Properly enclosed asbestos fibers are not a serious health risk. These fibers are potentially dangerous when disturbed and released into the air. When ingested or inhaled, asbestos fibers can cause life-threatening illnesses like lung cancer, gastrointestinal cancer, mesothelioma, pleural plaques, and asbestosis.
When disturbed, asbestos forms a dust of tiny fibers, 50-200 times thinner than a strand of human hair, that can remain airborne for extended periods. Asbestos fibers are usually invisible to the naked eye, hence difficult to identify from a visual inspection.
In general, asbestos-related diseases are a result of exposure to asbestos over an extended period. However, brief exposure is known to cause mesothelioma in some people. Unfortunately, the reason for this anomaly remains unknown; hence the importance of keeping exposure to a minimum.
What is an asbestos testing kit?
An asbestos testing kit contains essential equipment for collecting asbestos samples, as well as a certificate to have the sample tested in a laboratory. Asbestos testing kits do not let you test for asbestos by yourself. Instead, they allow you to collect asbestos samples, which plays an important part in managing asbestos. Apart from being easy to use, asbestos sampling kits are often the most cost-effective option.
What is included?
As mentioned above, an asbestos testing kit contains the equipment you require to collect, and then send asbestos samples for analysis safely. Most laboratories will analyze a sample within three days of receipt. It’s important to ensure the lab has been endorsed for analysis of asbestos. In this way, you are sure the laboratory uses methods approved by the country you reside in. We have complied a lsit of asbestos testing laboratories for the USA, UK and Australia. Here’s a list of what an asbestos testing kit includes:
- Easy to follow instructions
- Disposable coveralls
- One pair of disposable gloves
- A disposable single use face mask
- Cleaning wipes
- Extra thick plastic sheeting
- Labeled grip-lock plastic sample bags
- Extra thick asbestos waste bag
- Packaging to submit sample for analysis
Asbestos testing kits usually allow the collection of one sample for analysis. However, if you want more than one sample analyzed, you can always add additional reports and bags to your order, often at no extra cost.
How do I choose a kit?
If left unchecked, asbestos can cause a variety of health issues. Purchasing an asbestos testing kit is important because this mineral might be present in your home, especially if it was built anytime from the early 1900s to 1989. If you suspect that your house has asbestos-containing materials, you need to be sure. Although you can attain certainty with the help of an asbestos testing kit, there are many different types available on the market. Here are a few pointers to help you find the right asbestos testing kit.
To many, the adage you can’t put a price tag on your safety or peace of mind still rings true. But the same does not apply to others, especially not in these trying economic times. Asbestos testing kits are available at a price ranging from as little as $5 to as much as $100. It’s, however, notable that price does not mean quality. To ensure you don’t end up paying too much for an asbestos testing kit that might not work as well as you’d like it to, set a budget before you start shopping for one.
Since none of the health issues caused by asbestos occurs overnight, you’ll want to know right away whether your house is safe or not. As such, you need quick results.
Immediate results testing kit:
Although many asbestos testing kits offer immediate results, the results are not always as comprehensive as those provided by accredited laboratories. Additionally, you can only rely on yourself to perform the test correctly. In addition to the standard features of an asbestos testing kit, this type includes a sample pouch and a chemical agent. With an immediate results testing kit, you don’t have to send the sample to a lab for analysis. All you have to do is place the sample in the pouch, add the chemical to that pouch, and wait a few seconds. Apart from the fact that you have to make sure the kit is completely sterile, your ability to read and follow the instructions accurately determines the results.
Lab results testing kit:
Unlike immediate result testing kits, you won’t have the issue of inaccuracy with a kit that requires you to submit the sample to a lab. Once you have placed the sample inside a self-sealing container, you simply send it off inside the provided shipping pouch. However, you may incur a fee for the analysis.
You should never get an asbestos testing kit that requires you to use household items or one that has no expiration date detailed. Make sure what you get is fresh and includes everything you need.
What do I do once I get the kit?
Start by preparing the area to be tested. Below are the preparation steps to follow:
- Do not dust, clean, or vacuum the suspected area.
- Close off the area and make sure no one goes in or out during collection
- Turn off your air conditioning and ventilation systems
- Get everyone out of the home at least two hours before the testing
Once you have prepared the area to be tested, you can start the process of testing for asbestos. Here are the steps to follow:
- Spread and secure plastic sheeting below the designated area.
- Mist the area repeatedly. The presence of moisture helps to keep loose fibers from staying suspended in the air.
- Cut out a small section of the material to be tested.
- Use a plastic sheet, drywall, or tape to patch the indented area. In this way, you can keep the asbestos from spreading.
- Place the sample in a self-sealing container or double zip lock bag.
- Place the protective gear and clothing in a sealed plastic bag for proper disposal.
- Depending on the type of testing kit you got, you should either submit the sample to a lab for analysis or add the included chemical to the sample pouch and wait a few seconds.
Are there any alternatives?
As a matter of fact, there are alternative ways to test for asbestos. The first is to buy the equipment needed to perform the test on your own, which is, unfortunately, a lot riskier and illegal in most countries.
The second option is to engage the services of a certified and licensed professional to perform the initial test. Although this might be a little bit more expensive than using an asbestos testing kit, it is the safest and most reliable option.
Warnings about some kits
Since immediate results asbestos testing kits rely on the user’s ability to understand and follow instructions, they can be inaccurate. Factors such as the kit’s age and level of sterility can also affect the accuracy of an immediate results asbestos testing kit. Having the sample analyzed by any accredited laboratory is the only sure way to determine the presence of asbestos.
Although you can buy an asbestos testing kit at $5-100, price does not mean quality. Additionally, the average cost for a sample analysis is $30 $80. On the other hand, a professional asbestos inspection might cost between $200-$800, dependong on your location. The cost of repair or removal will depend on the work involved.
Although testing kits are popular, it is best to contact a professional if you suspect a material contains asbestos. If you feel confident taking the sample and sending it to a lab, buying an asbetos testing kit maybe the choice for you.
Asbestos is a health hazard only when the fibers become airborne. Because they will most likely release asbestos fibers into the air, you’ll want to look into removing or repairing any damaged asbestos-containing materials (ACMs). Compared to the likelihood of exposure from undisturbed but damaged asbestos, the risk of exposure during removal is significantly greater. Nevertheless, it’s imperative that you refrain from any do-it-yourself attempts to repair or remove asbestos. You must exercise caution around suspicious materials at all times.