While you can do your own asbestos testing, it is considered safer and more accurate to hire a professional testing company to handle the test for you. Plus, under certain circumstances, you are not legally allowed to take samples yourself. Decide what you should do in your situation with our guide.
Taking Asbestos Samples: Legal Vs. Illegal
You can legally take samples for asbestos testing if:
- You live in a single family and;
- You own the home.
You cannot legally take samples for asbestos testing if:
- You rent the property from someone else
- You own a multi-family dwelling shared with other residents
Why You Shouldn’t Take Your Own Samples
Even if you find out that you are legal to take your own samples, the reality is that you are not trained and certified to do so. Sure, you can follow directions on a box, and you can take all the recommended safety precautions, but even in doing so, may represent a health risk to yourself and those who are in your home after the sample is collected.
The reality is: asbestos fibers are so small you definitely cannot see them with your own eyes. In fact, most microscopes can’t even see them! It takes special lenses and high powered microscopes to detect the presence of the material—so you won’t ever know for sure whether or not you contaminated your home or office when you took the same yourself.
Who Can Take Samples
If you do not own your home, the property owner can take samples on your behalf. Otherwise, only some asbestos contractors can take samples. To take samples, your contractor needs to be Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) certified before he or she can legally take samples.
Unless you’re using an instant read test—a test that claims to be able to provide instant results—chances are you’re sending your at home test to a lab for analysis. Sounds great, right? After all, the professionals use labs to read their results too. The difference is in the quality of the labs used to read the results.
When you hire a professional sample collection company or contractor, then you know you can trust the sample is being sent to a lab accredited for asbestos testing. With an at home kit, your sample does in fact go to a lab, but it may be one that does not specialize in reading asbestos results—and may not have the best equipment for reading the sample and developing the lab results.
Taking Your Own Samples
As long as you are legal to take your own samples, you are free to do so. However, if you choose to take your own samples, use all precautions to protect yourself and the other areas of your home to prevent the spread of fibers, should they exist in your home.
- Do not allow anyone else in the room when you’re sampling.
- Close off other areas of the home.
- Turn off heating and cooling systems.
- Wear gloves, eye protection, and a facemask to lessen the risk of coming in direct contact with the fibers.
- Use plastic to protect the flooring of the area being sampled.
- Moisten the area to be sampled to reduce the risk of fiber release.
- Don’t take more than you need to—disturb as little as possible.
- Patch the area with duct tape.
- Properly label and store the sample.
Remember that if the material is not disturbed, it will not represent any danger to your health. This means that unless you are doing some demolition and/or remodeling it is best to leave these materials alone.