Asbestos air monitoring is the detection of inhalable asbestos fibers in the air to help assess the degree of exposure and the effectiveness of control measures. This is usually done when asbestos-containing products are in poor condition, asbestos fibers can be released into the air, or asbestos-containing materials must be disposed of.
For the purpose of monitoring asbestos in air, only inhalable asbestos fibers are considered hazardous. All fibers that conform to certain geometric shapes observed under a phase contrast microscope are assumed to be asbestos. It may be necessary to use transmission electron microscopy (TEM) test equipment to perform further asbestos air monitoring tests to confirm the chemical composition.
When Should Asbestos Air Monitoring Be Carried Out?
The National Occupational Safety and Health Commission recommends that asbestos air monitoring be performed whenever handling or removing asbestos containing materials. Airborne asbestos fibers are produced by the breakdown of asbestos-containing materials.
Asbestos air monitoring can also aid in quantitative risk analysis. When asbestos material is brittle, it can be crushed into dust or small particles, which is a great risk. Monitoring can help you gain insight on exactly how much risk you are exposed to.
Different types of airborne asbestos monitoring and testing include: background asbestos air monitoring, asbestos exposure air monitoring, control air monitoring;
Background asbestos air monitoring includes testing for inhalable airborne fibers before work, which can interfere with your health. You can do this to also determine if there may be other fibers in the air.
Asbestos Air Exposure Monitor the air in the tester’s breathing area to determine if a person may be exposed to inhalable asbestos fibers. Exposure monitoring and testing is designed to reliably estimate human exposure so that it can be compared to national exposure standards.
Asbestos control air monitoring involves testing the air to measure the level of asbestos fibers in the air that is breathed in work areas that contain asbestos. Control monitoring aims to test the effectiveness of control measures when working with or removing asbestos-containing materials.
Who is Responsible for Organizing the Air Monitoring?
Businesses or business personnel engaged in asbestos abatement work in workplaces that require Class A asbestos abatement permits should ensure that an independent licensed asbestos assessor conducts air monitoring in the area of asbestos removal.
If the workplace is a family residence, licensed asbestos removal personnel who perform asbestos removal work at that location and need to obtain a Class A asbestos removal permit. If an asbestos-related business or business is unsure whether it can exceed the asbestos exposure standard, it should ensure that an air check is performed.
Who can Perform Air Monitoring?
If you decide to conduct air monitoring during non-brittle asbestos removal, or asbestos-related work, you should hire qualified personnel. The person must have experience and knowledge in the asbestos removal industry, and the ability to operate monitoring equipment, such as a sampling pump that can implement the most appropriate sampling strategy. The personnel should place the sampling pump in the correct location for proper storage prior to analysis. If there is no personal contact with experienced occupational hygienists or scientists to obtain basic training in the techniques involved, the analysis should not be carried out.
How About a Preliminary Air Check?
If you suspect that the level of fiber in the area where the asbestos work will take place is increasing, you may choose to collect five preliminary air samples to establish alternative indoor air standards. Before any other asbestos-related work, including area prep work, these preliminary air samples should be collected. Samples must be taken within ten feet of the work area.
This is all about asbestos air monitoring and how it should be carried out. Just keep in mind that you should always be careful with handling asbestos and seek professional assistance at all costs for any work related to asbestos at your home or workplace.