The most common form of asbestos is asbestos fibres. The fibres produced by asbestos are often used in construction, insulation, and other industries, and they are proven carcinogens. Asbestos poisoning was a common cause of occupational diseases and death.
Workers have been exposed to asbestos at worksites in Sydney for over 30 years. They now have to deal with various health problems, such as cancer, respiratory diseases and heart diseases. Any home built before 2004 may contain asbestos and must undergo asbestos testing in Sydney.
The Australian Government came up with a set of approved regulations in 2003 to ensure that the companies utilising asbestos can employ asbestos safety devices on their products and conduct further testing to protect the public.
Thus, it is a legal mandate to conduct asbestos safety testing in Australia.
Airborne Asbestos Testing
After the demolition asbestos survey, asbestos air testing is conducted to certify whether the area is fit for reoccupation. This testing is performed with phase-contrast microscopy. It assesses the fibre concentrations in the air. It is undertaken regularly, especially under environmental and personnel monitoring.
Australia is the first country to conduct a demolition asbestos survey. It is the first country to achieve such a high level of technology in the asbestos industry. The demolition asbestos survey has been conducted over the past twenty years. It is undertaken when a building demolition is planned.
Demolition is a method of removing asbestos-containing buildings from the land. It is typically done using explosives and is a lengthy, costly, and highly destructive process. Demolition surveys are conducted to estimate the amount of asbestos in a building. A site layout and building plan are required before completing this survey.
Bulk Building Materials Testing
Asbestos testing is conducted for bulk building materials. These materials are collected from the building site and transported to the laboratory. The materials are tested using chemical and physical methods. This testing assesses the health of the buildings.
Polarised Light Microscopy (PLM) is the standard technique used to analyse asbestos. However, there are other methods like XRD, SEM and TEM. The polarised light examines the optical properties of minerals and finds the presence of asbestos. It can also detect different asbestos mineral families.
Soil and Sediments
A typical test case of asbestos testing can reveal asbestos dust within the ventilation system. This case is covered in a protective wrap that is not permeable to asbestos but is permeable to dust. It determines the asbestos content of the site and whether the building is asbestos-free.
The most common method for testing asbestos in soil is by using a specialised instrument called a sonar. This instrument is equipped with a precisely dipped probe into the tested soil. The device is then used to detect the presence of asbestos in the soil samples.
Another way to check the sample is to mix it with the asbestos and a small amount of gaseous hydrochloric acid. The model is then analysed for asbestos fibres’ presence by using spectrophotometry. The test is conducted on a sample of soil treated with hydrochloric acid and a water solution of a small amount of sodium hydroxide.
The moisture content of the soil is a proxy for the amount of asbestos dust present. The moisture content of the earth is a function of soil temperature, soil type, and the amount of moisture available to the soil. Therefore, the moisture content of the ground is a good surrogate for the amount of asbestos dust present in the sample.
Undoubtedly, asbestos testing is essential to recognise the possibility of asbestos exposure and to protect the public. Research has defined the optimal approach to asbestos testing in Sydney to detect asbestos exposure. Recent reviews of clinical and epidemiological studies have indicated that the risk of asbestos-induced cancers is reduced by 50- to 100-fold if a high asbestosis screening is performed.