Asbestos

EHS Laboratories has the capacity to analyze and provide accurate results on approximately a quarter of a million asbestos samples per year.

The asbestos laboratory consists of three categories:

  • Bulk Materials (PLM)
  • Airborne (PCM)
  • Soil, Sediment and Vermiculite

Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM) is a technique used for the analysis of bulk materials. This technique utilizes the polarized light to observe specific optical properties.  Our PLM analyst will distinguish asbestos from non-asbestos fibers and further classify the various species that compose the asbestos mineral family.  Additionally, our analyst records the identity of the non-asbestos fibrous component of each bulk building material sample.

Phase Contrast Microscopy (PCM) is a technique to measure fiber concentrations of air samples. This is most often done at asbestos abatement sites and is sometimes applied during environmental monitoring, personnel monitoring, and clearance testing.

Soil and Sediment  is analyzed at EHS Labs using a qualitative method.  There are additional analysis techniques for soil and sediment.  One is an EPA method called CARB 435 and another is an ASTM method.  Please contact the lab for more information regarding these analysis procedures.

Vermiculite is a naturally occurring mineral used in construction, insulation and gardening products.  Over 70% of vermiculite ore mined worldwide came from a mine near Libby, Montana.  The ore from this mine also included a natural deposit of amphibole/tremolite asbestos.

The EPA currently recommends that you should assume vermiculite insulation is from Libby, Montana and treat the material as asbestos containing.  (See: www2.epa.gov/asbestos)

New York state goes beyond a recommendation and states that “Attic fill, block fill or other loose bulk vermiculite materials must be designated and treated as ACM.”  If the material is thermal systems insulation, surfacing material or other suspect material containing vermiculite they have set up a decision tree for how to analyze and report according.  (See NY State Dept of Health, Memo: July 9, 2013)

Other states including Wisconsin, Vermont and Minnesota may have individual interpretations regarding how to address vermiculite.  Please continue to check our webpage for updates as we gather more information from these states.

We have spent a lot of time at EHS working with our analysts on the analysis of vermiculite.  We are confident that our analysts are proficient at finding amphibole asbestos in vermiculite if it is present.  We are not totally confident however in any analyst’s ability to accurately quantify the asbestos in vermiculite without extensive and expensive methodology.  For that reason our policy is that when we analyze loose fill vermiculite, we will only report it qualitatively.  (Present or absent)  This also means that we will not perform point count analysis on any vermiculite samples.