Asbestos testing is an easy process that home owners can do if they are concerned asbestos exposure. This article gives you tips for sampling asbestos and for obtaining asbestos testing services by a laboratory. Laboratory charges for asbestos testing can run as little as $6 to $10 per material. Also, don't bother with the test kits available in some stores; they do not identify asbestos out of the box. You still have to pay extra for the actual lab test with these.
CaveatsAsbestos testing is an easy process, but there are two key points to keep in mind before beginning:
- Asbestos sampling yourself is easy and convenient and will let you know which materials contain asbestos, but it will have very little legal standing. This will not matter if all you want to do is just identify if asbestos is there or not, but in other circumstances a professional asbestos inspector may be required. This partly is to have an independent third-party say that the building material in question really came from the location indicated. Otherwise, someone could just find some asbestos containing material and claim it came from their home.
- The asbestos test report will just tell you how much asbestos is present and will identify which type of asbestos it is. In the vast majority of cases it will not explain or interpret anything for you. An asbestos lab is licensed to identify asbestos and to quantify it, and giving advice is a totally different license (asbestos consultant). You will have to do your own research if you are confused by the results.
Asbestos SamplingAsbestos sampling is pretty easy:
- Find a good location where damage will not be noticeable or likely to spread fibers.
- Wet the material first if it looks like it will create dust or release fibers.
- Cut or break off a small piece of material (quarter to half-dollar size).
- Put the material into a air tight plastic bag such as Ziploc.
- Label the bag with what type of material it is and the location.
- Repeat if there are more materials; each gets its own bag
While doing the sampling just be careful not to cause dust or fiber release, and you should wet wipe the immediate area afterwards to make sure all the potential asbestos dust is gone. Make sure you pick a location that will not be continually disturbed afterwards or where it will not be blown upon, or otherwise you might need to take steps to seal it up afterwards.
For the actual asbestos test, you will need to find a laboratory. In the US, a branch of the government actually maintains a list identifying asbestos labs that are accredited (search for NVLAP accredited PLM labs). You can call around to local labs, or since the samples can easily be mailed there are many options. Email or call the asbestos lab to get pricing information and special instructions. They can often email you back any forms they need you to fill out.
Quite a few of the asbestos testing labs don't like dealing with private individuals for various reasons, so often you might get quoted a higher price of $20 to $40. Other labs are not as concerned about it, and the pricing can be more in the $6 to $10 range depending on how soon you want results back.
Once you get the lab results back, you may also need help interpreting the asbestos testing lab results.