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Safety Measures When Doing Asbestos Checking and Sampling

November 15, 2018

Asbestos is a known respiration debilitating material. It’s abrasive, capable of scarring healthy lungs, and there’s even evidence that the silicate substance possesses carcinogenic properties. That means exposure to asbestos can cause cancer. Once used to insulate and fireproof buildings, an entire industry has grown up around asbestos removal procedures. Keeping such material hazards in mind, let’s talk about safety measures, about those that are conducted during sampling assignments.

Addressing Sampling Obligations

Asbestos is recognized as a fibrous material, a silicate-based substance that can become airborne. However, the fibrous compound doesn’t always come into view when a ceiling is pulled apart or a wall is split asunder. Even if that were the case, we don’t want excavators and workers tearing into this biologically inimical stuff, not when millions of those resting fibres will be released by their actions. Dispatched before the demolition phase begins, a material sampling team checks the walls and ceiling voids for products that aren’t purely made of asbestos but which may nonetheless contain hazardous quantities of the inhalable fibres.

Identifying the Sampling Candidates 

Concrete panels were often reinforced with asbestos. The silicate mineral enhanced wall strength, and it also made the building materials partially fire resistant. Insulating concrete, roofing felt, and other hard-to-identify construction materials, these building assets don’t look at all like the pillowy, fibre-heavy sheets of asbestos we find behind walls, but they do contain hidden quantities of the mineral all the same. To carry out the sampling work, trained team members call in a series of health-protecting safety measures. To take any other approach would be to invite catastrophe, to solicit dangers that could cause permanent respiratory damage.

Incorporating Asbestos-Sampling Safety Measures 

Full-face breathing apparatus is mandated, and the filtration media in the breathing equipment must be rated so that it’ll fully block those lung-scarring microscopic fibres. There are, of course, disposable half-face options and lesser personal protection equipment solutions available, but something as mundane as a beard could corrupt such a marginal face sealing product. To assure safe breathing, and to provide eye protection, full-face respirators are recommended. Gloves, plastic booties, and hooded protective clothing complete the personal safety package.

Lastly, area safety measures and procedural steps take charge of the checking and sampling operation. The heating and ventilation system, if one is present, needs to be turned OFF. Plastic sheeting goes on the floor, a fast-erecting containment enclosure goes up around the sampling area, and Ziploc baggies are arranged. Using a sharp cutting blade or an asbestos-specific toolkit, samples are taken from various building surfaces, dropped into the plastic bags, and labelled. Job done, the checking and sampling phase concludes with a courier-dispatched lab test.


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