For those of us who know the health hazards of asbestos all too well, the latest announcement out of England should be greeted with three cheers. Researchers at the University of Hertfordshire have designed a laser sensor that can detect asbestos in the air in real time. The device is intended to provide contractors and remediation specialists the opportunity to get an idea of the interior conditions of abandoned buildings without having to wait for laboratory results. While this won’t replace the need for air sampling in most circumstances, it will provide another tool that environmental professionals and contractors can use to assess a site. Hopefully the device will alleviate some of the objections associated with redevelopment of old buildings where asbestos is a concern. And anything that can encourage redevelopment in this economy is a path worth pursuing.