What Is the Difference Between Asbestos Testing TEM vs. PCM?
People often associate the term "air quality" with the outdoors. However, it turns out your indoor air quality can often be more dangerous than outdoor conditions. The CCOHS reports that there are more air pollutants in your home than there are outside.
One common threat to indoor air quality is asbestos particles for buildings constructed before the 80’s. Asbestos is a naturally occurring particle that can resist heat and electricity; because of this it was widely used in construction before it was later discovered that exposure to this particle is also highly toxic.
Therefore, asbestos testing can be very critical for occupied buildings. Investing in asbestos testing will verify the presence of asbestos in your house, or business, to ensure your indoor air quality is safe for inhabiting. Two of the most common forms for asbestos testing is TEM and PCM.
Knowing about these methods can help you uncover asbestos. So, in this guide, we'll explore the differences between these two most commonly used types of asbestos testing. Let's jump right in!
How PCM Asbestos Testing Works
PCM (Phase Contrast Microscopy) is a common testing method for finding asbestos at higher concentration levels. This method uses an optical microscope to count the fibres on a cassette filter to find the total fibre concentration. Ideally, the test will reveal that the concentration of asbestos is less than Environment Canada’s clearance levels.
PCM asbestos testing enhances the contrast of transparent objects while also filtering out background light. Once we complete the test, we send it to our laboratory for analysis to determine your asbestos test results.
There are several benefits of PCM asbestos testing. One of the main advantages is they provide quick results. Likewise, this testing method is less expensive.
However, there are also downsides to this approach. It's often less accurate since it cannot positively identify low level concentrations of asbestos.
How TEM Asbestos Testing Works
The second most common approach for testing for asbestos is TEM (Transmission Electron Microscopy). This test uses an electron microscope, a tool that can see much smaller and thinner fibres than an optical microscope. These devices scan and determine how many asbestos fibres are present in the air even at a very low concentration levels.
As you may expect, this approach is not as affordable as PCM asbestos testing. Likewise, TEM asbestos testing also takes more time to gain the test results.
However, these tests provide greater accuracy. There's a much lower chance of finding a false-positive result.
Choosing TEM vs. PCM
Choosing between these two tests depends on several factors. Generally speaking, TEM asbestos testing is wildly used for building occupant environments. Whereas PCM asbestos testing is more-so used for personnel monitoring and environmental monitoring for when known asbestos has been disturbed.
Find an Air Quality / Asbestos Testing Service You Can Trust
Take out the guess work!
At BC Hazmat we provide asbestos testing as a safety solution for an array of property owner’s needs. Our friendly staff members all meet or exceed Worksafe BC requirements, our inspectors are AHERA certified, and our lab techs are NIOSH certified. You can trust on our reputation and professionalism to do the job right, and as per governmental guidelines.
Get in touch with us at BC Hazmat today to schedule asbestos testing for your home or business.