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How to Test Air for Asbestos

By Richard Bonilla ; Updated July 27, 2017

Asbestos is a fiber material used for its strength and resistance to heat. Asbestos materials release microscopic fibers into the air that when inhaled scar the lungs. When exposed to asbestos for extend periods, victims will begin to have shortness of breath and dry, crackling breathing. Testing for asbestos requires taking samples of suspected materials containing asbestos, not testing the air quality. Only laboratory tests can check if your household or work environment contains asbestos.

Shut off any ventilation systems. Before taking an asbestos sample, all ventilation systems must be turned off to prevent asbestos from entering the air.

Place a plastic sheet below the suspected material. When taking a sample of the suspected material, the plastic sheet will serve as an area for asbestos residue to fall on.

Apply water and detergent to the suspected material. This reduces the amount of fibers released into the air.

Cut a piece of the suspected material. using a small saw or cutting tool. Cut "the entire depth of the material" and place the sampled material inside a container.

Dispose of the plastic sheet, with help from your waste management agency. After cutting the sample, asbestos residue will be left on the sheet.

Send the sample material to an accredited asbestos laboratory. Asbestos laboratories have microscopes strong enough to detect asbestos fibers in materials.


Look at the Environmental and Protection Agency list of materials containing asbestos. It is difficult to know which household materials contain asbestos unless tested.

You may also pay a licensed asbestos inspector to take asbestos samples and check for material. Ensure that the inspector is certified to check for asbestos.


Exercise caution when taking an asbestos sample by wearing gloves and face mask to minimize asbestos contact.

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