MACS Lab, Inc. Frequently Asked Questions
When to Test
How to Send Samples
Interpreting Your Results
MACS Lab Procedures
When to Test
Q: I’ve been told that I need to test my linoleum/carpet/ceiling for asbestos before having it removed. Why?
A: Any contractor must follow OSHA rules. OSHA requires that no employee be exposed to asbestos. If the home was built prior to 1980, there is a high likelihood that the materials used contain asbestos. Linoleum (trade name) or Resilient Sheet Flooring, Carpet Glue, Floor Tile, Floor Tile Mastic, “Popcorn” Ceiling material, Wallboard/Joint Compound, etc. are all products that typically contain asbestos.
Q: If I have already removed my linoleum/carpet/ceiling, should I have it tested for asbestos anyway?
A: It is a little late at this point. If it was removed by a non-asbestos removal professional, you may have created an air quality issue for you and those workers. To bring a little piece of mind, you might want to test. If it is positive, then it would make sense to have a professional asbestos abatement company come in and clean the area.
How to Submit Samples
Q: How do I send samples for testing?
A: We need three things:
- Your samples: Put each sample in a separate sealed bag such as a zip-lock type bag. Mark each bag so we know which sample is which.
- Your instructions: Please download our Chain of Custody form and fill out the relevant parts. We’ll need information about you, the address and location where the samples were taken (such as “123 Easy St, MyTown”), and how you want to receive your report (check “mail”, “fax”, or “email”). List each sample with the identification matching what you put on the sample bag, and the description you want to see on the report (such as “Nursery ceiling”). Be sure to check the column for the type of analysis you want.
- Your payment: You can enclose a check, or complete our Credit Card Authorization form. Failure to enclose payment will delay your analysis.
Send your samples, chain of custody, and payment to:
431 Crown Point Circle, Suite 120
Grass Valley, CA 95945
We recommend using a trackable delivery service such as FedEx or UPS. If you send by US Mail, note that if your envelope’s surface is uneven due to the sample, it needs extra postage (a nonmachinable surcharge). In that case, write “Hand Stamp” on the envelope. The “delivery confirmation” offered by Priority Mail only confirms that the carrier put the package in our mailbox; it may be several hours before we check the box. For fastest service, we recommend that you request a signature confirmation.
Of course, if you are in the Grass Valley area you can always drop off your samples at the lab. Click here for hours and directions.
Be aware that the turnaround time is from the time the lab receives your samples.
Interpreting Your Results
Q: I just received my lead report. What does it mean?
A: The first page of the report has a column that shows the percent of lead (by weight) in your sample. The other pages are part of our quality control process, and you can safely ignore them.
To evaluate the percentage of lead in your sample, consult with the Department of Health Services.
For Paint, the HUD Guidelines “action level” is 0.5% by weight = 5,000 ppm.
For Water: 15 ppb: US EPA “Action Level”
For Soil: EPA TSCA Section 403 Standard - January 2001 are > 400 ppm Hazardous in play areas. > 1,200 ppm Bare soil yard wide average. California Title 17 “Lead Contaminated Soil” - ≥ 400 - 1000 ppm Hazardous in bare soil in areas where children play. > 1,000 ppm Hazardous in all other areas.
Q: My asbestos report says that I have 3% Chrysotile. What percentage is the limit so that I don’t have to contact an abatement contractor?
A: If there is any asbestos present, OSHA requires trained workers with protective equipment to remove the asbestos. The percentage of asbestos is really not significant - it is still asbestos-containing at 1% or 30% - either way it is dangerous.
Q: Is it true that tile and vinyl sheet flooring materials (except linoleum) can’t be analyzed by PLM for asbestos?
A: Yes, this is true because the fiber size is too small. You can use PLM for screening tile samples. If PLM testing finds the tile to be positive then that result is acceptable. If PLM finds the results to be negative then have it tested by qualitative transmission electron microscopy.
Q: Can you compare PCM and TEM results?
A: No. MACS Lab has a Technical Paper on this subject.
Q: How does MACS Lab handle composite dust (wipe) samples?
A: We are required to separate each dust (wipe) sample composite into single samples and each single sample must be analyzed as a separate single sample. The report must also have for each sub-sample in the composite the remarks “This sample was contaminated by other samples as it was sent in the same container with other samples” printed on the report. This is required by the AIHA. We are an accredited AIHA Lead laboratory and must follow their rules and regulations. Each wipe sample in a composite is analyzed separately and we charge for each wipe in a composite sample as a separate single sample. The best advice here is don’t make composite samples. The problem is a technical one regarding different matrix materials being in each of the subset samples and how that different matrix never gets tested in the QC process.
MACS Lab Procedures
Q: Does MACS Lab accept credit cards for commercial accounts?
A: Yes, MACS Lab accepts Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express at the time of service for all commercial and retail services.
Q: Can I get verbal results from your lab?
A: As a matter of quality business practice you should never ask for verbal results from any lab except in an emergency. Your reputation is on the line with your client. Misunderstandings are easy when in a hurry and when someone jots something down on a scrap of paper. The best policy is to ask for a fax or email to be sent to you.
Q: Can MACS Lab perform a lead analysis that I can compare to the results I get with an XRF instrument?
A: Yes. Take a sample of known area (1 or 2 square inches) and tell us what that area is either in inches or using the metric system. Your report will show the lead concentration in mg per square centimeter.
Q: Why won’t MACS Lab guarantee turnaround times?
A: MACS Lab will try very hard to meet your turnaround times, however, quality is our most important product. We will tell you ahead of time if we can’t meet your requested turnaround time. Your reputation and name are on the report that you give your clients. It is imperative that you get accurate results from a quality laboratory to maintain your reputation. We have a well earned reputation for quality and we will not let our reputation or your reputation suffer for some sales gimmick. There are times when rapid analysis is critical and we will respect that need and do all we can to support you. If you are in such a position please let us know and we will go the extra mile.