To determine the asbestos concentration in materials, dust and the atmosphere, it is not possible currently to use ‘direct reading’ equipment. This is still being performed manually using microscopic techniques, a time-consuming, expensive and often non-transparent affair that also requires the specific expertise of experienced lab technicians. So TNO is trying to develop and encourage innovations in the field of asbestos detection with the aim of boosting the speed and quality of the detection and reducing the costs so that the presence of asbestos and possible exposure to it can be identified more simply, faster, cheaper and at a lower level. Another way that TNO contributes to technological innovations is the development of new sensor systems to determine quickly the identity of a suspect material on-site. For example, a sensor has been developed that tells the user in a very short time (less than a minute) whether a certain material contains asbestos and if so, what type and how much.
Cleaning up asbestos is subject to very strict regulations, which currently do not allow much scope for innovation. TNO considers innovation and technological modernisation in the asbestos clean-up industry essential to make the Netherlands “asbestos free” in a fast, efficient and safe way. TNO is able not only to work with industry to create an innovative solution but also to assess new techniques in terms of their effectiveness and safety according to specific metrology strategies and in compliance with the legal guidelines. The same kinds of technological challenges apply to the processing of cleaned-up waste that contains asbestos. Moreover, the current techniques for doing this are hardly cost-effective and sustainable.
The ban on asbestos roofs in 2024 puts pressure on the clean-up of asbestos cement roofs. Owners of buildings will have to weigh up when and how their asbestos cement roofs will have to be cleaned up. TNO has developed risk evaluation models for this on the basis of which priorities can be made for undertaking the clean-up operation. Use can also be made of resuspension models that are able to identify the risk of fibre emissions from asbestos cement roofs and the underlying surface.
Innovation and sustainability in the processing of waste that contains asbestos are essential if a good alternative is to be found for the current dumping process. So TNO collaborates on new sustainable processing methods and processes as well as supports initiatives that facilitate the innovative processing of asbestos. For many years TNO has been involved in such initiatives, such as denaturing, amalgamating and treating with caustic soda. With its specialist knowledge of asbestos characterisation and state-of-the-art analysis facilities, TNO is able to determine very low concentrations of asbestos and thus the residual product’s harmlessness.
In addition to these technical aspects, TNO’s multidisciplinary knowledge means that it can examine the whole chain and all the related aspects, such as sustainability, quality assurance, risk management, environmental effects and the application possibilities of the residual product. We would be happy to talk to you about this, so please contact us.