Asbestos Fibre Air Monitoring | Asbestos Air Testing


Asbestos Fibre Air Monitoring

Asbestos fibre air monitoring is used to detect the level of asbestos fibre within the atmosphere. There are various different applications and situations in which air monitoring should be undertaken.

Typically asbestos fibre air monitoring should be undertaken by a qualified asbestos analyst during asbestos works that have been notified to the HSE.

Undertaking asbestos fibre air monitoring will assess the concentration of airborne asbestos fibre levels that have been generated by the removal/remediation process to ensure that asbestos levels are of a safe limit for a building, or rooms within a building are safe to be occupied.

Asbestos fibre air monitoring may also be carried out for the following reasons:

  • To confirm that an appropriate level of personal protection has been chosen. This can be achieved by undertaking personal sampling on the employees whilst work is being carried out
  • To check the effectiveness of dust suppression methods
  • To provide data for employee exposure records

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A measured volume of air is drawn through a 25mm diameter filter, which is examined under a microscope. The respirable fibres on a measured area of the filter are counted using phase contrast optical microscopy (PCOM), and the concentration of the fibres in the air is calculated.

The full method is described in detail within Appendix 1 of HSG 248. Fibre discrimination is both possible and allowed according to HSG 248, Appendix 1, Para A1.6 which states that “fibres with widths greater than 1 um may show optical properties that are inconsistent with asbestos and it is permissible to eliminate these fibres from the count … Discrimination against non-asbestos fibres should only take place after the initial total count”. As with all analysis, discrimination is dependent on the techniques available.

All air monitoring data and analysis is in-putted into our Online Risk Management System NexGen from site which enables us to not only leave hard copy documents on site, but also email copies to any and all of the interested third parties such as building occupiers, site foremen and facilities managers at the click of a button, prior to leaving site.

Air monitoring by phase contrast optical microscopy (PCOM), commonly to a limit of detection of 0.01 f/cm3,  is inadequate for detecting fibre asbestos concentrations experienced through normal occupation but remains the favoured pragmatic technique for detecting the higher concentrations produced when asbestos is disturbed.

For clients who require greater levels of accuracy and reassurance, we are also able to undertake airborne asbestos fibre determination and fibre counting using SEM (Scanning Electron Microscopy) and EDS (Energy dispersive spectroscopy)

Find out more about SEM

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