the respiratory system. In addition to being a known carcinogen that causes lung cancer, asbestos is also associated with life-shortening fibrotic lung disease, asbestosis. The health implications of breathing in asbestos particles are so serious that it is banned in over 60 countries.

Symptoms of Asbestosis

One of the serious consequences of exposure to asbestos particles is the condition of asbestosis. This chronic and progressive lung disease causes respiratory problems that dont’t show up until years after the initial asbestos exposure. It is caused by the inflammation and scarring triggered by the presence of asbestos particles embedded in lung tissue. Here are the key symptoms: 

  • Increasing shortness of breath
  • Progressively reduced exercise tolerance
  • Respiratory failure
  • Crackling sound when listening to an affected patient inhales deeply with a stethoscope 
  • Lung function tests showing a restrictive ventilatory defect
  • Reduction in lung volume 
  • Right-sided heart failure

How to Find Asbestos in Your Home

Asbestos is prevalent in American homes that were built in the 19th and late 20th centuries. By the 1970s, the serious health risks of asbestos had become recognized, and its use diminished. This means that homeowners with properties built before the 1980s will likely have materials that could release asbestos particles. 

What to Do If You Have Asbestos in Your Home

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Asbestos is present in building materials that include:

  • Vermiculite
  • Roofing shingles
  • Sidings
  • Insulation
  • Furnaces
  • Pipe lagging
  • Vinyl sheeting and floor tiles

If asbestos-containing materials are present in your home, most of the time, they won’t be a problem. It is only damaged or disturbed asbestos material that releases asbestos particles. Intact materials should simply be left alone and observed for signs of wear over time. Even slightly damaged asbestos may be able to be sealed off.

It’s important to note that asbestos can also be tracked into the home. If you live near asbestos mines, industrial buildings, or construction sites, there is a risk of exposure to asbestos particles brought in with dust from outside. Occupants in industries like construction, brake and clutch repair, and HVAC may carry asbestos dust on their work clothes and footwear.

When asbestos doesn’t require removal by specialist contractors, running an air purifier that tackles stray fibers in the environment is beneficial. The best air purifiers use HEPA air filter technology to trap any harmful particles in room air so you can be confident that your health is protected.

Overview of the Best Air Purifiers for Asbestos

ModelLEVOIT PlasmaPro 400sCoway Airmega 400Winix 5500-2Dyson Pure Hot+Cool HP01Medify MA-40
Style
ProsH13 HEPA filtrationLarge space coverageGreat value for moneyPowerful airflowSmall footprint
ConsFilter may need to be replaced frequentlyNo smart controlsNot smartNot specifically designed as an air purifierLow CADR
CADR260677240N/A380
Filter technologyFibrous filter mediaAdsorbent media (activated carbon)
Fibrous filter mediaAdsorbent media (activated carbon)Fibrous filter mediaAdsorbent media (activated carbon)
Fibrous filter mediaFibrous filter media
Recommended room size403 sq. ft1,560 sq. ft 360 sq. ft 999 sq. ft800 sq. ft
Weight 18.6 pounds 24.7 pounds15.3 pounds8.58 pounds15 pounds
Price$219.99$507.24$249.99$489.99$349.00
More detailsBuy on AmazonBuy on AmazonBuy on AmazonBuy on AmazonBuy on Amazon

Best Asbestos Air Purifiers

These air purifiers feature industry-standard HEPA filtration which is currently the best filter type for asbestos particles. 

1. LEVOIT PlasmaPro 400s

Specifications

Technology usedAdsorbent media (activated carbon)Fibrous filter media
Certifications / RatingsHEPA H13Energy Star
Filter(s)Pre-filterH13 HEPAActivated carbon filter
Replaceable/removable partsPre-filter and HEPA filter
Wattage38 Watts 
Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR)260
Space coverage403 sq. ft 
Noise level (decibels)24+
ControlMobile app, voice control, control panel on device
Dimensions10.79 x 10.79 x 20.47 in (27.4 × 27.4× 52 cm)
Weight11.02 pounds (4.99 kilograms)
Warranty 2-year limited manufacturer’s
User manualLEVOIT PlasmaPro 400s Air Purifier manual

Review of the LEVOIT PlasmaPro 400s Air Purifier 

This smart air purifier features H13 HEPA filtration which can competently remove asbestos particles, and other harmful particles, from room air on an ongoing basis. It is sized appropriately for a large room (403 sq ft space coverage), making it ideal for running during or after dust-laden renovation work as a safety measure. 

Asbestos fibers cannot escape the three-stage filtration of this air purifier, which includes a  High-Efficiency Activated Carbon Filter that traps other lung-damaging pollutants like volatile organic chemicals for a boost in indoor air quality. The washable pre-filter handles large particles like pet dander so that the true HEPA filter.

Leave the LEVOIT PlasmaPro 400s running continually on auto mode and monitor air quality via your smartphone’s air purifier’s VeSync app. Its operation isn’t intrusive, with a nighttime whisper-quiet setting of just 24 decibels. You can also connect this air purifier to Alexa for voice control.

Pros & Cons of the LEVOIT PlasmaPro 400s Air Purifier 

Pros:

  • This device has a dust sensor that controls the fan speed (auto mode)
  • The LEVOIT PlasmaPro 400s will alert owners when filter replacement is required
  • 360-degree air intake and released
  • Intuitive LED control panel and air quality indicator on the top of the device
  • Energy-Star certified

Cons:

  • Some users report that the replaceable filters have a short shelf-life
  • Setup via the VeSync app can be difficult for some users
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2. Coway Airmega 400

Specifications

Technology usedAdsorbent media (activated carbon)Fibrous filter media
Certifications / RatingsTrue HEPA 
Filter(s)Pre-filterTrue HEPAActive Carbon filter
Replaceable/removable partsPre-filterTrue HEPAActive Carbon filter
Wattage66 Watts 
Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR)677
Space coverage1560 sq. ft 
Noise level (decibels)22+
ControlMobile app, voice control, control panel on device
Dimensions14.8 x 14.8 x 22.8 in (37.6 × 37.6 × 58 cm)
Weight24.7 pounds (11.2 kilograms)
Warranty 5-year limited manufacturer’s
User manualCoway Airmega 400 Air Purifier manual

Review of the Coway Airmega 400 Air Purifier 

This is an extremely powerful HEPA air purifier that can capture plenty of asbestos fibers and other contaminants from a large indoor space. It will cover over 1,560 sq ft in 30 minutes, passing air through its multi-layered filter system. The Coway Airmega 400’s Green True HEPA filter can remove 99.99% of particles that are 0.01 microns in diameter, so it is capable of trapping 0.7 to 0.9 micron-long asbestos fibers.

The onboard sensor of the Coway Airmega 400 is an important feature that can be used to run an auto mode where the air purifier adjusts its fan speed to room air quality, so you always breathe easier. If you have just completed a home reno and are concerned about asbestos, simply activate the Smart Mode feature and leave the device running. 

Pros & Cons of the Coway Airmega 400 Air Purifier 

Pros:

  • Eco mode setting will shut off the air purifier if the sensor indicates the room air is clean.
  • Sleep mode provided quiet, energy conniving function
  • Filter replacement alerts and air quality indicator onboard
  • Timer function and scheduler available

Cons:

  • Not smart: no app or Alexa control
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3. Winix 5500-2

Specifications

Technology usedAdsorbent media (activated carbon)Fibrous filter media
Certifications / RatingsTrue HEPA Energy Star
Filter(s)True HEPAPlasmaWaveWashable AOCTM Carbon Filter
Replaceable/removable partsPre-filterTrue HEPAActive Carbon filter
Wattage6 – 65 Watts 
Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR)240
Space coverage360 sq. ft 
Noise level (decibels)27.8+
ControlRemote control, control panel on device
Dimensions15 x 8.2 x 23.6 in (38.1 × 20.8 × 59.9 cm)
Weight15.4 pounds (7 kilograms)
Warranty 2-year limited manufacturer’s
User manualWinix 5500-2 Air Purifier manual

Review of the Winix 5500-2 Air Purifier 

The Winix 5500-2 is a great budget buy. It features True HEPA filtration that can competently capture asbestos particles and other indoor air pollutants and allergens. It also has a carbon filter that is ideal for absorbing volatile organic chemicals released by painting and decorating work. 

The space coverage of this air purifier is limited to 360 sq ft, more than enough for a smaller living room or bedroom. It has multiple fan settings, an air quality sensor, and auto mode. The sleep mode is a super-quiet 27.8 decibels. 

Pros & Cons of the Winix 5500-2 Air Purifier 

Pros:

  • App and remote control of air purifier
  • Cost-effective replacement True HEPA filters
  • Washable carbon filter (washing not advised if the device is used for asbestos)

Cons:

  • Remote control has limited functionality
  • The air quality sensor may not control the fan speed adequately
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4. Dyson Pure Hot+Cool HP01

Specifications

Technology usedFibrous filter media
Certifications / RatingsHEPA Energy Star
Filter(s)HEPA
Replaceable/removable partsHEPA
Wattage40 -1500 Watts (heater)
Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR)240
Space coverage999 sq. ft 
Noise level (decibels)56
ControlControl panel on device, remote control
Dimensions15 x 8.2 x 23.6 in (38.1 × 20.8 × 59.9 cm)
Weight15.4 pounds (7 kilograms)
Warranty 2-year limited manufacturer’s
User manualDyson Pure Hot+Cool HP01 Air Purifier manual

Review of the Dyson Pure Hot+Cool HP01 Air Purifier

The Dyson Pure Hot+Cool HP01 is a heater and fan, in addition to being a HEPA-based air purifier. It can remove asbestos from the air using the replaceable HEPA filter at the base of the unit that provides 360-degree filtration.

The Dyson Pure Hot+Cool HP01 is controlled via a panel on the device, which includes a filter life indicator. A basic remote control is also provided. You can also program the machine to power down at specific intervals. 

Pros & Cons of the Dyson Pure Hot+Cool HP01 Air Purifier 

Pros:

  • App and remote control of air purifier
  • Cost-effective replacement True HEPA filters
  • Washable carbon filter (washing not advised if the device is used for asbestos)

Cons:

  • Dyson does not specify a CADR for this device
  • Basic air purification function
  • The HEPA filter is not fully sealed
  • No air quality sensor or auto mode
  • Not smart
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5. Medify MA-40

Specifications

Technology usedFibrous filter media
Certifications / RatingsHEPA CARBEnergy Star
Filter(s)HEPA H13
Replaceable/removable partsHEPA H13
Wattage68 Watts
Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR)380
Space coverage800 sq. ft 
Noise level (decibels)46 – 66
ControlControl panel on device
Dimensions10.5 x 11 x 22 in (27 × 28 × 56 cm)
Weight15 pounds (6.8 kilograms)
Warranty Lifetime manufacturer’s warranty if registered and maintained with filter changes
User manualMedify MA-40 Air Purifier manual

Review of the Medify MA-40 Air Purifier

This is a HEPA H13 air purifier that has powerful air cleansing that can purify up to 800 sq feet of room air from asbestos and dust in 30 minutes. Its certified HEPA filtration will competently entrap asbestos from the air along with other common particulate air pollutants. 

The Medify MA-40 Air Purifier has three fan speeds, including an ultra-quiet setting that can be run overnight. Device controls are straightforward with a sleek touchscreen operation panel, timer, and filter replacement indicator. Filters should last 6 months and can be easily replaced.

Pros & Cons of the Medify MA-40 Air Purifier 

Pros:

  • Powerful HEPA H13 filtration targets airborne asbestos fibers
  • Easy on-board controls and programming

Cons:

  • Not smart
  • No auto mode
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Our Testing Process

We understand the competent performance of an asbestos air purifier can be life-saving, so we have carefully evaluated our featured air purifiers using key performance indicators and industry standards for efficiency and effectiveness. Here are the essential areas evaluated to identify the best air purifier for asbestos:

1. Air purifier filter specifications

HEPA filtration is the standard for safely removing solid particles like asbestos fibers from an indoor environment. The best air purifier for asbestos will contain a HEPA air filter. But as HEPA is not a trademarked standard, the term can be used loosely, with various marketing terms that do not always reflect true tested and certified HEPA performance which is essential for removing asbestos. 

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), which developed HEPA filtration, defines the HEPA standard as removing 99.97% of particles that are 0.3 microns in diameter (tiny particles). Alongside this generic standard, terms like True HEPA, H13, and H14 HEPA are used, which may or may not exceed this standard. 

For asbestos removal, the fibrous material surface area should be as large as possible to reduce air resistance and maximize its capacity for holding particulates. It is also essential that the filter has a decent lifespan and can be safely replaced when full. If asbestos fibers are trapped in the filter, awkward removal could cause some to be released and inhaled while the filter is handled.

2. Air purifier effectiveness

Air purifiers for asbestos must be effective. The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) specifies that effective air purifiers should be able to reduce airborne pollutants in an enclosed test environment by 80%. 

3. Air purifier efficiency

The best air purifier for asbestos must also be efficient to ensure that asbestos fibers do not build up in room air. Air purifier efficiency refers to the percentage of pollutants a filter removes from the air that passes through it. The efficiency rating can be quoted for different pollutants and particle sizes, as in the case of HEPA filtration. 

4. Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR)

This industry metric, developed by the AHAM, is an extremely useful indicator of an air purifier’s performance. With asbestos, the affected air should be rapidly turned over by the air purifier, preventing fibers from lingering and potentially being inhaled. CADR multiplies the airflow rate by filter efficiency, with high CADR rating indicating that an air purifier delivers contaminant-free air quickly. 

5. Space coverage

A portable air purifier for asbestos must be properly matched to the room size where it will operate. Every reputable air purifier will quote the space coverage it is designed for, usually in square feet. 

6. Energy consumption

If you are purchasing an air purifier to handle asbestos, it needs to be run continually. This means that the energy consumption of the unit you choose needs to be considered. Modern HEPA filter-based air purifiers are usually energy-efficient unless run at the highest settings. Look for units that carry the Energy Star rating.

Tips for Reducing Exposure to Asbestos

Asbestos can be released as airborne particles from asbestos-containing material in your home that degrades or becomes damaged. Because of the hazardous nature of asbestos, you must avoid breathing it, and keep its levels down in indoor air. Here are seven tips for reducing indoor exposure to asbestos from the CDC

  1. Minimize possible sources of asbestos: If you live in an older property, seek professional assistance to remove old insulation, paneling, sidings, and ceiling tiles that are possible sources of asbestos.
  2. Do not touch or disturb potential asbestos-causing materials: This can release fibers into the air, which can be inhaled.
  3. Get professional advice:  Your local or state environmental agencies can direct you to approved asbestos abatement contractors who can test and remove asbestos from your home. 
  4. Close windows and doors if you are near a construction site: Asbestos fibers may be released by construction or demolition activity.
  5. Dust with a damp cloth: Asbestos dust will cling to a damp rag.
  6. Run an air purifier with a HEPA filter: A HEPA air purifier will trap the asbestos fibers that are suspended in room air. You can also use a vacuum cleaner that contains a HEPA filter.
  7. Use washable rugs: These can be cleaned frequently.

How Do HEPA Air Purifiers Work Against Asbestos?

High Efficiency Particulate Arresting (HEPA) filters trap the small particles of asbestos in mats of corrugated polypropylene or fiberglass. The fibers in a HEPA filter are typically between 0.5 and 2.0 microns in diameter and completely randomly arranged. The air passing through the HEPA filter takes a convoluted journey and is slowed down, causing asbestos fibers to collide with the filter fibers and become trapped using a combination of diffusion, interception by filter fibers, impaction, and electrostatic attraction

How to Create a Comprehensive Asbestos Removal Plan

Asbestos abatement is extremely risky because of the release of airborne particles. It should only be undertaken by a suitably qualified and experienced professional. Homeowners are strongly advised not to attempt to remove asbestos themselves but to use an asbestos abatement company that tests suspected asbestos material and removes it in accordance with strict guidelines and regulations.

Asbestos removal companies are regulated by state and federal law and are usually licensed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) or Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

A comprehensive asbestos removal plan explains how asbestos will be managed in a property, complying with relevant local, state, and federal regulations. Here are some of the key points it addresses:

The Type of Asbestos Removal Work Undertaken

Professional contractors can undertake several classes of asbestos abatement. These are outlined in an asbestos removal plan:

  • Class I asbestos work: This involves the removal of Thermal System Insulation (TSI), surfacing materials, and  Presumed Asbestos Containing Materials (PACM).
  • Class II asbestos work: Removal of Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM) that are not thermal insulation or surfacing materials. This includes a wide range of building materials that may be suspected to contain asbestos. 
  • Class III asbestos work: This covers asbestos abatement that takes place as part of renovation or maintenance work. This is the most common reason for undertaking asbestos removal.
  • Class IV asbestos work: This work is focused on thoroughly cleaning waste from Class I, II, and III activities.

The Specific Activities of Asbestos Removal Personnel

A  comprehensive asbestos removal plan also outlines specific activities undertaken by the asbestos abatement team members. To ensure regulations are met, the plan should document:

  • Pre-asbestos removal activities 
  • How team members should prepare work areas for asbestos removal
  • The setup of decontamination units and decontamination procedures for workers
  • The use of Personal Protective Clothing (PPC) and respirators
  • The safe handling and disposal of asbestos waste at licensed disposal sites

Frequently Asked Questions


What Kind of Filter Do You Use for Asbestos?


The HEPA filter is the industry standard filter for asbestos removal, cleaning, and air filtration. This is because certified True HEPA filters efficiently remove 99.97% of particles of 0.3 microns in diameter. This means HEPA filters can trap asbestos fibers, typically larger than the minimum particle size filtered by a standard HEPA filter. 


Are HEPA Air Purifiers Safe?


High Efficiency Particulate Arrestor filters are one of the safest air-cleaning technologies available. Because these air purifiers move air through a densely corrugated filter with acrylic, fiberglass, borosilicate glass, or polypropylene fibers, there is very little potential for harm. In fact, HEPA air filters cannot generate harmful substances like ozone or formaldehyde, as some classes of air purifiers can.

However, there is a theoretical risk of fiberglass or borosilicate glass from the filter being released into the air, but this does not occur significantly. So you can use a true HEPA filter air purifier with confidence. 


Can I Put a HEPA Filter In My Furnace?


No. Though Furnace insulation may contain asbestos, installing a HEPA filter in a furnace could be extremely dangerous. A true HEPA filter is dense and slows down the airflow to the furnace, potentially compromising the air supply and increasing the risk of carbon monoxide generation. For a furnace, unobstructed ventilation is a priority. 


What Does Asbestos Look Like?


In its natural state, asbestos looks like a white fibrous crystal forming-mineral. It has an intricate sub-structure composed of fibrils that have fibers that are long and thin. If the crystalline structure of asbestos is disturbed, asbestos fibers break off, releasing small fibers of around 1.0 microns in size. These particles are the primary health concern but are not visible to the human eye.


Will any HEPA Air Purifier Remove Asbestos?


Yes, HEPA air filtration technology is extremely effective at trapping and retaining asbestos fibers suspended in indoor air. Asbestos fibers are extremely small and fine mineral fibers, usually ranging in size between 0.7 and 1 micron. They are well within the target range of a true HEPA filter which uses mechanical fiber-based filtration that can strip particles as small as 0.3 microns in diameter. 
Asbestos professionals, who handle, test, and remove asbestos, routinely use HEPA filtration to cleanse indoor air and prevent these fibers from contaminating the environment. Industrial air purifiers and shop vacs for asbestos routinely use HEPA as it is an industry-standard. To stay on top of asbestos, air purifiers must turn over room air quickly, with a high CADR. 

But it is important to note that people will continue to be exposed to asbestos in indoor air without tackling the source of asbestos release. Open sources of asbestos must be eliminated urgently so that a HEPA-based air purifier can truly clean the air. The ongoing release of asbestos reduces the effectiveness of an air purifier, raising the risk of exposure to building occupants.

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What To Do if You Have Asbestos in Your Home?


Asbestos in residential properties is not an uncommon issue. According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, the presence of asbestos in a property is not hazardous in itself. Because asbestos is present in many building materials, most agencies will only take action if an asbestos-based material becomes damaged, potentially releasing fibers into the air.
If you are concerned that there is asbestos material in your home but there is no evidence of damage, it is best left alone. It is impossible to identify asbestos without professional testing. Removing asbestos yourself is likely to disturb intact material, releasing fibers that can be inhaled. 

Asbestos material in high-traffic areas of your home that can be knocked or damaged is a serious health hazard. You can contact your municipal environmental health department for advice on what to do. If there is a risk, a professional asbestos contractor will test the material and advise on the complete safe removal of the material or sealing of the area so that fibers cannot escape. 

In Conclusion

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Asbestos is a nasty substance that carries a significant risk of lung cancer. Don’t risk exposure; take action by running a HEPA-based air purifier to remove asbestos particles in affected areas of your property. This will protect you from health problems while you seek the assistance of professionals who can safely remove asbestos from your property.