How to Test for Asbestos in Building Materials: Certified Lab Process
If you suspect that a building material contains asbestos, you should have it tested by a certified laboratory. Here are the general steps for testing for asbestos:
- Identify the suspected material: If you’re unsure whether a material contains asbestos, try to identify it based on its age, condition, and visual characteristics. Common building materials that may contain asbestos include insulation, ceiling tiles, and flooring.
- Contact a certified asbestos testing laboratory: Look for a laboratory that is certified by the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). You can find a list of certified labs on the EPA website.
- Collect a sample: Use a small tool, such as a hammer or chisel, to remove a small sample of the material. Wear protective clothing, including gloves and a respirator, to avoid inhaling any asbestos fibers. Place the sample in a sealable plastic bag.
- Label the sample: Label the bag with the date, location, and a description of the material.
- Send the sample to the laboratory: Follow the laboratory’s instructions for mailing the sample. Most labs will require a small fee for testing.
- Wait for results: The laboratory will analyze the sample and send you a report indicating whether the material contains asbestos.
It’s important to note that disturbing asbestos-containing materials can release harmful fibers into the air, so it’s best to avoid handling or removing suspected asbestos materials yourself. Instead, consider hiring a professional asbestos abatement contractor to safely remove the material.