Filter Leak Testing in Asbestos Abatement/Mold Remediation

With asbestos abatement or mold remediation projects, the primary concern is the exposure of workers and the general public to the release of airborne hazards.

Asbestos was a popular building material found in older residential and commercial buildings. Asbestos can be dangerous when disturbed, during times of renovation or demolition. The airborne particles easily enter the lungs and the fibers cause serious health hazards.

Concern about indoor exposure to mold has been increasing as the public becomes aware that exposure to molds can cause a variety of health issues, including allergic reactions, asthma, and fibromyalgia. Mold spores are most likely to be stirred up into the air during the mold removal process, thus special care must be taken during cleanup activities.

Asbestos abatement and mold remediation requires preventing the spread of contamination beyond the containment area. One way to contain hazardous airborne particles is by using Negative Pressure Units (NPU) which pull clean, HEPA-filtered air into the containment area to not let asbestos fibers or mold out into the surrounding environment. Workers also use special (H-Class) vacuum cleaners during and after the cleanup process.

Why is it important to test HEPA filters for leaks?

Unfortunately, the NPU units and H-Class vacuum cleaners can also be the primary cause of releasing asbestos fibers or mold outside of the containment area due to undetected leaks in and around the HEPA filter. Portable abatement equipment like NPUs are often stacked and stored and impacted during transport which can shear and weaken the housings. NPUs and H-Class vacuum cleaners are also under constant vibration while in operation, which can lead to HEPA filter housing and seal compromises resulting in dangerous leaks.

While some countries require HEPA filter integrity tests for NPUs and H-Class vacuum cleaners, not all do. Even if not required by law, there’s good reason to regularly test the integrity of HEPA filters.

How are ATI’s products used?

In line with European Industry Standards, all NPUs and H-Class vacuum cleaners should be tested and their HEPA filters inspected twice a year, regardless of their frequency of use, to ensure that the machine is in good working order and meeting all the safety requirements. The HEPA filter integrity test requires portable test equipment to generate and measure the concentration of a challenge aerosol, and then detect the amount of aerosol that leaks through the filtration system.

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