What is an Air Scrubber?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 November 2019
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An air scrubber is a device that is used to remove particles, gases, or chemicals from the air within a given area. While most air filtration systems of this type are designed to handle only one of these types of pollutants, there are a few industrial air cleaners that will handle two and even all three contaminants. Most scrubbers are configured to complete at least six cycles of operation each hour, helping to keep the air in the space free of any type of contamination.

In any facility where airborne contaminants are common, the use of an air scrubber is one of the best ways to protect the health of the employees. For example, workers in a textile plant are constantly exposed to airborne particles that come from the fibers used to weave different types of materials. The right air scrubber will make particle control much more effective than simply providing employees with face masks, and decrease the potential for the bronchial condition known as white lung.

Another application of the air scrubber as an essential part of workplace safety equipment is to remove gases from the air within a space. This can be especially helpful in laboratories and other facilities where fumes are common. The effective fumes control of the right scrubber significantly reduces exposure to gases that over time could have a detrimental impact on the health of anyone working in the area.


Like most air filtration systems, an air scrubber makes use of purification filters that help to remove contaminants as the air within the space is circulated through the system. Several times each hour, the scrubber draws the contaminated air from the space while simultaneously pumping in fresh air that is free of gases, chemicals, or airborne particles. Many designs call for the inclusion of high efficiency particle air filters, commonly known as HEPA filters. These filters are capable of capturing a considerable amount of contaminants, making them more efficient than many other types of filters. In addition, a good quality HEPA filter does not have to be changed as often as other filters, a quality that many consumers find attractive.

The size and complexity of an air scrubber system will depend on the size of the space that the unit will service, as well as the range and type of contaminants that must be removed from the area. Some air scrubbing systems can be installed with ease, while others may require some alterations to the building in order to assure maximum efficiency. A qualified builder can evaluate the area where the air scrubber will be installed, and make recommendations on the size and type of equipment necessary to keep the air clean on a continuous basis.


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Post 7

I just bought a house and after I bought it I ran the oven on a cleaning cycle. Well, for whatever reason, that activated a very strong smoky smell that I didn't realize had been there.

I am having a duct cleaning company come out and clean and sanitize the ducts and they were also talking about putting in an air scrubber. I have had several people tell me that it just covers up the problem and just scents the air. The specialist I had talked to had told me I would want to clean my house once a week (pretty much spring cleaning like) and the air scrubber would keep the air itself clean. As far as cigarette problems

, who's right? Does it just mask the smell a bit and not really keep the air safe to breathe, or if I do like the specialist suggests and put in the air scrubber, will the air actually be cleaner.

I know the walls will never be perfect, but will it make the air safer?

Post 6

Do not, however, use a Scrubber to neutralize VOCs, unless you burn them first. --Scrubber technology specialist

Post 5

We had the air ducts cleaned by a NADCA member company. Right after they set up and turned on the air scrubber I started to smell a musty smell and began to get dizzy. Turns out the air scrubber was not cleaned prior to servicing our home and now my elderly mom and I get sick whenever the heat comes up. We had to hire a different air duct cleaning to come in another week to redo the job.

I would assume that when an air scrubber is working, that no smells should be coming from it. But I can tell you that the air in our home became heavy and very musty smelling. We are afraid to turn up the heat for fear of getting sick and the temp. yesterday and today is in the teens where we live. Not a great way to exist, all thanks to a dirty air scrubber.

Post 4

Hello -- I just finished reading your very informative article, and I wanted to ask a question. I am planning on completely repainting the inside of my house in a month or so, and I was wondering if it would be a good idea to get one of those air scrubber rental units while I am doing so.

I have never done a painting project of this magnitude before, and am not quite sure how to go about doing it without risking asphyxiating myself!

Do you have any advice, or know what I should do?

Thank you.

Post 3

Such a great article. So many people just have no idea how dangerous it is to breathe in bad air all day long until they get really sick.

I work in an alternative health store, and I can tell you, one of our best sellers has been the little portable HEPA air scrubbers that you can get for your house.

So many people live in new houses these days that are just chock-full of chemicals, from the paint to the preserver on the carpet. It can be truly deadly, no exaggeration, if you don't clean that stuff out.

I know one lady had been having severe sinus infections ever since she moved into a new house. She

thought that it was hayfever, since she had never lived in that climate before, but it turned out that it was actually a powerful chemical that was in the paste used for her wallpaper!

After she installed a portable air scrubber in her home and a few weeks went by, everything cleared up and she felt fine again. So remember, the air you breathe really does affect you. Don't risk your health -- if you think your home might be polluted, then get an air filter, or at least get a test done.


Post 2

Industrial air scrubbers are amazing, but only as long as they're working properly. I used to work for a company who did audits of workplace conditions, and you would be amazed to see how bad things can get if you don't clean the scrubber often enough, or if you get one that's not suited for whatever purpose you're using it for.

I remember one case where we were looking at a textile company that had been having a lot of complaints from their employees about the air quality. When we went to look at their industrial air scrubber, it was completely covered in mold.

So instead of cleaning the air like it was supposed to the air scrubber

just circulated mold all over the factory, and a ton of people had gotten fungal respiratory infections.

So remember, an air pollution scrubber is only good as long as you keep it in proper working condition. You can have the best HEPA air scrubber in the world, but if it's not working properly, then you might as well not have one at all.

Post 1

Whenever I think of the term air scrubber all I can think about is the problem that the Apollo 13 moon mission had when they faced the dangers of their spaceship having failing systems.

In the Hollywood version of the story, much time is spent by engineers on the ground in Houston in an attempt to make a misshaped air scrubber filter fit and work with a mismatched system. They had to do this to eliminate the toxic levels of carbon dioxide that were building up in their very dangerous situation.

By using a variety of other components that the astronauts had available, a way of connecting the two different types of scrubbers was devised and managed to make the on-board air environment, livable.

I think sometimes we take for granted the fact that the air we breath into our lungs is actually OK for us.

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