Do You Need to Get the Air Tested After Asbestos Removal?
Asbestos removal is a complex process. If not done correctly, the asbestos fibres can become airborne, putting all the occupants in each building at risk. That’s why investing in air testing following asbestos work is essential. Here’s what you need to know.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that, until the 1990s, was commonly found in ceiling tiles, floor tiles, insulation, cement siding, and many other building materials in Canada.
Asbestos is harmless as long as it remains inside the materials it’s used in. However, if the materials crumble due to age or are disturbed during renovations or demolition, the fibres can become airborne, posing a severe health hazard. Asbestos fibres lodge themselves in the lungs if inhaled, leading to fibrotic lung disease and a type of cancer called mesothelioma.
Why you should get your air tested after asbestos removal
After asbestos removal, the fibres in the air typically settle within 48 to 72 hours. However, asbestos fibres are tiny and very light. Therefore, they can easily be disturbed and recirculated through the air.
Consequently, it’s good to hire a professional company to perform an air test before allowing occupants to enter the area. The test will ensure the asbestos removal was done correctly, the area was adequately cleaned, and the air is acceptable for people to breathe.
How asbestos air testing is done
There are two types of asbestos air testing: phase contrast microscopy (PCM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Here’s a basic rundown of how each method works.
- PCM air testing is done by drawing air through a cassette filter over a set amount of time. An asbestos analyst then examines the airborne particles under a PCM microscope.
PCM is the most common type of air testing because it’s convenient and affordable. However, it’s not entirely failproof. The test doesn’t differentiate between asbestos fibres and other types of particles, such as fibreglass or cellulose, commonly used in building materials. Therefore, the test results can be skewed.
- TEM air testing is more accurate than PCM testing but more expensive and time-consuming. It utilizes a powerful electron microscope to accurately identify the type and concentration of asbestos fibres in the air. Due to the superior technology, the results of TEM air testing can take several days to come back.
In both cases, the air test must come back with an exposure limit of 0.1 fibres per cubic centimetre (cc) to be considered safe.
Asbestos testing and hazmat surveys iN British Columbia
If you recently removed asbestos from your home or business, BC Hazmat Inspections can conduct an air monitoring analysis to ensure no remaining fibres are present. We also provide hazmat surveys and asbestos testing for residential, commercial and industrial customers. We have an in-house lab staffed by NIOSH-certified technicians (National Institute for Occupational Safety) that offer quick turnaround times. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.