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-LAP, LLC 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 (AIHA-LAP, LLC Lab ID179809, NVLAP Lab ID 600163-0), Kennesaw, GA USA (AIHA-LAP, LLC Lab ID 100651 , NVLAP Lab ID 101125-0) and now Mississauga, ON (AIHA-LAP, LLC Lab ID226950, NVLAP Lab ID 600136-0). 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.
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.
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