Asbestos, if disturbed or crumbling is one of the more dangerous of building materials.
Asbestos was used in building materials such as roofing tiles, ceiling tiles, floor tiles, brake pads, and insulation. It is possible as many as 80 percent of all buildings including hospitals or schools contain asbestos.
When does asbestos become a problem?
Asbestos becomes a problem when asbestos is friable, which means that the asbestos is easily crumbled by hand, releasing fibers into the air. Some asbestos products such as floor tiles are not a problem, but asbestos insulation, asbestos roofing, and other products are a huge problem.
The tiny fibers of asbestos get into the lungs and cause cancer. Nearly 107,000 people die per year from asbestos cancers, and over 55 countries have banned the use of asbestos products.
So how do you test for asbestos?
Asbestos is not easily recognized due to the small fiber size of the material. In order to test, samples must be taken and then sent to a lab where they will be examined under a microscope. The testing follows EPA 600 guidelines and involves using polarized light.
Samples for asbestos testing should be in an airtight bag such as the use of a larger and a smaller ziplock bag for double protection both from the air and from the samples escaping.
The folks who test the samples will be wearing a respirator.
You need a sufficient size sample as well. In general, a couple of squares, or a couple full of teaspoonfuls is often sufficient.
When collecting samples, a respirator should be worn.