Asbestos Air Testing and Monitoring

 28/05/2015

How do you know if asbestos is present in an item?
You cannot tell whether a material contains asbestos by simply looking at it.
The material has to be tested for you to know. If you suspect any material in your home has asbestos, it is highly recommended that you contact an asbestos licenced assessor.

Asbestos air monitoring is very important if:

  1. You have plans to remodel or renovate your home.
  2. You’re working with asbestos containing building materials that are damaged or have deteriorated over time, so that fibres might have been released and are present in the air.

Clearly from the above two scenarios, it’s the disturbance of these materials which can lead to deterioration and the resulting release of asbestos fibres in the air. Asbestos fibres in the air can cause serious health hazards. That’s why it is important to establish the presence of asbestos in the air, implement safety measures and protect people who might be at risk of inhaling these fibres.     

Asbestos air monitoring is a word used to describe all tests carried out on respirable asbestos fibres. These tests help assess areas including the effectiveness of control measures. This process is manly done in areas or buildings where asbestos containing materials might be damaged or in poor condition and disturbance has consequently resulted in the release of asbestos fibres in the air.

There are different types of asbestos air testing and these include:

  1. Background asbestos air testing
  2. Control air testing
  3. Asbestos exposure air testing
  4. Clearance air testing

Background asbestos air testing:

This is the test done in an area where building work is due to be carried out. This is a good way to determine if there are asbestos fibres in the air.

Control air testing:

This is the test done to gauge the exposure levels of an area that is undergoing removal of materials that have asbestos in them. This method is used to measure how effective the applied control method is.

Asbestos exposure air testing:

This is a test done in the breathing zone of people and is aimed to determine the associated risk. Exposure testing and monitoring is the best way to gauge personal exposure to asbestos materials.

Clearance air testing:

This is a testing method that is used to test the air of an area following the removal of materials that have asbestos in them. The area is considered clear if the fibre level is below 0.01 fibres/ml.

When asbestos containing materials are undamaged and in sound condition

Materials that contain asbestos, if undamaged and in sound condition, do not pose any health risk. However, they do pose a threat if they are disturbed, damaged, removed improperly, torn, cut, scraped or drilled.  

It is recommended that you leave the material alone and do not try to tamper with it if it is not damaged. In leaving the materials undisturbed, it’s nevertheless a good idea to keep an eye on them to monitor any damage in the future.

If you do disturb asbestos containing materials, you may expose yourself to health risks. You might also be at risk if you do the sampling yourself incorrectly. That’s why caution should be taken when dealing with asbestos containing materials and it is highly recommended that you contact an asbestos licensed assessor to help you collect samples for asbestos testing. 

Dealing with asbestos containing material

If you have an asbestos-related problem, there are two ways that an accredited asbestos professional can help you. The first way is that by contacting a licensed asbestos removal professional, they will assist you with disposing the material legally. If the asbestos containing material cannot be removed, an accredited professional might be able to help you with repairing the material. Repairing might involve covering or sealing the torn or affected parts of the destroyed material.

Covering (enclosure):

This repair method involves covering the material with a covering that will prevent the asbestos fibres reaching the personal breathing zone. Exposed pipes are covered with a special protective wrap.

Sealing:

This is a repair method that involves treating the material with a special sealant that will bide the material back together. This will seal the original coat preventing the asbestos from releasing any asbestos fibres. Some examples of sealing include using an airless sprayer at low pressure. However, rollers or brushes may disturb the material further and hence, result in asbestos fibres being released in the air. Asbestos containing material must not be water-blasted or dry-sanded.  

Removal through a licensed asbestos removal professional is recommended if you are considering to renovate your home or you are making other major changes. This is because of how the removal process is complex and by being done by professionals, they are familiar with the required processes and procedures. Professionals will be familiar with areas including the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) required.

Accredited asbestos professionals 

These are licensed people who are hired to handle materials that contain asbestos. They will know what to look for and how to correctly handle the material. Accredited asbestos professionals include asbestos inspectors and asbestos contractors.

Asbestos inspectors:

These are professionals who access homes and buildings to assess any hazardous material. They may pick some samples for further lab analysis. They will also advise you on the best cause of action. If there is any removal or repair of any materials, asbestos inspectors will ensure that the control methods applied are effective and there is minimal health risk.

Asbestos contractors:

These are also professionals who will help you remove or repair asbestos materials in a safe way.

For your own safety, it is highly recommended that you do contact an accredited asbestos professional and avoid any interaction with asbestos materials.


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