Asbestos Testing

Lab Services: Asbestos Testing

ACM Environmental has been offering Vancouver and the lower mainland the highest quality asbestos sample analysis for more than 28 years. Our fast turnaround times, experienced and well-trained staff, are able to provide cost effective, accurate, and reliable services.

Asbestos is a very dangerous carcinogen and that is why any analysis needs to be handled accurately, and safely. Prolonged inhalation of the material can lead to a variety of diseases (including lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis). It is especially important to rid an area of asbestos if there are children present as they are even more susceptible to the dangers of long term inhalation. If an uncontrolled disturbance occurs, the asbestos fibres can remain airborne for up to 72 hours (3 days).

Any sampling is recommended to be conducted by qualified personnel. For projects involving contractors and the public, qualified personnel are required by WorkSafeBC to conduct the sampling and analysis in order to be compliant.

ACM Environmental provides consistently accurate and high quality analysis. All of ACM’s laboratory personnel have been trained by the world renowned McCrone Institute in Chicago. Our lab participates in the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) quality control program for asbestos bulk sample analysis and the Canadian Association for Laboratory Accreditation (CALA) quality control program for asbestos air analysis. ACM’s participation in these programs along with in-house quality control measures exceed all requirements of the Workers’ Compensation Board of British Columbia, and are comparable to NVLAP administrated by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). A.C.M.’s laboratory applies the current NIOSH methods for air monitoring and asbestos bulk sample analysis (7400 & 9002).

At ACM Environmental, our certified laboratory technicians analyze more than 5000 asbestos bulk samples each year in our independent testing facility. ACM Environmental uses Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM) to examine the quality of polarized light in order to properly identify any fibres present in the sample.

Asbestos analysis is normally categorized into one of two types:

  • Bulk Asbestos Samples: these samples are composed of a solid substance, usually building material such as drywall mud, floor tile or linoleum, ceiling texture (popcorn ceiling) and many other solid materials. Because of the hazards of asbestos, it is important to follow sample collection and transportation safety protocols while collecting and transporting any samples.

    For sampling guidelines please read our sampling instructions and information. When submitting bulk samples for analysis, a chain of custody form is required to accompany your sample in order to document details about the sample.

    ACM also offers Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM). Using magnifications routinely at 20,000X or greater and employing powerful chemical (EDXA) and mineralogical (SAEDP) tools, the TEM can differentiate not only asbestos from non-asbestos fibres, but also can classify the several species of different asbestos minerals. However, the sample preparation and analysis process requires much longer than PLM or PCM and the equipment involved is extremely expensive.  For this reason, TEM costs substantially more.

  • Airborne Asbestos Samples: Monitoring the air for asbestos in and around work areas during asbestos abatement activities and clearance asbestos testing after removal completed is a critical step in ensuring your worker and occupant safety. During an asbestos abatement project, Asbestos Air Monitoring is a requirement by WorkSafeBC to show your compliance with limits set by WorkSafeBC, NIOSH, and other regulatory agencies. Using both stationary and portable apparatus to collect samples, we then use Phase Contrast Microscopy (PCM) to identify the amount of particles in a given quantity of air. PCM is quick and cost effective but does not distinguish between types of fibre and so further analysis is often required.