Suspecting there’s asbestos in your home can cause panic as it is a known harmful substance and a serious concern. We are all exposed to low levels of asbestos at some time during our lives, as it’s been found in the air, water, and soil. Asbestos poses a major threat when regular direct contact occurs. Typically, handling this substance on the job or excessive environmental contact are the biggest risk factors that pose serious health concerns.
The world of microorganisms and sample identification is truly fascinating, but only if you are using the correct equipment. Today, we will be focusing on the polarized light microscope (PLM). The team at SanAir Technologies Laboratory has put together this article to help you understand what polarized light microscopes are, as well as how they can be used for sample identification.
Polarized light microscopes direct a beam of altered light, called polarized light, through a sample. The beam travels through a series of filters that change the polarity and wavelength of the light, and the result is a very high-contrast image. PLM analysis is regularly used for analyzing bones, teeth, muscles, geological features, and asbestos.
Think about the smallest thing you’ve ever seen in your life. While most of us think of a piece of dust or a grain of sand, odds are, the smallest thing you’ve actually seen was under the lens of a microscope in a grade school science class. While what you observed in science class is certainly small, it’s nothing compared to what can be seen utilizing modern technology in electron microscopes. These devices are used by our laboratory to thoroughly examine a sample and provide a precise breakdown of its components.
When it comes to sample testing, our lab can test for specific substances like asbestos or lead, but to test for the presence of living organisms, we can opt to use microbiology identification. In the microbiology identification process, scientists examine samples in a variety of ways and run a series of tests to draw conclusions about the presence of microorganisms in the sample. In homes and businesses, this can be particularly helpful in testing air samples for the presence of mold and microorganisms.
It might surprise you to learn that microbiology identification is utilized in a number of different fields beyond the testing of air in your home or business. In the medical field, microbiology testing is used to identify the presence of viruses, parasites, fungi, and bacteria that cause harm to the human body. Pharmaceutical microbiologists study enzymes, vitamins, antibiotics, and vaccines. Food microbiology surrounds the identification of bacteria and microbes that are present in spoiling foods and the foodborne illnesses they cause. When studying the environment and the atmosphere, in particular, microbiology identification is utilized to understand how microorganisms in the environment affect human health.
In the fall of 2017, an outbreak of harmful bacteria linked to the cooling mist at Disneyland in California caused 22 people to develop Legionnaires’ disease, resulting in one fatality. In December of 2018, a health official testified that Legionella bacteria in the water of the cooling tower was the most likely source. This frightening outbreak left many people seeking more information about just what Legionnaires’ disease is and how it is caused. Our goal is to help you understand Legionnaires’ disease and its causes, as well as how we can help if you suspect contamination of this bacteria.
Where Does Legionnaires’ Come From?
The Legionella bacteria is typically found in bodies of freshwater such as lakes, streams or rivers. It only becomes a health concern if found in large quantities within these systems or if it is found in man-made water systems such as hot tubs, sink faucets, air conditioning systems, fountains, water features, or hot water tanks. Legionella bacteria can cause health issues to humans once it is in the form of water vapor. Once it enters the water vapor, it can be inhaled by humans which can potentially lead to legionellosis. In more rare cases, Legionella have been transmitted to the lungs from drinking water. This happens when an individual aspirates on drinking water and typically only occurs in individuals who have difficulty swallowing.