Asbestos testing - Whilst asbestos, a material that is made of fibres and is easily identified because of its blue and brown colours, has not been used in the construction industry for years, it can still be very dangerous if anyone comes into contact with it.
This is the reason why it is so important to have asbestos testing conducted in homes, offices and other types of properties.
Asbestos can be readily found due to it having been the preferred insulation material for buildings of both a commercial and residential nature from the 1920’s to 1999.
Other materials and products used in the construction industry also contained trace amounts of asbestos prior to 2000, these include but are not limited to; water tanks, concrete, pipes, and insulation boards.
In fact, it was used so much in the 20th Century that it is reported that an average of 15 - 25 tradesmen die each week because of previous exposure to the material!
According to the HSE (Health & Safety Executive);
"There were 2,595 mesothelioma deaths in 2016 and is estimated that there were, in addition, a similar number of deaths due to asbestos-related lung cancer."
Signs of Asbestos Exposure
Some of the most common signs and symptoms of asbestos exposure are;
- Breathing difficulty
- Chest pain
If you notice any occupants exhibiting these symptoms whilst in a building, you should contact a professional asbestos testing contractor immediately to arrange an asbestos management survey in order to help safeguard the health or residents and/or workers.
These symptoms occur because the asbestos fibres are inhaled through the nose and can become lodged in the airways leading to the lungs and the lung tissue.
When this occurs, severe respiratory complications can occur with the most severe being lung cancer. Unfortunately, it could be years or even decades before a person is diagnosed with mesothelioma or other lung complications.
So, it is clear that asbestos is a significant hazard to health and extreme care must be taken when dealing with asbestos – this starts with asbestos testing to confirm its presence and to gauge the level of risk.
Eliminate The Scattering Of Fibres
Cutting, drilling and sawing materials that could be filled with asbestos could be very dangerous.
It is even more dangerous if this is done during the demolition and removal of the property.
If asbestos is discovered during this process, professional asbestos removal contractors will help to remove and clean the materials away from the property safely.
How Is Asbestos Testing Performed?
The process of looking for asbestos in materials that are going to be used in construction begins with a survey.
Samples of the materials will be needed, and these samples have to be sent to a laboratory for testing.
Testing is not necessary for low-risk construction jobs where a licensed contractor is not needed. However, the risks must be well managed. Testing is only required for construction jobs where the HSE must be notified.
Asbestos testing is obviously highly important and is a requirement for many construction projects including demolition and renovation.
The asbestos testing will help ensure you, your family, employees and other building occupants stay safe and healthy and will also ensure that, as the duty-holder for a particular building, you do not fall foul of the law.
The CAR legislation does not actually define exactly what is considered to be a commercial property, however the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) takes a broad view and it is probably more accurate to talk about ‘non-domestic’ properties.
A commercial or non-domestic property would be any property in which members of the public either in the course of their work or regular every day activities have access to that property.
This includes commercial premises, retail premises, offices, industrial premises, hospitals, schools, universities, prisons as well as places of worship.
Also included in the definition of non-domestic property would be common areas in blocks of residential flats, in garages or car parks, access and circulation areas for flats over a retail unit and, in relation to hotels, pubs and halls of residence, all guest accommodation and communal areas.
Who is Responsible?
The individual(s) responsible for ensuring compliance with CAR is the ‘duty holder’.
The duty holder includes anyone responsible for upkeep, maintenance or repair of the premises, it also includes, where there is no contract or tenancy attached to the building any person(s) who have any measure of control over a building, or part of it, and persons who have means of access or egress to the property.
In short that broad definition covers any tenants, landlords and freeholders of a property.
Why You Shouldn't Ignore the Importance of Asbestos Air Testing
Airborne asbestos fibres pose various health risks to people working in that area. That’s why asbestos air testing is essential in places where workers have to deal with this element day-in and day-out.
What is Asbestos Air Testing?
This test involves drawing a specific volume of air using a filter into a container for a set period of time.
For example, if you need to test the asbestos in the air near a factory during working hours, you need to specify the time within which you will perform the assessment.
The air captured by the filter will contain airborne particles that are tested under a microscope to understand approximately how much asbestos is in the air at that location over that time period.
A part of the filter goes under a scanner to count the asbestos fibres over a specific area. Fibres that meet the criteria fall under the ‘dangerous’ category.
Once the experts have an idea of the number of hazardous asbestos fibres in the air, they can tell the overall fibre concentration in and around the testing area.
Why is Asbestos Air Testing Required?
Asbestos air testing primarily evaluates the respirable fibres around the construction site.
It also tests whether the respiration removal measures are working to their best abilities.
As discussed, asbestos is very harmful to the human body, which is why frequent tests are essential to ensure you don’t live or work in a place that has a significantly higher asbestos fibre rate in the air.
Another reason why asbestos testing is necessary is that the results of the test will inform the planning of the removal process.
'Friable' is used to refer to asbestos-containing materials that can be easily reduced to powder by hand, when dry. These materials are more likely to release measurable levels of asbestos into the airborne environment when disturbed, and generally pose a greater risk to health.
Since it is challenging to identify the concentration of this material, testing is the only way to come up with a removal strategy. Friable asbestos contains materials that have more than 1% asbestos either by area or weight. Experts believe it is best to remove any material that has friable asbestos.
Less of a risk is non-friable asbestos, which is material that contains less than 1% of asbestos. Although they are considered safer than friable variants, it is still wise to perform a test to check the concentration levels.
Generally-speaking non-friable asbestos is asbestos that is more resistant to damage and abrasion, so is less likely to release harmful fibres into the air. Non-friable asbestos cannot be damaged by the human hand and cannot be easily disturbed.
Many companies provide asbestos removal services, but once they take away the materials, it leaves the air polluted with asbestos fibres. So, instead of re-utilizing the space immediately, the area should be tested for asbestos contaminants in the air to avoid health hazards.
Consequences of Not Testing for Asbestos
As already established, asbestos is highly dangerous when it enters the human body.
Since the fibres are invisible to the naked eye, one cannot know the amount of asbestos being inhaled.
If you don’t opt for asbestos air testing, it can lead to severe health hazards.
Asbestos Removal Cost Factors
Ultimately, like any professional service, the amount of work involved will dictate the costs of removal. Therefore, the quantity of asbestos, combined with exactly where it is located and what needs to be done to gain access to the area containing the asbestos, will all need to be factored in.
Whilst the cost of removing asbestos will vary on a case-by-case basis the process undertaken will be more-or-less the same in every situation.
First of all a survey will need to be undertaken to establish whether asbestos is found in a premises, in what quantity it is present and what the risk to human health may be as a result.
Asbestosis; is a chronic respiratory disease that aggravates your lung tissues. If you inhale asbestos daily for long periods, you will often experience shortness of breath. You also hear a crackling sound in your lungs while inhaling. Advanced conditions of asbestosis can cause cardiac arrest.
Lung cancer; is the most obvious and widespread problem connected to asbestos exposure. Those who haver been involved in milling, mining, and manufacturing asbestos are more prone to having lung cancer sooner or later. Shortness of breath, hoarseness, anemia, persistent chest pains, and constant coughing are some of the common symptoms.
Mesothelioma; is a disease closely associated with asbestos inhalation. This is a rare carcinogenic disease that affects the thin lining membrane of your lungs, abdomen, and chest. The chances of survival for people with mesothelioma are historically very slim.
So, it is clear why asbestos in the air is so harmful.
If you notice any of the above symptoms, you should definitely consult a doctor but perhaps more importantly asbestos testing and following the proper safety guidelines can stop asbestos contamination and prevent these serious health issues from arising.
For a complimentary consultation with one of our experienced asbestos surveyors please call 01322 273517 or simply complete the form below and we will call you back.