Short Answer: Asbestos air quality testing is critical for you to prevent diseases, such as asbestosis and mesothelioma, that can occur from the harmful effects of asbestos exposure.
How Does Asbestos Get Into The Air?
Asbestos breaks up into tiny fibers, which may even be microscopic and invisible without proper equipment.
If your home is in the United States, you likely have heard about asbestos and the many products that were made from it. You would see asbestos in insulation, roofing, cement and other building materials. It was also included in false ceilings and sound proofing material.
There are many sources of asbestos. The car that you drive may have many parts that contain asbestos containing material (ACM). Asbestos is mined from underneath the earth, in rocks and soil. When damaged, asbestos-containing materials release asbestos into the air in the form of fibers and dust. Thus, you can find asbestos in the air.
What Are The Sources Of Asbestos Fibers And Dust?
Asbestos enters the air from two main sources.
One way that microscopic asbestos fibers become airborne is through the natural weathering of asbestos deposits. The weathering over a long period will release asbestos fibers and dust. The wind can carry this over long distances and enter the air you normally breathe.
The second is the damage to ACMs, such as floor tiles, ceilings, cement pipes, and other daily use products. For instance, if a contractor demolishes a building with ACMs in it, then the asbestos fibers and dust can enter the air. If you stay near the demolition site, then you are at risk of breathing asbestos fibers and dust.
Why Is Asbestos So Harmful To You?
Asbestos in the air is harmful to you and can cause health problems because it contains tiny fibers that embed in your lungs and other parts of your body and damage your body over time. This process can take up to fifty years, known as the latency of asbestos.
Asbestos fibers are microscopic, meaning they’re so small that you cannot see them with the naked eye. They are much smaller than your hair. You can also have asbestos dust in the air. When you breathe in the air containing asbestos fibers and dust, they settle in your lungs. Long exposure to asbestos can lead to adverse health conditions for you.
One health condition asbestos can cause is asbestosis, a disease in which scars appear on lung tissues. Asbestosis is non-cancerous, but can be painful and debilitating, and over time can lead to other problems, including cancer.
Even without asbestosis, asbestos exposure can cause cancers like lung cancer and mesothelioma, an aggressive and dangerous cancer of the lining of organs such as the lungs and the stomach, that has no cure. All types of asbestos can cause cancer.
That is why exposure to asbestos can be so harmful to you, and why it’s a good idea to test yourself for asbestos exposure, and have professionals conduct testing to detect asbestos in your home, work or other buildings or products.
Can You Detect Asbestos In The Air?
Asbestos fibers are very small and you cannot see them with the naked eye. The same is true of asbestos dust. You cannot smell or see asbestos. The only way to detect asbestos is through microscopes. These are either optical microscopes or electron microscopes.
Why Is Asbestos Air Quality Testing So Critical?
It is possible that indoor air contains asbestos without you knowing about it. If you do not test for it in a space that you will occupy for a long time, your risk of exposure is high. According to reports, mesothelioma can occur after 30-40 years of exposure.
You should watch out for any demolition activity near your home. That is when asbestos fibers can get into the air easily.
In fact, for schools, there is a law to test for asbestos before children occupy any building after renovation. You can see the laws governing asbestos here.
Therefore, it is critical that you undertake air quality testing. This will save you from suffering from diseases caused by asbestos exposure.
What Is An Asbestos Air Test?
You saw earlier that you need special microscopes to detect asbestos in the air. Besides, the test takes time to collect samples and send them to the lab for testing. In the lab, it will take a few more days before you get the results.
There are three main methods to detect asbestos in the air.
The first step is to collect air samples from the air you want to test. You can then send the sample to the lab for analysis.
In the lab, technicians will use an optical microscope to count the number of asbestos fibers found in the sample. This method, known as phase contrast microscopy (PCM), has limited use because it cannot tell the difference between asbestos fibers and non-asbestos fibers. However, this method is very fast and you get results quickly.
Again, in the lab, technicians will use electron microscopes to tell the difference between asbestos fibers and non-asbestos fibers. You can use two methods with electron microscopes known as transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and scanning electron microscopy. These two methods take time and are expensive to conduct.
The best and safest way to conduct an asbestos air test is to use a qualified and licensed expert. This expert will help you test the indoor air quality for asbestos following all the regulations under law. EPA implements the Asbestos National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) governing use of asbestos. The government has amended these laws several times.
If you may have been exposed to asbestos, speak with your healthcare provider about tests and screening to help detect the presence of asbestos fibers and asbestos-related damage.
AsbestosClaims.law is your comprehensive resource for all things asbestos. We hope this information helps you.
If you believe that your home was contaminated with asbestos, you could be entitled to significant compensation – money you could use to cover the costs of asbestos removal services, pay for medical treatment, and preemptively protect your physical well-being.
In addition to legal claims, veterans disability, social security and employment protection like workers compensation, FELA and The Jones Act for maritime workers, there are asbestos trusts that have been set up to compensate those harmed by asbestos without having to file a lawsuit.
If you have any additional questions or concerns related to asbestos, including testing for exposure or how to file a claim, please get in touch by email at [email protected], or call or text us at (206) 455-9190.