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Asbestos Testing

EMSLs asbestos laboratory services utilize various methodology and instrumentation including Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM), Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM), Phase Contrast Microscopy (PCM), Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and X-Ray Diffraction (XRD).


The term Asbestos refers to six regulated, naturally occurring fibrous silicate minerals:ChrysotileAmositeCrocidoliteAnthophylliteTremoliteActinolite.


Of the six, Chrysotile, Amosite and Crocidolite are the most commonly used.


Asbestos was used even by the ancient Greeks and Romans. In fact the word “asbestos” is derived from the Greek, meaning “inextinguishable”. When processed (milled), asbestos separates into very thin fibers. These fibers are stronger than steel, making it attractive for a wide range of applications. When disturbed, asbestos has the potential to release fibers into the air. These fibers, so small that they are typically invisible to the naked eye, can remain airborne for extended periods. When inhaled they pose serious health issues including:

Asbestosis – A disease characterized by pulmonary fibrosis. This is a progressive scarring of the lung tissue. It is associated exclusively with chronic occupational exposure to asbestos.  Symptoms are shortness of breath, cough, and fatigue.


Lung Cancer – A malignant tumor of the covering of the bronchi. Early symptom is a persistent cough such as in bronchitis. Chest X-Rays sometimes show shadows that indicate tumors. The definitive test is a biopsy with microscopic analysis. The latency

period is typically 20-30 years.


Mesothelioma – Cancer of the lining of the chest or abdominal wall. Few symptoms early on. By the time it is diagnosed it is almost always fatal. As with lung cancer the latency period is extended (typically 30-40 years).


Common Uses:

From 1935 to the mid 1970’s asbestos was applied extensively to buildings. Chrysotile and Amosite, both separately and in blends were the predominant asbestos types used.

Under the clean air act of 1970, the EPA began regulating asbestos containing materials (ACM) which they defined as >1% asbestos. Although its current use in the U.S. is minimal, there is still a strong international market and imported products may therefore

contain asbestos.

  • Spray On Insulation
  • Flooring Felt (up to 85% asbestos)
  • Roofing Felt (up to 85% asbestos)
  • Corrugated sheets for Pipe Wrap (up to 85% asbestos)
  • Millboard and Roll Board (up to 95% asbestos)
  • Cooling Tower fill
  • Auto Brakes, Mufflers and Transmission disks (up to 80% asbestos)
  • Filters in beverage making
  • Insulation on wires and appliances
  • Asbestos Cement pipes (up to 20% asbestos)
  • Floor Tile (up to 30% asbestos)
  • Sealants, Adhesives, Mastics and Paints (up to 30% asbestos)
  • Packings and Gaskets (up to 90% asbestos)
  • Textiles (curtains, mattresses, gloves, hats)
  • Road surfacing and pavement
  • Shotgun shell base wads

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