There are many ways to test for the presence of asbestos in a home. Although there are home kits available on the market that test for the presence of asbestos in certain materials, the extremely hazardous nature of asbestos indicates that an equally extreme degree of caution should be used when its presence is suspected. Read on to learn more about testing for the presence of asbestos in the home or workplace.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring material that is prevalent throughout the air, water and soil of our natural environment. Due to its natural heat- and fire-resistant properties, asbestos was used in the construction of buildings and the manufacturing of myriads of common materials such as clothes and adhesives until it was banned for such use by the EPA in 1989. A later court decision allowed for the use of small quantities of asbestos in some materials, but its concentration is still highly regulated.
When the presence of asbestos is suspected in any area, it is essential that the material is not disturbed in any way, when possible. The main danger presented by asbestos is the inhalation of airborne asbestos particles. Because asbestos particles are microscopic in size, they can quickly become airborne when disturbed, endangering everyone nearby, including those outside of the building in question. Instead of disturbing the material, even to remove a small sample for testing, it is highly recommended that an accredited asbestos testing professional be contacted in order to test the suspected area without endangering the building's occupants.
A material that is suspected to be asbestos cannot be identified simply by looking at it. Instead, a sample must be taken of the material, which will then be examined using a polarized light microscope to determine its nature. Although there are many people and organizations who claim to be able to identify asbestos without paying for an expensive sampling and lab testing, the only people recommended by the EPA for asbestos testing are those organizations who are accredited and licensed to do so.
Although there are general contractors available who specialize in the testing of asbestos, it is strongly recommended that the company or companies selected for asbestos testing be in no way associated with an asbestos removal company. There are many neutral asbestos testers available to choose from who have been trained or certified by the EPA, and the selection of a neutral tester can alleviate any suspicion of fraudulent results.
If the presence of asbestos is suspected in the home, the homeowner should seriously consider having an accredited asbestos tester come to the area in question to make an assessment. Often, a neutral tester will simply recommend leaving the area undisturbed if it is in an isolated portion of the home, but in the event that the asbestos is located near circulating air or other types of exposure, the homeowner is liable not only for the occupants of the home itself, but also for any nearby residents who might be at risk. When dealing with substances as hazardous as asbestos, it is always better to err on the side of caution.