Examples of Materials Under Polarized Light Microscopy
Drywall with Joint Compound on the left, with a blue chrysotile asbestos fibre under the microscope. This sample was found to contain 1% chrysotile.
Sheet Vinyl Flooring on the left, the blue and orange fibres on the right are chrysotile fibres in the backing. The backing of this sample was found to contain 70% chrysotile asbestos fibres. When asbestos containing sheet vinyl flooring is peeled up, these fibres are easily released into the air.
Vinyl Floor Tile on the left, with a large chrysotile fibre on the right. Chrysotile is a serpentine asbestos fibre, as you can see from its “wavy” structure. Asbestos can be found in both 9”x9” and larger floor tiles, so size alone is not a proper measure.
Tremolite fibres found in a vermiculite sample. When mined, vermiculite was often cross contaminated with the amphibole asbestos fibres seen here.
Amosite fibres (pictured above) are also part of the amphibole class of asbestos, meaning the fibres are straight and shaped like needles.
Asbestos containing materials were frequently used in construction materials up to the late 1980’s. WorkSafeBC considers any material older than 1990 to be considered suspect, and certain disposal companies may have stricter guidelines. Asbestos fibres were usually mixed in during the manufacture or installation of materials, and are very rarely identifiable to the naked eye. Identification of the type and percentage of asbestos fibres require proper sample preparation and analysis to develop precise results.
Our labs perform asbestos testing and analysis using the U.S. National Institute of Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) method 9002. Small batches of samples (less than five), usually have results back within 24 hours without a rush charge. Larger batches are also accepted, but next day turnaround may not always be possible for large batches.
We encourage clients to book an Island EHS technologist to come collect samples from the location or job site, as our technologists are trained in the correct procedures, follow WorkSafeBC guidelines for sample numbers and sampling methodology, and also have the proper tools and personal protective equipment (PPE). Otherwise, samples can also be dropped off at one of our office locations, but if you are dropping off samples, please follow our guidelines for samples:
- Samples of most types of materials should be about 2” x 2” and delivered in separate, sealed Ziploc – style bags.
- Drywall samples should include the joint or filler compounds (found at a seam or a corner). If texture is present, please ensure it is included as a unique sample.
- For textured ceilings, including knock-down texture or “popcorn” style spray on coatings, ensure you have collected at least a teaspoon’s (or 5ml) worth of material for testing.
- Vermiculite samples should fill a large Ziploc freezer bag and be a composite of materials from the area. (It is usually suggested that samples should be taken from the four farthest corners of the area to fill the bag, in order to provide a proper composite sample). Vermiculite samples can also offer false negatives if the material is not sampled to the bottom layer, as the asbestos fibres can settle over time.
Any samples that are too large to fit safely within our fume hood or are not delivered in sealed bags may be rejected due to the health risk to our employees. All samples are presumed positive until proven otherwise.
A Chain of Custody form will need to be filled out with information about the sample(s) to be tested, so please be prepared to provide the address and room from which the sample(s) were taken. If you would like to fill out the chain of custody before arriving, please feel free to download it from the link below:Download Chain of Custody Form
We Provide Asbestos Testing on
- Drywall joint compound
- Wall and ceiling textures (“popcorn” style ceiling texture, troweled, and knockdown textures)
- Sheet vinyl flooring and vinyl floor tiles
- Ceiling tiles
- HVAC duct tape, fibreboard, millboard, and mastics
- Pipe wrap and lagging
- Cement board (or “transite” boards) and pipes
- Surfacing insulation and spray-on coatings
- Boiler gaskets and parging
- Mortar and grout
- Roofing products
- Vermiculite insulation
- And much more
Asbestos Air Sampling
Using NIOSH method 7400, our technicians perform daily air monitoring as per WorkSafeBC Regulations, as well as passive and aggressive air clearances for post abatement testing. WorkSafeBC requires that all air sample results be available for posting on site within 24 hours of collection, and our technicians ensure these results are available so your job site stays compliant. More complex analyses, including Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM), are handled by accredited external laboratories. To ensure accuracy, Island EHS has a rigorous internal quality assurance program, and participates in the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) Proficiency Aptitude Program for both bulk and air analysis.Lead Testing
Island EHS can help test for lead in paint, soil, air and water, using qualified site technicians and accredited partner laboratories. Results are usually available within 3 days of submission, though quicker turnaround times are available.
WorkSafeBC regulations require that airborne lead samples be collected at the start of projects involving the disturbance of lead-based materials and thereafter as necessary. Lead in air samples are collected and analyzed in accordance with NIOSH Method 7082.
Vancouver Island Landfills, including Hartland Landfill and the Nanaimo Regional Landfill, as well as local waste collectors, require that leachate testing, also known as a toxicity characteristic leaching procedure or TCLP test, be carried out on waste building materials in accordance with current Ministry of Environment requirements (B.C. Reg. 63/88). As waste containing leachable lead paint can contaminate the soil of the landfill, special disposal is required. Samples are submitted to accredited external laboratories for analysis.