Asbestos Testing

If your inspection finds elements of asbestos, our testing services can determine the percentage of asbestos in the material and the type of fiber present. Testing is done by accredited labs to ensure accuracy. Prolonged exposure to asbestos causes an abundance of health issues that may not surface for as long as 20 years. If asbestos is found in your home, testing will determine the proper cause of action to the problem.


Asbestos in the home or office

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Asbestos can be found in many materials used for construction and machining. However, it can even be found in car parts, clothing, and lawn furniture. Asbestos fiber usage dates back to 4500 BC in Finland where inhabitants used the fibers to create durable pottery. Asbestos was present throughout ancient European civilizations but gained worldwide use during the industrial era of the late 1800s. By the 1970s, asbestos was used in thousands of products, including some right in the home. Some of the more common locations included:


  • Insulation
  • Textiles
  • Siding
  • Floor and ceiling tiles
  • Pipe and wall fixtures


Asbestos was heavily used in construction projects because of its heat and electricity resistance, durability, and cost-effectiveness to produce. Unfortunately, that profitability has gone flying out the window as asbestos is often tricky to remove. The process is a slow one, with lots of surveying and testing to make sure technicians know what they’re dealing with.


Testing in Calgary

Asbestos testing can be time-consuming so a few preliminary steps must be done before a technician can begin his work.


  • Remove all air conditioners, fans, or anything that could blow asbestos fibers into the air
  • Close all windows and prepare your home for the testing team
  • Prepare to move to a far away room or leave the house entirely while the test is being administered


Testing processes

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Testing is done in one of two ways: material testing and air testing. Asbestos fibers are thinner than the hair on your head and impossible to detect without proper equipment. Asbestos has no distinct odor, and the particles are too small to be seen with the naked eye. There’s no way to tell if fibers have been inhaled until it’s too late.


Your asbestos inspector will determine if material or air testing is needed. Often, asbestos isn’t hazardous if it’s away from heavily used areas and isn’t broken or frayed. Asbestos fibers are only dangerous if directly contacted by people, so out of the way spaces with asbestos material may not need any work done. However, if the asbestos presents a problem, testing will be done to figure out the proper course of action.


Your technician will likely cover walls and floors with a plastic coating to prevent asbestos fibers from traveling throughout the building. Sometimes, a binding agent (i.e., something wet) is sprayed to keep asbestos fibers in place.


Air testing

air testing

Testing the local air for asbestos is the most common and cost-effective method, but its testing for all types of fibers in the air, just not asbestos. The primary air test is done using photon contrast microscopy (PCM) and looks for the quantity of different fibers floating in the air. Fiberglass, gypsum, and other organic and inorganic fibers can be found using this test. While this analysis is quick and cost-efficient, it does not identify asbestos fibers specifically.  To do that, a stronger microscope is required.


A more detailed test can be done using transmission electron microscopy (TEM). This test is strong enough to determine asbestos fibers from other material present in the sample. While longer and more expensive, using TEM for air samples is the best way to learn if asbestos fibers are in the air. TEM testing is so exact it can even determine which of the different asbestos fibers is present.


Air testing is often done as a preliminary to asbestos removal and after the removal process has been completed to make sure the air quality is safe.


Material testing


Material testing comes in several different forms depending on the type of substance being tested. Since so many various products could contain asbestos, methods for sampling are dependent on the material. Some different types of elements to be tested could include:


  • Soil samples – these samples are used in environmental investigations. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral and asbestos deposits in nature can because hazardous after weather events or natural disasters.


  • Building materials – using a magnifying technique called polar light microscopy (PLM), researchers can determine the percentage of asbestos fiber in a particular building structure. The sample is smashed into dust, and the polarized light helps identify asbestos fibers from non-asbestos fibers.


  • Water samples – this test is mostly done by municipal governments during renovation or replacement of pipes and underground water channels.


After samples have been acquired, they are sent to an accredited lab for testing. Depending on the type of test performance, results could be seen in hours or weeks. Certified labs and technicians are more likely show quick and accurate results.

Asbestos is a danger to anyone living or working in a house or building that might be contaminated. Asbestos fibers are microscopic and can easily be inhaled into the lungs without notice. Our experts will solve your asbestos issues whether they occur in a single family home or large industrial complex. Contact us today and give your family peace of mind with our asbestos inspection, testing, and removal services.