Why you can never accurately judge Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) visually

A wise person came up with the adage “don’t judge a book by its cover”. Even the plainest covered book may be more interesting, entertaining, informative and enjoyable than a book with a flashy cover.

 

We need to treat ACMs the same way. Unfortunately in the construction and demolition industries too many workers and businesses are relying on a visual inspection of suspicious products to judge whether they contain asbestos. If you are unsure whether a product contains asbestos you must assume it contains asbestos and have it tested at a NATA Approved Lab.

 

Some of the "wrong" common tests regarding whether a product contains asbestos are:

Test 1: If it has a hollow sound when tapped it is not asbestos

Test 2: If fibres are not showing then it is not asbestos

Test 3: If I use a cigarette lighter on the edge of the product and exposed fibres burn then it is not asbestos

Test 4: If the product has writing on it then it definitely does not contain asbestos

Test 5: If it does not have a golf ball pattern on the sheet then it is not asbestos

Test 6: The house was built after 1985- it definitely does not contain asbestos

 

The above tests- although sometimes accurate should never be relied on to determine whether a product contains asbestos- samples need to be always tested at a NATA approved lab to determine whether the product contains asbestos.

 

Pro Safety and Training has decided to put 2 different samples to the test and have them tested through a NATA approved lab to determine whether a visual inspection of products is accurate.

 

Sample #1- Smooth backed sheet found in a bathroom from a late 80s home in Ipswich with no writing on the back of the sheet.

Test 1: Hollow when tapped, no tingy sound at all

Test 2: No fibres able to be seen by eye, closer inspection with magnifying glass shows visible white fibres

Test 3: Unable to determine whether fibres have burnt or not

Test 4: Product has black printed writing on it with product name “Hardiflex”

Test 5: Smooth back

Test 6: House is estimated to be built in 1987

 

 

Sample #2- Textured backed sheet found in a sleepout in a Queenslander style home in Brisbane. No writing is able to be seen on back of sample.

Test 1: Hollow when tapped, no tingy sound at all

Test 2: No fibres able to be seen by eye, closer inspection with a magnifying glass shows very fine fibres.

Test 3: Unable to determine whether fibres have burnt or not

Test 4: Sample product shows no evidence of writing. Unable to gain access to back of sheet

Test 5: Textured backed sheet

Test 6: House is estimated to be built in 1930- potentially could have been renovated

 

Results:

 

Sample #1

NATA Approved Lab Result: Contains Asbestos (CH- Chrysotile)

Industry Tests: The sample met no criteria of the industry tests

Conclusion: Although the product may not look like asbestos it definitely contains asbestos.

 

Sample #2

 

NATA Approved Lab Result: Does not contain ACM

Industry Tests: This sample was suspect with 2 of the common industry tests.

Conclusion: Although the product may meet some of the industry tests it is definitely not asbestos.

 

Summary:

Even though a product may not look like ACM, always assume the product contains asbestos and have it tested at a NATA Approved lab such as: http://envirolabsolutions.com.au/

Stowe Australia

Stowe Australia

Remove Non-Friable Asbestos Training

TestimonialCourse was a good refresher and brought me up to date with relevant info conducted by a good instructor.

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Doval Constructions (QLD) Ltd

Doval Constructions (QLD) Ltd

Remove Non-Friable Asbestos Training

TestimonialGood course. Seb has extremely good knowledge of subject matter, regulatory requirements and practical application. Takes time to ensure you understand material. Highly recommend.

- Andrew S - Brisbane

Evoqua

Evoqua

Confined Space Entry Training

TestimonialGood course content. Excellent practical facilities.

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Newcrest Mining Limited

Newcrest Mining Limited

Certificate IV Work Health and Safety Training

TestimonialTraining was well presented and the trainer was conversant with the topic.

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BHP Billiton

BHP Billiton

Remove Non-Friable Asbestos Training

TestimonialGreat course. Sebastian was easy to learn from and kept it relevant. Will happily do training through Pro Safety Training next time.

- Brendan M - Brisbane

Ventia Utility Services P/L

Ventia Utility Services P/L

Remove Non-Friable Asbestos Training

TestimonialA very well organised course to conduct the course on a remote site. Worthwhile skills delivered to all participants with customised discussion for the specific circumstances of the site.

- Scott M - Brisbane

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