How to Safely and Effectively Test for Asbestos

how to test for asbestos


Asbestos, formerly prized for its heat resistance, is now considered dangerous. ACMs may be on your property if it was built before 1980. Inhaling asbestos fibers during deterioration or renovation might cause serious respiratory problems. To ensure the safety of your home or workplace, it’s crucial to understand how to test for asbestos accurately and efficiently. Brick Kicker helps you with that through this detailed blog.

In this blog, we will understand asbestos air quality testing, the types of asbestos tests, and their benefits. Moreover, we also discuss how to test for asbestos at home. So let’s get started without further ado:

Understanding Asbestos Air Quality Testing

Asbestos air quality testing is a critical process that assesses the presence of airborne asbestos fibers. This testing is particularly important for properties where ACMs are present or suspected. By monitoring the air quality, you can gauge the potential health risks associated with asbestos exposure and take the necessary measures to safeguard your family or colleagues. Here’s an overview of the asbestos air quality testing process:


A certified asbestos inspector or industrial hygienist will conduct the air quality testing. They will carefully select sample locations based on factors such as the type of building materials, potential sources of asbestos disturbance, and ventilation patterns.

Air Pump and Filter

The testing professional will use an air sampling pump designed to draw a measured volume of air through a filter. The filter collects airborne particles, including asbestos fibers, during the testing period.


Depending on the testing’s purpose, regulations or industry standards frequently specify the sampling time, which typically ranges from 1 to 8 hours.


Before and after sampling, the air pump is calibrated to ensure an accurate measurement of air volume.

Laboratory Analysis

Once the air samples are collected, they are sent to a certified laboratory for analysis. Microscopes are used to count and identify asbestos fibers present on the filter. The laboratory will report the concentration of asbestos fibers detected, usually expressed in fibers per cubic centimeter (f/cc) or fibers per liter (f/L).


The results are interpreted based on applicable regulations and guidelines. In many countries, specific exposure limits for asbestos have been established, and results are compared against these limits to determine if the air quality is safe.


After analysis, the testing company or inspector provides a detailed report of the findings. If elevated asbestos levels are detected, appropriate actions, such as remediation or containment, may be recommended to reduce exposure risks.

Types of Asbestos Test

Asbestos testing varies depending on the situation. Each test has a particular purpose and detects asbestos-containing compounds (ACMs) in different materials or surroundings. Here are some common types of asbestos tests:

Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM)

PLM is the most common and traditional method used to identify asbestos fibers. It entails examining a sample of insulation or flooring under a microscope with polarized light. This test detects asbestos and its type.

Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM)

TEM is a more sensitive and advanced method of asbestos analysis. It is used to accurately identify and quantify extremely small asbestos fibers in air samples, dust, and bulk materials. TEM is often preferred when very low asbestos concentrations need to be detected.

Phase Contrast Microscopy (PCM)

PCM is another method used to analyze asbestos fibers in air samples. It is less precise than TEM but is still effective for determining airborne asbestos concentrations. PCM is commonly used for regulatory compliance air monitoring.

Bulk Material Analysis

This requires submitting insulation, tile, and siding samples to a lab for testing. The lab will employ PLM or other technologies to detect asbestos and its concentration.

Air Quality Testing

As mentioned earlier, air quality testing involves collecting air samples from a specific environment to measure the concentration of airborne asbestos fibers. PCM or TEM methods are used for air quality testing.

Soil Testing

This test detects asbestos-contaminated soil via erosion or purposeful disposal. Labs collect and analyze samples.

Water Testing

Water sources, such as drinking water or wastewater, can sometimes become contaminated with asbestos fibers. Water samples are collected and analyzed to detect asbestos presence.

Asbestos in Dust Wipe Testing 

Dust wipe testing is used to check for the presence of settled asbestos dust on surfaces. Wipe samples are collected and analyzed in the laboratory.

How to Test for Asbestos at Home

While professional asbestos testing is the most reliable option, some homeowners may prefer to perform the initial tests themselves. Here’s a step-by-step guide for testing asbestos at home:

Safety Precautions

Before starting any testing, it’s vital to prioritize safety. Wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) such as a mask, gloves, and goggles to minimize exposure to potential asbestos fibers.

Identify Suspected Materials

Make a list of materials in your home that could potentially contain asbestos, such as insulation, vinyl floor tiles, roofing shingles, popcorn ceilings, or pipe insulation.

Gather Samples

Carefully collect small samples from each suspected material using a utility knife. Place the samples in separate, airtight containers to avoid cross-contamination.

Label and Send Samples

Label each container clearly with the source of the sample and its location. Contact a certified laboratory that specializes in asbestos testing to send the samples for analysis.

Await Results

The laboratory will conduct thorough tests on the samples and provide you with a detailed report indicating the presence and concentration of asbestos in each material.

Benefits of The Asbestos Test

The benefits of asbestos testing are numerous and essential for maintaining a safe and healthy living or working environment. Here are some key advantages to conducting asbestos tests:

Identification of Asbestos Presence

Asbestos testing helps confirm the presence of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) in a building. This identification is crucial because asbestos fibers are often microscopic and cannot be detected visually. Knowing whether asbestos is present or not allows you to take appropriate actions to manage the risks associated with it.

Risk Assessment and Management

Once asbestos is identified through testing, a risk assessment can be conducted to evaluate the potential hazards it poses. By understanding the extent of asbestos contamination and the condition of the materials, you can implement effective management strategies to minimize exposure and prevent fiber release into the air.

Health Protection

Airborne asbestos fibers cause asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. Asbestos testing provides air quality and asbestos fiber levels to safeguard residents and employees.

Regulatory Compliance

In many regions, there are strict regulations regarding the management and handling of asbestos in buildings. Asbestos testing ensures compliance with these regulations, which often require regular inspections and assessments in certain situations, such as before renovations or demolitions.

Safe Renovation and Demolition

Before any renovation or demolition work, it is crucial to know if asbestos is present in the building. Disturbing asbestos-containing materials without proper precautions can release hazardous fibers into the air, endangering everyone nearby. Asbestos testing helps plan these activities safely and prevents accidental exposure.

Property Valuation and Insurance

Having an asbestos-free report can positively impact property valuation and may make it more attractive to potential buyers or tenants. Additionally, some insurance companies may require proof of asbestos testing before providing coverage, as they want to ensure that the property is safe and not a liability.

Long-Term Cost Savings

While asbestos testing incurs an initial cost, it can lead to long-term cost savings. By addressing asbestos issues proactively, you can prevent more extensive contamination and costly remediation efforts in the future.

Professional Guidance

Engaging certified asbestos testing professionals ensures that the assessment is conducted accurately and reliably. They have the expertise, experience, and specialized equipment to perform the testing safely and provide precise results.


Maintaining safety requires asbestos air quality testing. Asbestos testing can help you protect yourself and others from its health concerns. Safety comes first, so consult professionals if you’re unsure how to test for asbestos at home.