Understanding Asbestos Testing in Northland
Once upon a time, asbestos was a favoured building material thanks to its flame resistance and versatility, and it became a popular choice in a wide range of construction and industrial applications.
However, we eventually discovered that exposure to asbestos fibres can lead to severe health issues. As a result, asbestos testing Northland-wide and beyond has become an essential practice. Identifying where asbestos is hiding in residential and commercial buildings is crucial for the health and well-being of families and employees.
In this blog post, we’re reviewing asbestos testing from top to tail. Learn about why this substance is dangerous, why it’s important to test, and how the team at Consultex Labs takes care of testing.
What is Asbestos, and Why is it Dangerous?
Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring minerals that take on an almost fibrous structure. Since these minerals are exceptionally resistant to heat, fire, and chemicals, asbestos quickly became a desirable construction material. Some of the most common places you’ll find asbestos include old fire-resistant construction materials, insulation, and even roofing materials.
Asbestos is now well-known as a material that poses a grave risk to the inhabitants of buildings that contain even a small amount. Why? Because the tiny, invisible fibres released when asbestos is disturbed can become trapped in the lungs. Over time, these fibres cause various health issues that can vary in severity.
Just a few of the health risks posed by asbestos exposure include:
- Asbestosis: A chronic lung disease caused by scarred lungs from inhaled asbestos fibres. Causes long-term lung dysfunction, respiratory distress, and even death in severe cases.
- Lung cancer: Cases of lung cancer increase sharply when mapped against asbestos exposure, usually many years after the initial exposure. Mesothelioma is a particularly aggressive form of cancer that affects the whole body and is linked exclusively to asbestos exposure.
- Plural effusion: A condition where fluid gathers between the lining of the lungs and chest, creating long-term coughing, chest pain, and shortness of breath.
While no particular health effects are guaranteed with asbestos exposure, asbestos-related illnesses are likely related to the duration and dosage of the exposure.
The Importance of Asbestos Testing in Northland
New Zealand adopted asbestos just as much as the rest of the world, importing tonnes and tonnes of asbestos between the 1960s and the early 1980s. Although other materials gradually replaced it as the health risks became known, this still allowed plenty of time for this dangerous material to make its way into buildings all across the country, Northland included.
These days, it’s standard to test for asbestos due to the various long-term health risks associated with exposure. Reasons for testing include health protection, regulatory compliance, and renovation or demolition planning.
Asbestos Testing Methods
There are three core methods for asbestos testing, all of which we offer at Consultex Labs:
- Visual Inspection: Exactly what it sounds like. This is a preliminary assessment method where we visually inspect building materials to find any possible asbestos-containing materials (ACMs).
- Bulk Sampling: Samples of possible ACMs are collected and sent to our laboratory to be analysed.
- Air Monitoring: If active renovation or demolition work is going on, air samples can be collected to determine if asbestos is present in the air. If it is found, work is stopped, and the material is identified and removed.
If asbestos is identified on your Northland site, what can you expect from your next steps?
What Happens After Asbestos Testing?
We work with our clients to create plans for asbestos management following a positive test. There are several options for safely taking care of asbestos, including:
- Asbestos Removal: Often best if the material is in poor condition or likely to be disturbed, as this can create a harmful situation for the building’s inhabitants.
- Asbestos Encapsulation: To prevent the release of fibres, asbestos is sometimes encapsulated in a special kind of paint or sealant.
- Asbestos Management: In cases where the material is in good condition, or there is very little risk, teams can implement asbestos management plans to monitor and control the substance without necessarily needing to remove it.
As you can see, it’s essential to connect with asbestos testing in Northland if you have the slightest inkling that there might be some on your property. The long-term health risks are too great to leave possible ACMs unchecked, and the process is simple when you have the right team on hand.
It’s always best to make a decision on which approach to take after you’re absolutely sure about the type, amount, and prevalence of asbestos you might be dealing with. That’s where working with a qualified asbestos testing laboratory comes in.
At Consultex Labs, we conduct environmental assessments and make recommendations based on any asbestos present on-site. Whether you’re beginning a renovation or conducting a health inspection, our team is here to help.
Easily confirm the presence of asbestos with Consultex Labs.
Get in touch with the Consultex Labs team today to discuss asbestos testing on your site.