Asbestos Sampling

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral substance that can be pulled into a fluffy consistency. Asbestos fibers are soft and flexible yet resistant to heat, electricity and chemical corrosion. Pure asbestos is an effective insulator, and it can also be mixed into cloth, paper, cement, plastic and other materials to make them stronger.

- Source: Asbestos.com

Asbestos refers to a set of six naturally occurring fibrous minerals with six primary sub-classifications;

1. Chrysotile 4. Crocidolite
2. Amosite 5. Anthophyllite
3. Tremolite 6. Actinolite

With chrysotile accounting for roughly 95% of the asbestos use, commercially, in the US. Because of its adaptive and fire resistant characteristics, asbestos has been used in a variety of manufactured goods including:

  • Building Materials
    • Roofing
    • Floor Tiles
    • Insulation
    • Cement - Certain Applications
  • Friction Products
  • Heat-Resistant Fabrics
  • Packaging
  • Gaskets
  • Coating

Although this material is highly utilized, it comes with severe health implications and MUST be handled with extreme caution. Improper attempts to remove asbestos-containing materials may release asbestos fibers into the air, increasing asbestos levels and endangering the people living or working in the exposed area. Elevated concentrations of airborne asbestos may also occur when older buildings are demolished or renovated, or when older asbestos-containing materials begin to break down. In any of these situations, asbestos fibers tend to create tiny particles that float in the air and are considered to be occupational health hazards.

Asbestos Sampling Health Hazards

When it comes to asbestos sampling, there are major health risks that come along with handling such high volumes of asbestos particles. Studies, done by OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and other health-related government entities, have shown that asbestos can increase the risk for some types of respiratory illnesses and even cancer.

When asbestos fibers in the air are inhaled, some particular fibers may reach the ends of the small airways in the lungs or penetrate into the outer lining of the lung and chest wall. When this occurs, these fibers may irritate the cells in the lung and eventually cause lung cancer or mesothelioma. Most cases of lung cancer occur 15 or more years after initial exposure to asbestos. For mesothelioma, the time between initial exposure and acute symptoms of mesothelioma don’t occur until 30 years or more.

A more common health risk of asbestos exposure is a lung disease known as asbestosis. Asbestosis, a chronic lung disease, develops after a person breathes high levels of asbestos over time and some of the fibers embed deep into the lungs. In most cases, irritation caused by these fibers eventually lead to lung scarring, and while some people may not have serious symptoms, others may be seriously disabled by breathing and respiratory problems.

Asbestos Sampling Workplace Regulations

In the past, the use of asbestos was widespread and used as cost-efficient insulator, and although now heavily regulated, asbestos is still found in older buildings, homes, and materials.

Because asbestos particles are invisible to the human eye, many regulating authorities require sample tests to be conducted before renovations, demolition or any other type of disturbance is done to a structure.

OSHA Asbestos Standards

  • 29 CFR 1926.1101covers construction work, including alteration, repair, renovation, and demolition of structures containing asbestos.
  • 29 CFR 1915.1001 covers asbestos exposure during work in shipyards.
  • 29 CFR 1910.1001applies to asbestos exposure in general industry, such as exposure during brake and clutch repair, custodial work, and manufacture of asbestos-containing products.

In addition, the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) requires the owner of a building or the operator to notify appropriate state agencies before any demolition, or before any renovations of buildings that could contain a certain threshold amount of asbestos or asbestos-containing material.

Modular Solutions for Asbestos Sampling

Sentry Air Systems offers asbestos-containment, negative pressure units equipped with either ULPA or HEPA filter media. ULPA filters are up to 99.9995% efficient for 0.12 microns and larger, and HEPA filters are up to 99.97% efficient on particles 0.3 microns or larger.

The Model 300 Winged Sentry is a benchtop fume extraction unit offering horizontal airflow up to 350 CFM. The adjustable “wing flaps” assist in directing the asbestos-contaminated air towards the unit’s inlet and into the filter chamber while the operator works between the wings. This system features a custom clear, hinged acrylic lid with microscope lens cutout for even further containment.

The 30-inch Wide Ductless Fume Hood combines powerful air flow with a sturdy and compact enclosure for optimal respiratory protection. Designed to pull harmful asbestos fibers and dust away from the operator’s breathing zone and into the filter chamber, this unit has an inlet velocity of up to 200 FPM.* In addition, the hood features a custom clear, hinged acrylic lid with microscope lens cutout and clear, anti-static vinyl curtains for increased asbestos containment.

*With variable speed control, varies with curtain and filter media.

Contact Sentry Air

For more information on respiratory protection during asbestos sampling, contact Sentry Air Systems at 800.799.4609, or email sales@sentryair.com.