In order to help its customers – including contractors, developers, manufacturers and material suppliers – manage their waste streams, Recovery 1 (resource recovery, recycling and research facility ) must ensure that every load of material entering the facility is free from harmful elements, most notably asbestos. Failure to immediately identify asbestos-containing material can impact the health and safety of Recovery 1’s workers as well as employees at recycling end-user facilities.
Asbestos – a group of silicate minerals – can cause serious health effects to both facility workers and the public. One of the most common types of asbestos-related health problems is pleural mesothelioma, a cancer that develops in the cells that form the outer lining of the lungs and inner lining of the chest cavities.
Unfortunately, asbestos is an insulating and sound attenuating product that was used extensively before the 1980s in insulation, fireproofing, flooring, roofing materials, some cement products, and in a variety of other building construction materials. After buildings are deconstructed, much of the material is sent to recycling facilities for sorting in order to maximize the amount of potentially recyclable materials from the building. Some of those materials are potentially an asbestos risk.
Located in Tacoma, Wash., Recovery 1 is a resource recovery, recycling and research facility dedicated to forward-thinking solutions to sustainable waste management systems. Recovery 1 receives an average of 200 tons of material each day, and has diverted more than 1.4 million tons of material from landfill use and disposal since it began operations more than two decades ago.
Chuck Hoffman, a Quality Control Manager for Recovery 1 said that they screen tons of material every day from construction and demolition sites, and their handheld NIR asbestos analyzer is one of the best tools they have. (Near-Infrared (NIR) spectroscopy can be very useful in probing bulk material by penetrating much farther into a sample than mid infrared radiation with little or no sample.) All their loads have to be screened and inspected, and when it comes to asbestos, they take it very seriously because it affects health and safety. Without the asbestos analyzing tool it would be a lot more difficult for the company to detect asbestos immediately and remove it from their premises.
Before adopting the use of handheld asbestos analyzers, Recovery 1 had been using on-site polarized light microscopes to identify asbestos-containing materials missed during the AHERA (Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act) survey or by a contractor who did not differentiate between new construction and renovation activities. They switched methods because the company can avoid long lead times waiting for lab results, and just point and shoot to obtain accurate results in seconds.
Demolition/renovation loads entering the facility must be accompanied by an asbestos survey from the demolition/renovation site, but that’s not a fail-proof method for ensuring the absence of asbestos. In fact, more than 15 years ago, regulators suggested that a “Good Faith Survey” be acquired when demolition debris is accepted. Recovery 1 staff includes six AHERA inspectors who review the survey before loads are accepted and inspect every load for suspect material and lead-based paint, regardless of how the truck driver describes the load.
The ability to test for asbestos in suspect materials helps the inspectors quickly determine if a load is acceptable for processing. If the analyzer shows a positive result, the sample can then be taken to Recovery 1’s on-site lab for confirmation. Deploying the handheld analyzer helps to quickly establish a comfort level that the load can or cannot be accepted for processing.
Utilization of the asbestos analyzer has brought “peace of mind” to company management, thanks to its speed, reliability, accuracy and ease of use and maintenance. It has allowed them to build an impeccable track record for asbestos detection and abatement … and has helped maintain worker safety.
Read the customer testimonial: Recovery 1 identifies asbestos promptly and accurately with Thermo Scientific microPHAZIR AS analyzer