i2 Analytical Granted UKAS Accreditation for Asbestos Dustiness Testing

i2 Analytical are proud to announce the award of ISO17025 accreditation for its innovative new technique to determine the respirable fibre release from soils and bulk materials. Representing a first in the industry, not only are we pioneering laboratory techniques for this work, we are the first (and only) lab to attain UKAS accreditation for the Asbestos Dustiness Testing.

Sounds great. What is it?
Back in 2015, we began to receive feedback from clients that there was a “gap” in the traditional process for compiling risk assessments when it came to asbestos dustiness. Traditional lab methods give you a lot of data:

   Positive confirmation of presence
   Fibre type
   Free fibre/ACM type
   A percentage (w/w) of what was there in total

And while this was previously deemed sufficient based on the approach taken, it was becoming clear that more was needed to help enable the delivery of more progressive and realistic risk assessment.

The question then became what could we as a laboratory provide to help fill this gap?

What is the risk?
Respirable fibres. These are the specific fibre types that have been identified as the most significant risk to human health, as due to their size/shape they can be breathed in and pass to the lower areas of the lung and cause Asbestosis and Mesothelioma.

These are long aerodynamic fibres, less than 3µm diameter and 5µm in length (in a length to width ratio of more than 3) that will penetrate to the terminal bronchioles in the gas exchange region of the lungs.

How do you find them?
There are various methods from around the globe that have been employed.

From the US, techniques have included people (fully equipped with PPE and air sampling kit) performing activities that would realistically be expected to be carried out on the site in its end use.

In the UK there has been work done using pop up tents – Small tents placed on site where the air is extracted while the soil is agitated for a period of time.

These are both examples of ‘Activity Based Sampling’, on site activity where a ‘task’ is performed under controlled conditions and the fibre release to air assessed through standard air monitoring techniques.

How do we find them?
We wanted to look at a laboratory based technique that would provide our clients with practical data on fibre release, require no further site activity or sampling and allows the flexibility to modify parameters to help accurately model specific site conditions. Taking the lead from a British Standard (BS15051-2) for the Measurement of the Dustiness from Bulk Materials we have adapted the ‘continual drop’ methodology of sample agitation to specifically look at dust generation in soils and the number and concentration of respirable fibres released.

Stepping away from the traditional “Worst Case Scenario” approach to risk assessment, we have generated a methodology that can give robust and consistent data via a process that can be adapted to encapsulate details specific to you and your project.

Applications include looking at a dried sample to assess maximal fibre release, varying moisture content to look at optimal suppression techniques, the effect of binding agents on fibre release rates and more simple assessments of on-site conditions, the latter of which having proven to corroborate well with 3rd party on site assessments.

For full technical details of the Asbestos Dustiness testing method and how it can help you, please contact:
Dr Claire Stone or Will Fardon

i2 Asbestos Dustiness 

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