COVID-19: Econotech has been declared an "essential supplier of services to essential businesses". As such we are operating as usual within the public health restrictions. We do not foresee any issue which would cause this to change, but will proactively notify our clients immediately in the event that it does. To view Econotech's WorkSafe compliance COVID-19 operating policies, click here.   (Nov 2020)

Pulp & Paper Microscopy

        (Looking for asbestos testing? - click here.)

Many properties of pulp or paper can be associated with the properties of the species/genus of the fibers that comprise it. If your product isn't performing the way you expect, you might not have the blend of fiber types or species that you intended. Identifying the species (genus) of fibers in a pulp or paper product is a specialized skill acquired through years of practice and experience at the microscope.

At low magnifications, stereoscopes allow us to examine, isolate and identify contaminants, like shives or ash or other particles, that are embedded in a sheet of pulp or paper. Usine higher magnifications with our compound microscopes we can examine the amount of damage to fibers or hardwood vessels at various stages of pulp treatment. Photomicrographic images of product surfaces and edges can effectively communicate what is happening at the fiber level.

Graham at the microscope

Graham has gained expertise from over 30 years of experience with optical microscopy techniques; specializing in species ID, fiber analysis and contaminant investigations.

Some examples of what we do:

Fiber Analysis

  • Identify wood and/or non-wood species in wood chip, pulp and paper samples.
  • Determine hardwood/softwood content ratios.
  • Analyze papers for chemical/mechanical pulp ratio.

Contaminant Identification

  • Identify pulp and paper contaminants like shives, plastics, and particulates.
  • Characterize reject materials.

Measure dimensions and ratios of furnish constituents

  • Measure average cell wall thickness and fiber diameters in pulps.
  • Determine hardwood vessel-to-fiber ratios and analyze vessel size and damage.
  • Identify and count: sclereids, stickies and ink particles.

Special Projects: Develop and perform custom microscopical analyses for unique perspectives on products.

Photomicrography: Capture high-resolution photomicrographs to show fiber characteristics, document product condition or defects, show printability problems, use images for marketing purposes, amongst many other applications.


Your contact is: Graham Vandegriend


Photomicrography examples:

photomicrograph of OCC pulp

OCC pulp fiber

photomicrograph of contaminant (sclereid)

Embedded paper contaminant:

photomicrograph of paperboard x-section

Laminated paperboard x-section

photomicrograph of contaminant (polyethylene)

Embedded paper contaminant:

photomicrograph of suspended solids from filter

Suspended solids
from cartridge filter

photomicrograph of wheat straw pulp

Wheat straw pulp


Asbestos Testing

Asbestos testing is becoming increasingly mandated by WorkSafeBC prior to any renovations, demolitions or disposal projects of bulk residential and commercial construction materials including but not limited to drywall boards, flooring, insulation, wiring, and roofing samples. This is to ensure the safety of all homeowners and contract employees while dealing with this high profile hazardous material that is a well-known carcinogen causing Mesothelioma.

All our team members have received comprehensive asbestos analysis training from renowned and established institutes such as McCrone Research Institute and/or Microscopy Instruction, Consultation and Analysis (MICA) in addition to extensive in house training including participation in quarterly proficiency testing by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) in both bulk and air categories respectively.

Our services include:

Bulk Asbestos Analysis

  • Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM) - NIOSH 9002
  • Point Counting - 400 & 1000 point counts †
  • Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) †
  • Cincinnati (EPA 600/R-04/004) - Sink Float testing for Vermiculite samples †

Asbestos Air Cassette Analysis

  • Phase Contrast Microscopy (PCM) - NIOSH 9000 †
  • Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) †

         † - Analyses carried out by a trusted sublet lab.

We offer "Positive Stop" analyses. This gives permission to the analyst to halt the analysis of any remaining unanalyzed homogenous samples from the same area if one of the samples in the group is found to be asbestos containing. It gives clients the option to fulfill the sample collection requirements set out by WorkSafeBC, as seen in the table below, but at the same time minimising cost of analysis as clients would only be charged based on the number of samples analyzed - not necessarily the total submitted. Please do not hesitate to contact us for more details.

WorkSafeBC has inspected our lab to ensure that our asbestos handling and testing procedures meet provincial regulations.

Your contact is: Graham

Click here for our asbestos Chain of Custody PDF doc. It's downloadable, fillable, printable and savable!


Bulk material sample collection guide

Type of material Area of homogeneous material * Minimum number of bulk samples to be collected **
Surfacing materials, including textured coatings, drywall mud, plasters, and stucco Less than 90 m2
(approximately 1,000 ft2)
At least 3 samples of each type of surfacing material
Between 90 and 450 m2
(approximately 5,000 ft2)
At least 5 samples of each type of surfacing material
Greater than 450 m2 At least 7 samples of each type of surfacing material
Sprayed insulation and blown-in insulation, including sprayed fireproofing and vermiculite insulation (including vermiculite insulation within concrete masonry units, or CMUs) Less than 90 m2
(approximately 1,000 ft2)
At least 3 samples
Between 90 and 450 m2
(approximately 5,000 ft2)
At least 5 samples
Greater than 450 m2 At least 7 samples
Flooring, including vinyl sheet flooring (and backing) and floor tiles Any size At least 1 sample per flooring type in each room (and 1 from each layer of flooring)
Mechanical insulation, including duct taping, pipe insulation, elbows and boiler/tank insulation Any size At least 3 samples
Mastics and putties, including duct mastic (around penetrations) and window putty Any size At least 3 samples
Roofing materials, including felting and shingles Less than 90 m2
(approximately 1,000 ft2)
At least 1 sample (each layer of material must be sampled)
Between 90 and 450 m2
(approximately 5,000 ft2)
At least 2 samples (each layer of material must be sampled)
Greater than 450 m2 At least 3 samples (each layer of material must be sampled)
Asbestos cement (transite) board and pipe Any size At least 1 sample
Other materials Any size At least 1 sample per type of material

* Homogeneous material is considered uniform in texture and appearance, was installed at one time, and is likely to be of only one type of material or formulation.

** If the material is assumed to be asbestos, samples do not have to be collected. The professional judgement of a qualified person can be used to reduce the number of bulk samples of homogeneous materials. If fewer samples than minimum recommended number are collected, surveyors should document the rationale for their position in the survey report.

Please look under "Services" in the navigation bar at the top of the page to search by other categories or see our Full List of Services