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Air Quality Testing/Assessment

Air quality testing has become somewhat of a ubiquitous term describing the quantification of measureable factors to indoor (and outdoor) air "quality". The individual substances that collectively contribute to indoor environmental conditions each have quantities and concentrations which are deemed acceptable or problematic. There are specific protocols for sample collection and analysis of each substance which means that one sample cannot be "tested for everything".

Northern AQS performs air quality testing for the following substances individually or as part of a formal air quality assessment:

Airborne Mould Spore Contamination
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC's)
Vermiculite
Asbestos (Hazardous Material Identification and Clearance Testing)
Formadehyde (Urea Formaldehyde Foam Insulation - UFFI)
Welding Fumes

Alergen Trigger Testing
Hexavalent Chromium


Ask a Northern AQS Expert a Question

 

Airborne Mould Spore Contamination Sampling Methodology

Currently in Ontario, there are no standards or regulations for what are acceptable indoor airborne mould spore levels. The determination of an issue related to airborne mould spore contamination is based upon the collection and analysis of 169 litre air samples from within the building and a benchmark sample of the air outside the building. A comparison of the results of analysis will reveal an issue in the following circumstances:

1. Airborne spore quantities are significantly higher in the inside sample versus the benchmark for the same species of mould spore.

2. Dissimilar spore types or species are present in the indoor sample versus the benchmark sample.

In each circumstance, there is evidence of an indoor source of the microbial (mould) growth due to the fact that source of indoor air is, not surprisingly, the outdoors! The number of indoor samples required to accurately identify the source of indoor microbial growth is dependent upon building size, type and layout. The cost of testing includes an engineering formated report which includes a copy of the raw laboratory analysis results as well as interpretation of the results including possible causes and recommended actions. Testing is often prompted by requirements to demonstate due diligence where there is specific liabilty related to indoor air quality, verification of cleanliness after remediation, definition of a scope of work prior to a mould remediation or simply to provide peace of mind related to preventing potentially dangerous living conditions. Sample collection takes approximately 13 minutes per sample and standard lab service furnishes results within 3 business days. 24 hour rush lab results are available. Depending on the geographic location within Canada where testing is to be conducted, a truck fee or transportation expense is applicable. Truck fees are quoted prior to booking of testing appointments. Contact us for current air sampling rates and special offers for low income and public facility customers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC's)

According to Health Canada, "Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are a large and diverse family of chemicals that are emitted from a wide variety of sources including household products, furnishings and building materials." Potential health risks have been associated with exposure to specific VOC's such as Benzene and Toluene. Testing for the purposes of quantifying the VOC's present in an indoor environment can be accomplished in a number of ways and the choice is dependent upon whether the individual compounds are to be identified and measured to determine the ratio of one VOC to the total or if the presence of a specific compound is to be confirmed. Northern AQS offers the following options for VOC detection and measurement.

1. 3M brand Personal Air Monitors: These are generally the cheapest manner of detecting exposure to specific VOC's, however they are limited in that you need to know what compounds to detect for. Often these are recommended as part of a Air Quality Assessment in an industrial enviroment as they are useful in measuring worker`s exposure to potentially harmful VOC`s during their normal work activities.

2. Metered Orifice Sampling Canister: This method of VOC detection offers the most accuracy due to its reliance on capturing a specific volume of air which is analyzed to determine its specific composition, however it has some limitations due to the fact that results are for a block of time and don`t indicate when specifically within that block, the compounds were collected. This method of air sampling is generally utilized in conjunction with a second monitoring method in order to demonstrate due diligence or to directly identify the source of VOC`s allowing for isolation of it.

3. VOC Emission Monitoring: This method of VOC detection measures the peak and total amount of VOC`s emitted over a specific period of time (6, 12, 24, 48, 72, 96 hour testing), identifying when the emissions occured (which is often vital to determining the source). The limitation of this methodology currently, is that it doesn`t identify specific compounds that make up the total or peak, however when employed in conjunction with Metered Orifice Sampling Canisters offers a snapshot of the changes in air quality within an environment over the course of testing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vermiculite

Vermiculite is a natural source mineral used in Canada for insulation, and in an uncontaminated state, poses no concern for occupants or property owners. The challenge for property and stake holders is in determining if vermiculite is uncontaminated or, based upon where the vermiculite was sourced if it contains Asbestos as well. Unfortunately, there is a stigma attached to having vermiculite insulation installed in residential properties, due to the association of asbestos with vermiculite. Sampling of vermiculite to determine if it is asbestos containing requires the collection of mutliple bulk samples, due to the tendency of asbestos to settle within vermiculite. False negative results are the primary concern; sample collection by a trained, qualified professional is required to certify vermiculite composition and demonstate due diligence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Asbestos

Air testing for the presence of Asbestos Containing Material is usually only conducted as part of Clearance Air Sampling as required by Ontario 278/05 Regulations after completion of an Asbestos Abatement. 2400 litre air samples are collected via a calibrated vacuum pump and PCM media cartridge. Sample analysis requires the identification and quantification of asbestos fibres present within the sample. Results are determined as a Pass or Fail based upon the number of fibres detected versus the sample volume.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Formaldehyde (UFFI)

Air testing for the presence of Formaldehyde is generally mandated based upon two typical scenarios: the suspected presence of Volatile Organic Compounds or the presence of UFFI (Urea Formaldehyde Foam Insulation). Use of UFFI insulation was outlawed with the discovery that there was the potential for exposure to Formaldehyde beyond acceptable limits, based upon installation methods common at the time. Air testing for the presence of Formaldehyde is a simple straightforward process, involving the collection with either glass sorbent tube or via calibrated air cannister and spectrum analysis to determine exposure limits. Testing for Formaldehyde exposure levels follows NIOSH 2106M Methodology and involves the collection of air samples via metered orifice cartridges and regulated flow vacuum pumps. The number of samples collected is dependent upon the size and layout of the suspect property and is the main factor determining cost. Typically, formaldehyde testing is prompted by due diligence requirements related to a real estate transaction and often sampling may require as few as one sample per affected area or floor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welding Fumes

Exposure to welding fumes is an industrial hygiene issue which requires due diligence air testing due to the risk of exposure to known carcinogens. To determine worker exposure, an air sample is collected using a 37-mm diameter polyvinyl chloride (PVC) filter (5-μm pore size) contained in a polystyrene cassette. A calibrated sampling pump is used to draw a representative air sample from the breathing zone of an employee through the cassette and collect particulate on the filter. Sampling is proposed in each welding area/worker cell in addition to general area testing within the weld department. Monitoring/sampling is performed to determine the 8-hour TWA exposure for each employee on the basis of a sufficient number of personal breathing zone air samples to accurately characterize full shift exposure on each shift, for each job classification, in each work area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hexavalent Chromium

To determine worker exposure, an air sample is collected using a 37-mm diameter polyvinyl chloride (PVC) filter (5-μm pore size) contained in a polystyrene cassette. A calibrated sampling pump is used to draw a representative air sample from the breathing zone of an employee through the cassette and collect particulate on the filter. Sampling is proposed in each welding area/worker cell in addition to general area testing within the weld department. As per OSHA 1915.1026(d)(2) monitoring/sampling is performed to determine the 8-hour TWA (Time Weighted Average) exposure for each employee on the basis of a sufficient number of personal breathing zone air samples to accurately characterize full shift exposure on each shift, for each job classification, in each work area.

 

 

Air Quality Testing
Mould Remediation
Asbestos Management
NFC 2.2.2.4 Compliance Inspections
O.Reg 67/93 Ventilation System Inspections
Ventilation System Monitoring
Ventilation System Service

 

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updated 2.05.2012

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