Asbestos is a name used to identify a group of natural occurring minerals classified by State and Federal agencies as carcinogenic. These minerals are derived from two groups known as Serpentine and Amphibole rocks. Serpentine asbestos has thread-like fibers. Amphibole asbestos has needle-like fibers. There are a total of six minerals derived from these two groups that are classified as “Asbestos.” The names of these minerals (beginning with the most common) are: Chrysotile, Amosite, Crocidolite, Tremolite, Actinolite and Anthophyllite.
The most common type of asbestos in North America is the Serpentine Chrysotile Asbestos. 95% of the building materials that contain asbestos is found to be Serpentine Chrysotile. In other words, 95% of asbestos containing material contain thread like fibers, while only 5% of asbestos containing material contain needle like fibers.
To understand the hazard of asbestos fibers, let us compare it to wood. An organic wood splinted, if not removed, will eventually breakdown inside somebody’s body. In contrast, a fiber made of stone would remain forever. Because of the nature of asbestos rock form, the stone will split much like string cheese does. This splitting can continue until fibers are too small to see even under a microscope. Asbestos rock will breakdown so small, it can flow through the blood stream and still remain a fiber not changing its form. Asbestos is a Greek word meaning “inextinguishable” or “indestructible”. We would not be able to go and return from the moon without this mineral. There is nothing on the planet that we can find that would be able to withstand the heat generated when re-entering the atmosphere and remain intact.
Asbestos has been mined and used throughout the world because these properties have been used to strengthen and fireproof manufacturing materials. However, the dust generated from demolition of building materials containing asbestos create a hazard of airborne asbestos fibers that can be inhaled. Once the asbestos fiber is lodged inside the lung, it will remain in the lung. The body begins to create scar tissue which leads to shortness of breath. This damage develops into an illness called “Asbestosis” and can go unnoticed for many years, generally 10 to 40 years before symptoms of illness occur. Asbestosis is the most common asbestos related illness. Asbestosis is not a cancer but is a scaring of the lung. A rare illness linked to asbestos is Mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is fatal, death occurs 6 months to 1 year after diagnosis.
It is important to know that building materials that contain asbestos fibers do not constitute a hazard unless the fiber is airborne. For example, a person standing in a room with sprayed-on acoustical ceiling texture, cannot breathe in the ceiling material unless the ceiling is disturbed. The material containing asbestos must be disturbed and become airborne before it becomes hazardous.
It is the goal of Adam Labs, Inc. to ameliorate the risk of inhaling Asbestos dust by identifying asbestos, and monitoring air quality for hazardous fibers. We do so by:
Identifying asbestos in building materials from collected samples of suspect material and processed via Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM).
Monitoring air quality for possible exposure of asbestos. Air monitors are set up in areas of concern to collect air samples. Samples are processed via phase-contrast microscopy (PCM) or transmission electron microscopy (TEM).
The health and safety of our clients is a priority to us so Adam Labs can provide aid in developing a health and safety plan for asbestos abatement. Adam Labs can provide on-site monitoring of projects to implement safe work practice, monitor exposure, and project compliance to conform with asbestos regulations. Adam Labs consultants are certified by the State of California Division of Occupation Safety and Health (DOSH) and is a participant in the Proficiency Analytical Testing (PAT) program by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA).