For homeowners, investing in asbestos air monitoring can give you peace of mind that your family and neighbours are not at risk of the health issues associated with asbestos exposure.
For those in the construction industry, the risk of asbestos exposure via airborne fibres is even higher. It’s been estimated that 1.3 million people working in trades are exposed to asbestos every year.
How is asbestos concentration measured?
Asbestos Air Monitoring is undertaken by a set volume of air being drawn through a thin filter membrane via an electronic air pump over a specific area of time. As the air is drawn through the pump, airborne asbestos particles are collected on the filter. The filter is then prepped and examined under a microscope to identify and determine the presence and exact number of respirable fibres collected.
From this filter, our expert team has the information they need to calculate the fibre concentration in an area.
Measuring airborne asbestos is not something that you can do yourself. Instead, extensive experience and state-of-the-art equipment are necessary to achieve an accurate and reliable reading. That’s why it’s vital to engage with industry professionals.
Here at EnviroX, we carry out asbestos air monitoring to the highest industry standards, so you can rest easy knowing your home or workplace is safe.
How asbestos travels in air
Small diameter fibres and fibre-containing particles that are airborne can be carried long distances via the wind or other means of propellant before they settle. What’s more, once settled, asbestos fibres tend to remain unchanged over extremely long periods of time, meaning they still pose a threat to human health. It’s critical that, when embarking on renovation and construction projects, you invest in quality asbestos air monitoring.
Asbestos particles that are extremely light, as we mentioned above, can travel through the air and remain airborne for some time. This means we are all exposed to low levels of asbestos in the air we breathe on a day-to-day basis. The good news is, ambient or background air contains such a low level of asbestos fibres (10 to 200 fibres in every 1,000 litres of air), that it’s highly unlikely we will become ill from the exposure.
The majority of people who do suffer from asbestos-related diseases have worked on projects that forced them to inhale large quantities of asbestos on a regular basis. Incredibly, before the full extent of asbestos’s dangers became known, construction workers inhaled up to 1 million times the background concentration of asbestos fibres.
What do the results mean?
The data gained from asbestos air monitoring is efficiently turned into critically analysed information, this valuable information can be used to formulate the next step in removing, monitoring or assessing the asbestos hazard present.
The data is displayed as a concentration of fibres per ml and also as a total fibre count, generally a concentration of fibres per ml of less than <0.01 is considered an acceptable amount in the context of an asbestos hazard. A value higher than 0.01 represents an immediate asbestos hazard and can mean a different course of action depending on the individual situations.
If the air monitoring is performed during works, a value of >0.01 will cause all works to cease and the asbestos control plan to be revaluated to determine how to implement more effective controls to reduce the concentration of airborne fibres to an acceptable standard.
Asbestos air monitoring results of <0.01 fibres per ml in the context of post asbestos removal work (clearance monitoring – friable works) will identify that the removal works were completed to an unacceptable standard and that the area is still classified as an immediate asbestos hazard.
Under the results section of an air monitoring document the locations of the air monitors within the premises is listed, this also provides valuable information in relation to the asbestos hazard as it allows greater accuracy in identifying the cause of a high concentration within a specific area, for example a high reading <0.01 near a roof space may indicate the presence of previously unidentified asbestos fibres that may have become airborne again due to agitation from removal works. It is greatly important for this reason to ensure air monitoring is performed precisely to ensure significant coverage of the subject area.
When do I need asbestos air monitoring?
Asbestos air monitoring is recommended to be used in conjunction with all asbestos removal/remediation works, the extent that air monitoring is performed is based on the individual situation.
Large scale external asbestos removal within a densely populated residential area or construction site is an example of a situation where asbestos air monitoring would be vital in ensuring public health and safety, It is also illegal to undertake friable asbestos remediation/removal without the use of air monitoring as this form of asbestos presents a greatly increased health hazard.
All air monitoring must be undertaken in accordance with Safe Work Australia’s Guidance note on the membrane filter method for estimating airborne asbestos fibres.