Air Scrubbers & Negative Air Machines
What are air scrubbers?
An air scrubber is a portable filtration system that removes particles, gasses, and/or chemicals from the air within a given area. These machines draw air in from the surrounding environment and pass it through a series of filters to remove contaminants. The size and complexity of an air scrubber system will depend on the size of the space being serviced, as well as the range, type, and size of contaminants that must be removed from the area.
Why should I use an air scrubber?
Air scrubbers are especially important on restoration jobs where airborne contaminants are present or will be created/disturbed during the restoration process, such as mold, dust, asbestos, lead, chemical fumes, etc. These hazardous particles can settle on carpet, upholstery, and furnishings, or be drawn into the HVAC system and contaminate other parts of a building.
If these contaminants are not removed, they will have a negative effect on the indoor air quality (IAQ) of the worksite. While naturally occurring particles, such as human skin cells, animal hair, and dirt, are nearly always present, toxic gases released by sewage-borne bacteria and mold spores can cause adverse human health effects when inhaled. In short, these contaminants can compromise the quality of the entire restoration job.
Air scrubbers help protect the health of workers and building occupants by providing a clean and healthy environment. They also help protect contractors from costly liability claims resulting from damage caused by hazardous airborne materials.
What is the difference between negative air machine and air scrubber?
The terms “air scrubber” and “negative air machine” are often used interchangeably; however, the two terms refer to different applications.
An air scrubber stands alone in the center of a room with no ducting attached. The air is filtered and recirculated, greatly improving the general air quality. An air scrubber can be used as a negative air machine, but it requires ducting, a sealed housing, precise airflow adjustment, and a variable speed blower motor.
A negative air machine uses ducting to remove contaminated air from a sealed containment area. The filtered air is exhausted outside of the containment area. This creates negative air pressure (a vacuum effect), which helps limit the spread of contaminants to other areas inside the structure.
What’s the difference between negative and positive air scrubbing?
Most often, contractors will use ducting and an air scrubber to create a negative pressure environment that will contain the hazardous particles within a workspace. Air will always flow from high pressure to low pressure. So, creating and maintaining a negative pressure environment will create a constant inward flow towards the air scrubber, preventing airborne contaminants and odors from escaping the workspace through any leaks or openings.
Positive air scrubbing techniques are used less often, but do have their place. In some situations, it may be necessary to protect an area from contamination. This is achieved by placing the air scrubber outside the work area and using a duct to direct the “scrubbed” air inside the desired location. This positively pressurizes the area with “scrubbed” air and prevents contaminated air from entering.