Leaving asbestos within your property can, as you likely know, cause a whole host of problems including lung diseases such as Asbestosis, mesothelioma or various other cancers.
Often the best and safest course of action is to call a professional to visit your property, identify and clear the asbestos from the building. There is however, one alternative to identify Asbestos in your property, A DIY Asbestos Test Kit.
Carrying out your own asbestos test will let you detect the material early, so that you can call in the experts to remove the asbestos quickly and safely. While these are not completely DIY as you require lab analysis (which is likely a skill most of us lack), a large amount of the leg work will be conducted by yourself.
Below we will detail how this test works, the benefits and any drawbacks of the test itself, along with additional information you need to consider before conducting a DIY asbestos test!
What Is In The Kit & How Do I Carry Out A Test?
A test for asbestos works as a two step process. Collecting the sample, and then testing the sample.
There are a few items of equipment that will be included in these DIY asbestos kits. Often this will include the appropriate PPE (disposable gloves, overalls, safety glasses and a face mask), sample bags, packaging and cleaning wipes.
This equipment will allow you to take a sample of any material that you suspect to be containing asbestos (ACM). Details on how to collect this sample are in the section below.
When this sample has been gathered you will then need to send the findings off to a laboratory.
The results from the lab often take between 1 to 2 weeks to be determined. You will then be given either a positive or negative result. If negative you will not need to act, but a positive result will need you may want to consult with a professional as soon as possible to ensure your property is safe.
Where might Asbestos be?
Asbestos can be hiding in many unsuspecting places on your property. Many older buildings, including homes and commercial premises, may have asbestos lurking somewhere you may not suspect.
From your walls to the roof, there are several locations where asbestos can be discovered. These include: Floor Tiles, Roofing Tiles, Wallboards, Pipe Cement, Heating Pipe Insulation, Ceiling Cavity Insulation and More.
How To Collect The Sample
Firstly it is very important to stress that the protective equipment supplied in your kit is all worn correctly. These are supplied to ensure your safety and should be used at all times through the process.
There are 2 types of samples that you may need to gather. The process for gathering these differ slightly.
For Solid Samples – cut out a small sample of the material (ensuring all appropriate PPE is worn). You will need to then place this in the sample bag provided, seal it, and then send the sample off to the laboratory.
For Dust Samples – gather as much of the dust sample as possible, up to 1 teaspoon worth for a sample. If this cannot be achieved use a damp tissue to gather the dust and enclose this tissue in the provided sample bag.
Once the sample has been taken it is important to ensure that loose asbestos fibres are kept out of the air. You can do this by mixing together a tablespoon of washing up liquid with cool water in a spray bottle and carefully spray down the area.
The Benefits and Drawbacks of a DIY Asbestos Test
Before deciding to conduct a test for asbestos yourself, you should consider the pros and cons to the process. Below we have outlined the main positives and drawbacks to conducting the DIY asbestos test.
- These kits are often relatively cheap
- Provide an option to test for Asbestos where there are no local professionals in your area
- Easy to obtain a testing kit online or from home improvement stores
- Gives you answers for your property without the need to pay hourly rates for a specialised contractor
- The lab fees can mount up if not originally included within your testing kit. Sometimes this can mount up to the same cost as it would to call a professional.
- Products containing asbestos often are not dangerous unless they are disturbed or damaged. A test will involve disturbing the material, which is against the advice of the National Asbestos Helpline, who recommend to leave ACMs be, avoiding causing any damage.
- It is much better to leave asbestos testing to professionals who are fully equipped and highly experienced at dealing with this harmful material.
Where Can I pick up a test?
Asbestos kits are often very low cost and can be found in many home improvement stores either directly in the store or over the internet. Some can even be found on Amazon, although always check the source and review history of the seller.
The price for these kits can range anywhere from £20 to in excess of £100. You should check carefully what is included within the kit you are purchasing. Some of these do not cover laboratory fees for the lab analysis. Purchasing one of these will often require you to pay a larger fee for this lab analysis.
It is also important to consider whether a prepaid mailer is included in the testing kit, if not then there will also be an additional fee to send off your sample.
Another factor that may impact the price you pay for a test is the type of sample. If the only samples you can gather are dust fragments, this will often increase the cost of the lab testing (sometimes 3 times more expensive). This is because the dust sampling requires an electronic microscope to analyse the sample.
Hopefully this guide has shed more light on the process of a DIY asbestos test. This is a possible alternative to ensure that you have clarity and knowledge of the materials that make up your home or work property.
It is recommended however, that you hire a professional. You can enquire with us, Smart Asbestos Solutions, by visiting our website or giving us a call on 07708 761540.
This will give you a more in depth survey of your property for asbestos. Using a specialist, you can rest assured that they will go through your property with a fine tooth comb to detect any ACM that is present.
This is by far the safer and more recommended approach when it comes to identifying Asbestos on your property.