What should you know about asbestos?

Asbestos is an element occurring naturally like all other materials on earth. However, this element has several unique features compared to other materials. Asbestos is heat-resistant, and also resistant to chemical and electrical reactions. So, there are several applications for this element if we look at its properties. However, it has another property of releasing fibers when disturbed at the molecular level. Once you destroy a substance that has asbestos, these fibers will come out and mix with the air. So, you will end up inhaling this contaminated air. It causes several infections in your body. For these reasons, the governments of most countries decided to restrict its use for several purposes. However, several buildings in the present world still contain some asbestos particles in them. So, some regulations require the building owners to conduct asbestos testing to get to know the amounts of that element in it before they do any renovation works. Else, the owner will be fined. He can choose any asbestos consultant to do the job for him.

Risks of asbestos exposure

If you are exposed to asbestos-contaminated air for a long time, you will get several diseases that affect your lungs. However, you could not diagnose these diseases when you are affected. Symptoms will come up only after several years. Some of these diseases are as follows,

  • Lung cancer
  • Mesothelioma – a rare type of cancer affecting the chest lining that connects the lungs and abdomen.
  • Asbestosis – a lung cancer that will rupture your lungs and make it difficult to breathe.

Testing methods for asbestos concentration

Based on the type of building materials, the technique used to test the number of asbestos fibers will vary. Two such techniques are as follows.

Airborne asbestos

If you are about to test for airborne asbestos in your building, you can go for Phase Contrast Microscopy (PCM). This technique uses microscopic instruments that will let you know the concentration of airborne fibers in the building materials as a whole. However, you could not find out whether the fibers are of asbestos or other materials. This is the only disadvantage to this technique. However, you can have a general idea if the number of fibers is more. This testing method is the most affordable, and you can get the results in a short span. Transmission Electron Microscopy will help you distinguish asbestos fibers in this mixture if necessary.

Bulk building materials

Bulk building materials could be tested for asbestos concentration with the help of Polarized Light Microscopy. As the name suggests, the technique uses polarized light to categorize the fibers present in the building materials. When a polarized light beam is fallen on a fiber particle, it will show a different optical response from that falling on another fiber. Likewise, it will differentiate asbestos fibers from other fibers. So, you can calculate the number of asbestos fibers present in these bulk building materials. It is an economical technique when you are testing a greater number of samples.