Asbestos Testing

Testing for Asbestos

Asbestos is a general term used for a group of six, naturally occurring silicate minerals: Chrysotile, Amosite, Crocidolite, Anthophyllite, Tremolite and Actinolite. Mined since the mid-1800s, asbestos was valued for its tensile strength and its fire and chemical resistive properties. Once called the “Miracle Mineral”, asbestos was used in a wide variety of everyday products, including floor tiles, ceiling tiles, roofing, brakes, siding and insulation of attics, walls and pipes. Asbestos is commonly found in commercial, industrial and residential structures constructed before the 1990s.

Maxxam offers 3 NVLAP and AIHA-accredited labs

Leverage Maxxam’s North American Expertise for Comprehensive Asbestos Testing

Maxxam Analytics laboratories have extensive experience in asbestos analyses using light and electron microscopy and are fully equipped for all analytical requirements. Our Asbestos labs are located in Burnaby, BC, Kennesaw, GA USA and now Mississauga, ON. Asbestos analyses are routinely performed using ASTM, EPA, AHERA, ISO, NIOSH and NYELAP methods.

Maxxam offers these asbestos testing services:

  • Asbestos fibre counts (air sample) by phase contrast microscopy (PCM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM)
  • Asbestos analyses of bulk materials by polarized light microscopy (PLM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM)
  • AHERA , Yamate, NIOSH and ISO air sample analyses by transmission electron microscopy (TEM)
  • Asbestos in drinking water by TEM – EPA 100.2 and TEM – EPA 100.1(Wastewater/Groundwater)
  • Asbestos analysis in dust using ASTM methods
  • Asbestos analysis in soil and vermiculite following the ASTM D7521-16 method

Why conduct asbestos testing?

Exposure and health risks

Prolonged inhalation of airborne asbestos fibres can lead to health problems including, asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer. Asbestos-related diseases can arise many years after the initial exposure. Exposure can occur when the asbestos containing material is disturbed during product use, demolition, construction, renovation or maintenance and repair activities that release asbestos fibres into the air.

Regulated substance

Asbestos is defined as a hazardous material under strict laws. As such, regulations exist for the production, handling and safe disposal of asbestos to protect the health of humans and the environment. To comply with laws and regulations, suspected asbestos containing material (ACM) must be tested at a laboratory, and subsequently handled and disposed of properly.

Testing for asbestos

Visual inspection by the naked eye is insufficient to determine if a material contains asbestos. Instead, samples suspected of containing asbestos should be sent to a laboratory that is accredited for testing asbestos. As the North America leading testing laboratory, Maxxam Analytics accredited asbestos testing laboratories have the instrumentation, expertise and experience to properly investigate for asbestos in air, bulk, soil, dust, and water samples.

Overview of Asbestos Testing

Phase Contrast Microscopy (PCM) is used to measure fibre concentrations in air samples. This method does not differentiate between asbestos and other fibres; however, it may be used in conjunction with TEM (NIOSH Method 7402) as an aid for fibre identification. Fibre counts are based on meeting NIOSH 7400 (Asbestos and Other Fibres by PCM) method criteria for fibre determination. Results are reported as fibres per cubic centimeter. Analyses by both A-rules and B-rules for NIOSH 7400 method are available in the Kennesaw, GA laboratory.

Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM) is the primary and most economical technique used to identify asbestos in building materials. Samples are analyzed in accordance with U.S. EPA 600/R-93/116 method for the determination of Asbestos in Bulk Building Materials. The results are reported as a visual estimation of asbestos and general non-asbestos fibres by layer.

Point counting is a technique for samples estimated with low concentrations of asbestos by visual estimation using PLM. This technique provides a determination of the area percent asbestos in a sample. Reporting limits are based on the number of points counted; 200 point count provides a 0.5% (DL); 400 point count provides a 0.25% detection limit (DL); 1000 point count provides a 0.1% DL.

Gravimetry is used for the analysis of asbestos in non-friable, organically bound materials, for example floor tile, asphalt shingles, caulking, mastic, etc. Samples are prepared using a combination of ashing and acid treatment. Gravimetric reduction is used in addition to PLM and/or Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM). Results are reported as percent asbestos, which is calculated from sample weights.

Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) is used along with the PCM or PLM technique or as a standalone technique, TEM works by transmitting a beam of electrons through a sample and displaying a highly magnified image onto a screen. TEM uses energy dispersive x-ray analysis and selected area electron diffraction, to identify asbestos based on morphology, crystalline structure and elemental analysis. The results are reported as fibres per cubic centimeter.

Partnering with Maxxam

Maxxam is a leading North American provider of analytical services and solutions to the energy, environmental, food, industrial hygiene and DNA industries. We are a member of the Bureau Veritas Group of companies – a world leader in testing, inspection and certification services.

Contact your account manager or email us at enviro@maxxam.ca to discuss your project or request a quote.

By

Donna Garbutt, M.B.A. Chief Executive Officer Maxxam is the Canadian market leader in analytical services and solutions to the energy, environmental, food and DNA industries and a member of the Bureau Veritas Group of companies – a world leader in testing, inspection and certification services. We support critical decisions made by our customers through the application of rigorous science and the knowledge and expertise of our over 2200 employees. Our annual Corporate Responsibility Report outlines our efforts to continually improve our business performance and practices. Its publication is an industry first and an integral part of our commitment to success with responsibility. LinkedIn
Maxxam Analytics Maxxam is the Canadian market leader in analytical services and solutions to the energy, environmental, food and DNA industries and a member of the Bureau Veritas Group of companies – a world leader in testing, inspection and certification services. We support critical decisions made by our customers through the application of rigorous science and the knowledge and expertise of our over 2200 employees. Our annual Corporate Responsibility Report outlines our efforts to continually improve our business performance and practices. Its publication is an industry first and an integral part of our commitment to success with responsibility.
500 – 1919 Minnesota Ct., Mississauga, Ontario L5N 0C9
Phone: (905) 288-2150