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What is an Asbestos Test?

By Ken Black
Updated May 16, 2024
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An asbestos test is a procedure that tests for the presence of asbestos in a building, or items within a building. This is done by taking a sample of the suspect material, and sending it to a laboratory. A lab tech then looks at the sample under a microscope to determine if asbestos fibers are present. The biggest expense in the process comes from collecting the samples. Therefore, those who do the collection themselves, and send a kit in can save a substantial amount of money.

In order to have a truly accurate asbestos test, it is necessary to take samples from common places where asbestos is most likely to be present. This includes the ceiling, where the "popcorn" used to give the ceiling texture could contain asbestos. The material was used in ceilings as late as the early 1980s. Asbestos can also be found in floor tiles, or even insulation. Those who are collecting should make sure to collect from all these locations. When collecting for an asbestos test, it is best to use a mask, as fibers breathed in have been known to cause lung cancer.

The results of an asbestos test from the lab usually do not take long to receive. In some cases, they may be e-mailed, or provided to a customer over the phone as soon as available. The discount asbestos kits usually inform customers of the results via normal mail. There may also be options for expedited service for those who need to know quickly. Asbestos tests are often ordered when time could be a very important consideration.

There are a number of reasons why an asbestos test may be ordered. The most common of those reasons is that there is a proposed transfer of property. The prospective buyer may want an asbestos test done as part of a conditional offer, or even before an offer is made. Anyone who is considering buying a property with asbestos could have an expensive eradication project ahead of them. This could be part of the negotiations with the seller. Environmental concerns are a big problem with any building purchase.

It should be noted that just because an asbestos test comes back negative, it does not necessarily mean that there is no asbestos in the home at all. It simply means there was none detected in the samples taken. Some may feel more comfortable if they were to take further samples for testing. Pre-purchased kits will have a limited number of samples that can be included with each test. Those who want more extensive testing may wish to consider a custom order.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By Drentel — On Oct 18, 2014

@Laotione - Removing asbestos or any materials that contain asbestos is a job that can be dangerous. That's why you see the professionals wearing all of that protective gear. Testing for asbestos is totally different from removing all of it.

As this article says, if you hire a professional to come out and do the test you will pay a considerable price. As long as you wear a mask and gloves and simple take a sample to send to a lab you are basically in no more danger than you are by being in the building in the first place. Wear the mask and don't breath in the fibers or the dust.

By Laotionne — On Oct 17, 2014

I watch the home improvement channel on TV, and some of the shows are about renovating old houses or old building. When the people are working in an old house and they suspect there might be asbestos, they call in professionals who are always wearing masks, hoods and full length protective suits to avoid getting asbestos exposure.

After seeing these people on TV, I would be afraid to try to remove the asbestos myself. They make it seem really dangerous to handle the materials containing the asbestos.

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