Air sampling is usually conducted before and during abatement, to monitor workers' exposure, and to ensure that the site has been adequately cleaned (post-abatement, or clearance monitoring).
Two methods are used to analyze air samples. Phase Contrast Micoscopy (PCM) and Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM):
The advantages of PCM are the inexpensive cost, the wide-spread availability, the minimal sample preparation, and quick results. PCM is also the OSHA analytical method. The disadvantages are that it is not asbestos specific and fibers smaller than a given size are not counted.
Unlike PCM, TEM is specific for asbestos and even the smallest of fibers are counted. The disadvantages are the expensive costs and slow turn around times.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), has not established an exposure limit for asbestos, since NOISH has not identified thresholds for carcinogens that protect 100% of the population. NIOSH recommends that occupational exposure to carcinogens, including asbestos fibers, be limited to the lowest feasible concentration.
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