Asbestos air monitoring protection


Air monitoring is an important part of safety assurance when handling asbestos. Asbestos is only dangerous when it’s disturbed or damaged. That’s why many asbestos management plans simply require monitoring asbestos containing materials (ACMs) in place unless construction or renovation work requires removal. If asbestos is disturbed, however, that’s when it poses a risk, as it can release microscopic fibres into the air. These fibres can be breathed in and may lodge in the lungs or lung lining, leading to various lung diseases, including cancer. 

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Can You Test Asbestos In The Air?

Given the dangers of airborne asbestos particles, it makes sense to monitor the air before, during and after the handling of asbestos. Tests can detect the presence of respirable/ asbestos fibres in the air as well as changes in levels caused by disturbance of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs).

Such tests are invaluable for risk mitigation during work on ACMs. They also form part of a necessary safety assessment on completion of any work to ensure that the level of airborne asbestos fibres is within safe limits. These tests may be commissioned by homeowners, property managers, contractors, or insurance companies.

What Types Of Air Monitoring Are Conducted?

Asbestos air monitoring involves extracting air from an environment for a set period onto a filter to collect airborne particles. Several types of monitoring are possible. The main tests are:

– Background monitoring. This is conducted prior to work on ACMs to determine ambient levels against which leaks can be detected.

– Leak monitoring. These detect elevated fibre readings and are vital as an early warning of weaknesses in safety measures during work.

– Reassurance monitoring. These tests are used to confirm safety following work on ACMs or prior elevated levels of asbestos fibre in the air.

Other types of monitoring include near source static sampling, far source or perimeter sampling, compliance monitoring, suitability monitoring and specific short-duration monitoring. All air monitoring work must conform to HSG248 (Analysts Guide).

How Is Asbestos Work Cleared?

Following asbestos handling or removal, air testing forms part of the required procedure to affirm safe completion. Asbestos analysts must have relevant qualifications and experience to perform these tests. The laboratory providing analytical monitoring and clearance testing services must be UKAS accredited to ISO 17025

Licensed asbestos abatement works require a four-stage clearance process:

1. Preliminary checks. Analysts conduct an overview of the site and a documentation audit, checking the project scope and the completion of planned work.

2. Full visual inspection. A detailed inspection is carried out to ensure all asbestos has been removed, including any remaining dust or debris.

3. Air testing. Analysts will sample the air while brushing the enclosure to detect any unseen fibres. The enclosure can be signed off with results less than 0.010 f/ml.

4. Final assessment. This post-enclosure test ensures that all parts have been removed and that waste and transit routes are uncontaminated.

The Importance Of Accredited Air Monitoring Consultants – UKAS

For the safety of all parties involved in work on premises containing ACMs, it is recommended to use UKAS accredited asbestos air monitoring companies such as OMC Consultants. 

All analysts must ensure impartiality and independence for site clearance and certification. It is a requirement for accreditation. OMC is independent from removal contractors, with no shared directorships or common management. This supports the impartiality and integrity of our analytical consultancy.

It is strongly recommended that analysts are appointed independently by the building owner or occupier. Not the asbestos removal contractor. This helps to prevent conflicts of interest on site whether perceived or real.

OMC can conduct the full range of air monitoring services and on-site analysis, helping to speed the process and ensure that all regulations are met.

For advice and assistance with reducing asbestos in your building, please contact OMC Consultants today to find out how we can help.

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