Asbestos Testing: Why It Matters

People are often knowledgeable and aware of the dangers of mold, and test for it regularly, but asbestos is a major health concern that often gets overlooked by residents and building managers. Testing for asbestos fibers not only protects the health and safety of building occupants, but also ensures that your building stays up to code with environmental regulations.

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a mineral fiber that often occurs in rock and soil. These fibers were very commonly used as insulation in homes and buildings because asbestos is resistant to fire, heat, and electricity, and it can especially be found in buildings built before the 1980s. These fibers are often airborne and can be ingested during renovations and repairs that involve tearing out walls, ceilings, tiles, or pipes.

Why is asbestos dangerous?

Like many environmental toxins, asbestos can be extremely dangerous when inhaled/ingested, and is proven to lead to numerous health conditions. Most commonly, long term exposure to asbestos causes mesothelioma, lung disease, or even cancer. Preventing asbestos exposure, and removing materials containing this type of fiber, is the best way to avoid these health concerns.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acknowledges the very real danger of asbestos exposure, and therefore regulates allowable asbestos fiber levels, which vary based on building and/or facility. Staying on top of asbestos testing for your building through air monitoring ensures that you keep your occupants healthy while also keeping your building in code.

How does asbestos testing work?

At Environmental Testing & Consulting there are numerous techniques and approaches to testing for asbestos, both in materials and in the air. Polarized Light Microscopy is the most common testing method that identifies the type and percentage of asbestos in building materials and insulation. Point Counting is a method that counts the actual number of asbestos fibers, and the Gravimetric Matrix Reduction Method removes organic materials through acidic dissolution leaving behind the asbestos. Additionally, using client samples, Asbestos Phase Contrast Microscopy can be used to determine the existence of asbestos in fibrous dust.

Testing for asbestos in your home, building, or commercial property doesn’t have to be an overwhelming endeavor. At ETC, professional environmental consultants can identify asbestos levels and ensure that proper inspections and surveys are completed to adhere to all state and federal regulations.

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