Asbestos applies to several types of fibrous minerals. It consists of two mineral groups, the amphiboles and serpentine. The amphiboles, which are characterized by having very strong stiff fibers that makes them a serious health hazard is, consist of five types of asbestos: actinolite, amosite, crocidolite, anthophyllite and termolite. Chrysotile, the sixth type of asbestos belongs to serpentine group. It is the most commonly used type of asbestos and do less damage to body tissue unlike the amphiboles.
Asbestos is helpful as it is best known for its resistance to flame and ability to woven into cloth. Because of its properties and a little touch of modern application, it improved its use from fireproof material to asbestos-reinforced cement products including pipes, sheet, and shingles commonly used in building construction. Asbestos is also used as insulation material frequently used in older buildings or for rocket engines on the space shuttle.
Generally, asbestos is a dangerous carcinogen that exposure to it may cause mesothelioma and lung cancer. Repairing, demolishing and even disturbing a suspected material of asbestos possesses a great danger when it becomes airborne. Because of the threat, it is advisable to undergo any asbestos form in testing before use. Everyone should be aware of the hazards as most of our house or a building is consist of asbestos. Some of these can be found on heating duct-work, furnace, some pipes that are particularly connected to radiators and steam heat, old knob-and-tube wires, fireplaces, walls and ceiling, and even our recently manufactured vinyl floor tiles.
You can’t be sure if a material contains asbestos just by looking at it with your naked eye as asbestos fibers can only be seen using special microscope. When acquiring asbestos sample for testing, you must have enough knowledge about asbestos as well as observe safety procedures. To minimize the spread of released fibers, it is recommended to shutdown any heating or cooling systems. Wet the material using a fine mist of water that contains a few drops of detergent before taking a sample, as it will reduce the possibility of releasing asbestos fibers. Using a small knife, corer, or any sharp objects, you can carefully cut a piece from the entire material for sampling. If the material for testing is friable, an amount of one teaspoon is adequate for testing while one square inch piece if the material is non-friable. Be sure to place the small piece into a clean container like a Zip Lock bag and tightly seal it. Clean up any material outside of the container using a damp paper towel and label it as you submit for testing.
The only way to know if a certain material contains hazardous asbestos is though analyzing it by an accredited testing laboratory. It is an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requirement that asbestos content suspected material must be analyzed with polarized light microscopy (PLM). The analysis result will then show the percent and type of asbestos found in the sample if it belongs to amphiboles or serpentine asbestos groups. There are lots of asbestos testing laboratories available in the world that has fully-accredited equipment and provide confidential testing that generates results in 24 hours.