Still, every now and then we get asked a curly question. One which challenges us and really makes us think about what’s possible. That’s exactly what happened when we got a call from Sophie.
Extreme Air Extraction
“I can test for the presence of asbestos in the soil, or I can provide a concentration of asbestos in a given sample. It depends on what the client wants,” says Sophie. “If the site is going to become an area for public use, the developers will want to know exactly the level of contamination so they can decide what to do with it because it could be a risk to the general public. Homeowners on the other hand may just want a yes or no answer as to whether or not there’s asbestos in their soil.”
Miniscule powdered, dried asbestos particles are easily inhaled into your lungs. Once there, they don’t break down and can cause serious illness, cancer, and even death. That makes Sophie’s job all the more important. But before she can take care of others with her asbestos testing, she first has to take care of herself.
“This enclosed glass room is where we prepare soil samples for asbestos testing and analysis,” Sophie says. “The samples come in wet, and they have to be oven dried, crushed and sieved before we can analyse them. This large extraction unit makes it safe for us to look at the dried samples once they come out of the oven.”
A Safe Working Environment
“When this room was being designed, I asked Peter who manages the other Eurofins laboratories on site who had installed their extractors and if he would recommend them for this job. Peter said they were high quality and reliable, so I was happy to use his recommendation. I gave Heat Pumps NOW a call,” she says.
“I think Blair was surprised that I had an understanding of the kind of extractor I needed. I needed Blair to show me how each extractor in this lab would work together, and how they would connect to the rest of the building. After talking over what we needed, Blair designed the system, and once I’d seen it I was happy that he understood this project and we could go ahead with the installation,” says Sophie.
“Our team has installed a number of fairly large commercial heating and air conditioning systems, but this project was something else,” says Blair. “We had to take into account a number of health and safety regulations, as well as hospital grade HEPA air filters to keep everyone safe. Obviously there was a lot of pressure to make sure we got everything done right.”
“We put this hi-wall heat pump in the general part of the lab first,” says Blair. “This is the supply air which has to match the air that is being extracted from the closed off clean area. That’s a big extract system which covers where all of the soil testing is being done.”
In that clean lab is an oven for drying the soil specimens. Next to it is a furnace for ashing samples, and beside that is a crusher which mashes up the soil for analysis. As well as the large overhead extract which covers all three items, there’s a secondary extract in front of the crusher.
“It’s not a massively complex system, but it’s very powerful to meet the health and safety requirements around the volume of air it’s moving per second,” says Blair.
Removing Airborne Dangers
As the air is sucked out of the room, it’s filtered through the hospital grade HEPA air filters which trap the asbestos particles, and allow the clean, filtered air to flow outside.
“The advantage of this extraction system is that we don’t have to suit up in full PPE before going into the room for testing,” says Sophie.
“I have worked in another lab which didn’t have the extraction equipment we have here. That meant every time we needed to prepare soils for analysis, we had to put on the whole hazmat suit with face masks and everything. It takes a long time to take all that gear on and off, so once you had suited up, you would pretty much stay in the soil prep room all day because it was such an effort. Thanks to Heat Pumps NOW, having this extraction unit saves us time and makes us more efficient at testing, as well as keeping us safe.”
This project was a challenge for the Heat Pumps NOW team, and one we enjoyed immensely. Completing major projects like this shows how far we have come, but we’ll always be available to put that heat pump up in your lounge.
Check out eurofins.com if you want to know more about asbestos testing and the amazing work that is taking place in Canterbury. For a free quote on everything from single, hi-wall heat pumps, to commercial ducted heating systems or medical grade extraction units, contact the team at Heat Pumps NOW on 03 377 7393.