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What is an Air Scrubber?

In the simplest terms, an air scrubber is a portable filtration system. It
draws in air from the surrounding environment and passes it through a
series of filters. These filters efficiently remove particles from the air to
help improve indoor air quality.
Air scrubber or negative air machine?
Often the terms "air scrubber" and "negative air machine" are used
interchangeably. However, the two terms refer to very different
An air scrubber stands alone in the center of a room without any
ducting attached. The air it filters is recirculated to the surrounding
area. An air scrubber application helps improve the general air quality
of the jobsite.
A negative air machine uses ducting to remove contaminated air from
a sealed containment area. The filtered air is exhausted outside of the
containment. This creates negative air pressure (a slight vacuum
effect) inside the containment relative to surrounding areas. A negative
air machine application helps limit the spread of contaminants to other
areas inside the structure.
Many air scrubbers can also be used as a negative air machine, but
this requires additional features:
ductable in and ductable out
sealed housing
precise airflow adjustment
a blower motor with variable speed to maintain containment


In addition to issues with the shop/HEPA vacuum, there was also inappropriate use of an air filtration device in the inspection areas. The inspectors’ attempt to use an air scrubber to capture spores, drywall dust, and other contamination created by their work was rendered ineffective and dangerous by their careless use of the equipment.

Since they did not have the benefit of a negative pressure enclosure the position of the air scrubber in each inspection area was critical. On many occasions the air scrubber was positioned near the work. However, there were times when the scrubber was in the way of the work performed by the inspectors, so it was pushed out of the way. In these instances, there appeared to be no regard for the direction of the exhaust from the machine. Sometimes the exhaust was directed toward, rather than away from, the contaminated areas, including wall cavities and
recently removed materials that were resting on the floor with visible contamination. This caused an uncontrolled dispersal of contaminated dust into the atmosphere of several rooms.
Again, a review of industry documents would have been helpful in avoiding such problems:

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