How Do You Test for Asbestos?

For many years, asbestos was widely in the building industry. This naturally occurring fibrous material was valued for both its strength and resistance to heat and was used in flooring, insulation, ductwork, and more. Unfortunately, it was ultimately found to be a substantial health risk if its fibres became loose and airborne.  Now, if you are renovating or changing an older building, you need to test for asbestos to ensure all your workers and anyone on site is safe.

Inhaling asbestos dust does not cause pain, but can cause scarring in the lungs, as well as mesothelioma, a type of cancer that causes the victim to essentially suffocate to death. Decades may pass between exposure and diagnosis, meaning that those exposed to asbestos years ago may yet see health issues in the future.

Many homes built prior to 1980 contain asbestos, representing tens of thousands of buildings across the country. Asbestos testing is important for your health and safety, particularly if you intend to do any renovations that might damage or disturb the material.

How to Test For Asbestos

Visually inspecting your home is unfortunately not a reliable means of detecting asbestos. Any suspected asbestos fibres will need to be tested with special equipment. Samples can be sent to a certified lab where a proper analysis can be made but taking samples yourself is not a wise choice as it may prove hazardous to your health. It is recommended to have a professional collect the material to minimize exposure for you and your family.

While asbestos itself cannot be found just by looking, if you have an older home it is worth looking for signs that construction materials are beginning to degrade. Watch for cracks and dusty areas anywhere that materials seem to be falling apart. You can inspect the following for signs of damage and degradation:
• Pipes
• Walls
• Tiles
• Vinyl Flooring
• Stovetop Pads
• Insulation (around pipes, for example)

How to Proceed with Asbestos Testing

If you decide to have a sample taken for testing, be aware that this can disturb the material and create a hazardous situation. To prepare your home before having a certified contractor perform the test, stop all air conditioning and ventilation systems that could circulate the asbestos in the air. Additionally, close off the area where the sample is being collected, and ideally, have everyone leave the house during the procedure.

If Asbestos is Found

Removal of asbestos from your home requires different methods, depending on the condition of the material, where it is located, and whether it is friable or non-friable. Friable asbestos crumbles easily and can become airborne, whereas non-friable asbestos is bound with other materials and tends not to become airborne as easily.

Materials that contain asbestos are occasionally repaired and/or isolated rather than removed (Asbestos Abatement), but if you are doing a renovation or similar work, often the only true, permanent solution is to have it removed by a professional certified in asbestos work.

With asbestos killing as many as 2,000 Canadians each year, being aware of its presence in your home is crucial, especially when it begins to show signs of breaking down.

To have asbestos removed from your home or if you need asbestos testing on suspect material, Call Progressive Environmental today so that you can get back to enjoying your home safely.