How to Check for Asbestos

Most of us are aware that asbestos is harmful to our health, even if we are not exactly sure how. Knowing that it is dangerous is enough for us to not want it in our homes, but unfortunately, it was widely used in homes built before 1980 and it still lingers there today.  If you are undertaking a renovation or demolition in any building, you should know how to check for asbestos before you get too far along in your plans.

Many people think of asbestos as insulation in their attic, not realizing that it could also be in many other materials throughout the home, including:

  • Vinyl floor tiles
  • Glue attaching floor tiles to wood or concrete
  • Certain types of paint
  • Plaster
  • Siding
  • Some forms of linoleum
  • Roofing material (generally on flat roofs, but may also be on shingles)
  • HVAC duct insulation
  • Window caulking and glazing

All that asbestos can become problematic, particularly when damaged.

Checking for Asbestos

Unfortunately, making a quick visual inspection is not enough to determine if asbestos is present in your home. If you are concerned that you have asbestos in your home, there are do-it-yourself kits available that allow you to take samples for testing.

These kits usually come with personal protective equipment (PPE) such as a mask and disposable gloves and will work in two stages: first you collect the material in question, then you send them off to a lab for analysis. You will receive confirmation of whether or not you have asbestos in your home or workplace. Keep in mind that the lab may also charge a fee.

A small number of test kits allow you to do the testing yourself, including a chemical agent for this purpose. You will then need to interpret the results on your own.

These test kits are becoming more common and can be purchased quite easily, but there are reasons to avoid them.

Why You Should Avoid DIY Testing for Asbestos

Once you know how to check for asbestos, it might seem like a simple matter to do the testing yourself and the thought of saving money or seeing the results quickly rather than waiting for a lab’s response may be tempting, but there are many reasons why you need to leave asbestos testing to a professional:

  • Accuracy. Taking proper samples can be difficult. If you do not have experience in testing for asbestos, there is a chance that you have sent the laboratory a sample which is not a very good representation of the materials in your home.
  • Identification. Identifying asbestos can be tricky, particularly for those who don’t have the necessary experience. Having the asbestos mixed in as part of other materials only makes it more difficult.
  • Dangerous Exposure. While the kit you purchase will come with PPE, it is not necessarily very effective at protecting you from airborne fibres containing asbestos. Taking samples can easily disturb asbestos fibres that put you and those sharing the environment, such as coworkers or family, at risk of serious health issues.
  • Sealing. The area where the sample is being taken will need to be properly sealed to avoid having fibres escape and spread through the area. This alone can be an extremely difficult part of the testing.

Calling on a Professional

Whether you do the test yourself or call in trained professionals, if you do find asbestos, you will need to work with a professional team to come up with the best asbestos removal or asbestos abatement plan for your needs, as well as dealing with any other hazardous materials.

Having DIY kits available for asbestos testing can give the impression that it is quick and easy to do, but the truth is that when your health and that of those around you can be severely affected by the presence of asbestos, there really is no good reason not to call a professional.

Asbestos is deadly. Professional asbestos abatement companies will allow you to be at ease, even if the tests reveal the presence of asbestos. At least you will know that the testing was done securely, properly, and without any risk to you.

If you suspect that asbestos is present in your home or business, contact Progressive Environmental Solutions now and put your mind at ease.