The science bit: Putting the important work of our laboratories under the microscope

Behind the scenes of our laboratories

AMONG the experts at Acorn Analytical Services is a dedicated team of laboratory analysts who work in our in-house laboratories in Northampton and Cleckheaton.

Their work involves supporting our consultants, and our clients, by analysing samples of materials which are found on-site or sent to us to be investigated.

Here we take a more detailed look at the work our laboratories do and what makes it so important.

Why have in-house laboratories?

Having two, UKAS-accredited laboratories helps to make Acorn unique – giving us the capacity to be able to turn around tests quickly and efficiently.

A large part of the work our analysts do involves testing samples which are suspected of containing asbestos. Based on guidance issued by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), our analysts identify and remove the different types of fibres present in a sample using stereo binocular microscopy and polarised light microscopy. Positive confirmation of asbestos is shown by the sign of elongation of the birefringent fibres and from the colours obtained using central stop dispersion staining when the fibres are mounted in liquids of the known refractive index.

Do your laboratories conduct other tests?

Our analysts can help in other ways too, offering tests for anthrax and lead paint.

For many years, plaster was reinforced with animal hair to make it stronger but some of the animals used in this process could have been infected with anthrax. Anthrax bacteria can survive for many years making it a hazard in some older buildings. While the risk to health does remain low, if you suspect that anthrax exists in your building you should always get a sample tested to keep yourself and those around you safe.

Similarly, the lead in lead paint can be a serious risk to health. Used to create the pigments in paints in older buildings, including offices and schools until the 1960s, exposure to lead can cause problems over time if it is not identified early and dealt with.

Again, if you are working on the site of an older building and believe that lead might be used in the paint, getting a sample tested is essential.

We also have a mobile laboratory which can be used to conduct specialist tests on-site giving immediate results when speed really is of the essence.

What does it mean for me?

Having our own laboratories, and a dedicated team of experts, means we can carry out testing quickly giving you the results you need within 24 hours in most cases. Other tests may take up to 12 days.

Working with our team of expert consultants, we can help you get the best advice possible and because we are one of the last fully independent consultancies in the UK, you can be assured we are always impartial.

Depending on the nature of the test, samples can be dropped off at our laboratories in Cleckheaton and Northampton by prior appointment or collected. Safety guidelines must be followed at all times – for more detailed information please contact us on the telephone number below.

Prices for testing does vary depending on the work required. Get in touch today to arrange an appointment with one of our consultants for a free, no obligation quote. The price you are given is always the price you will pay.

Acorn is a professional asbestos consultancy helping organisations deal with asbestos compliance using asbestos surveysasbestos air testing, and asbestos removal management. 

Please call one of the team, or use the online form to obtain your free quotation. If you would like further information or advice on asbestos and asbestos training, contact the team on 0844 818 0895 or Contact Us

Ian Stone

I am based out of our Northampton office but regularly travel to meet with new and existing clients. I have assisted thousands of clients over the years on varying-sized projects, several have been schemes totalling over one million pounds spent purely on asbestos. Together with Neil Munro, I host our weekly podcast – Asbestos Knowledge Empire and I am Co-author of Asbestos The Dark Arts and Fear and Loathing of Health and Safety.

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