What Is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a broad term used for naturally occurring minerals that easily separate into long flexible fibers. These minerals create strong, incombustible, and heat-resistant fabric and building materials.
Is Asbestos Dangerous?
During the 1970s, asbestos became a health hazard. Prolonged exposure to asbestos fibers caused several medical problems. Diseases associated with asbestos exposure are as follows: asbestosis (lung scarring), mesothelioma (malignant tumor), lung cancer, and other respiratory diseases. Due to its harmful effects, in 1989, the United States government gradually banned the manufacture and use of asbestos products.
What Are Asbestos Sampling Kits?
Asbestos sampling kits help you to determine the presence of asbestos. Currently, there are two typical sampling kits available in the market.
The first kit includes the apparatus needed to safely take samples of any suspected asbestos-containing materials (ACMs). An accredited laboratory would test the collected samples. They would determine whether these samples have asbestos.
The second kit lets you do the entire testing process yourself. The kit includes a chemical agent that you would apply to any suspected asbestos-containing materials (ACMs). Then, refer to the manual provided to determine the results.
The apparatus included would vary depending on the manufacturer. A kit would commonly have the following materials:
- Disposable coveralls
- Disposable gloves
- Safety glasses
- Face mask
- Sample bags
- Cleaning wipes
- Chemical Agent (Included when you opt to do the entire testing process yourself)
How To Safely Collect Asbestos Samples?
Do the following when collecting asbestos samples:
- Turn off any heating, ventilation, and air conditioning units to prevent the circulation of asbestos fibers.
- Completely seal off the area where the sample is taken. This prevents airborne fibers from sticking to any material (furniture or clothing).
- Use the protective wear provided (coveralls, gloves, glasses, and mask).
- The collected sample must be placed in a labeled, leak-tight container.
- After collecting the sample, make sure that the contaminated area is thoroughly cleaned. Use a damp cloth or cleaning wipes to clean up any asbestos residue or use a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter vacuum.
- Shower immediately right after obtaining the sample. Soiled clothes must be discarded.
How Reliable Are Asbestos Sampling Kits?
Do-it-yourself kits are not a hundred percent reliable nor safe. It would be hard to effectively collect samples if you have no previous experience dealing with asbestos. Hiring an experienced and certified surveyor is the way to go if you desire a hundred percent accuracy.
Should You Use A Do-It-Yourself Asbestos Sampling Kit?
If you are confident in your ability to rightfully identify the contaminated area and safely extract samples from the contaminated area, then using a do-it-yourself asbestos sampling kit would not pose any problems for you. However, if you doubt your ability to execute the sampling on your own, seeking professional help is strongly advised. Take note of the following before you decide to do-it-yourself:
- Untrained eyes cannot easily identify asbestos fibers. These fibers are usually part of a matrix of different materials. Due to inexperience, an amateur can extract a sample that does not contain any trace of asbestos.
- Exposure to asbestos fibers causes detrimental, long-term health problems. The face mask provided cannot fully protect you from being exposed to airborne asbestos fibers. The chance of inhaling asbestos fibers is still possible.
- Failure to correctly collect asbestos samples may cause them to become friable and airborne, increasing the chances of unintended inhalation. Moreover, these fibers can easily stick to furniture and clothing; thus, expanding the area of contamination.
No matter what route you chose to address your asbestos problem, do-it-yourself or professional, it is important to do it as soon as possible. The quicker the removal, the better.