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Asbestos Testing: A Precaution Step You Should Take
Knowing that we live side by side with the asbestos-containing material (ACM) should raise our awareness. Thus, it does no harm for you to have your house checked for this hazardous material. Having a certainty is surely much better than being left wondering whether or not your house was installed with ACMs.
It is an inevitable fact that most Australian houses contain ACMs. It began in the 1800s when commercial and industrial settings began to use friable ACM products extensively. The widespread use of this toxic material continued to residential buildings. Older houses built in the mid-1980s until late 1990 were also found being installed with this type of ACM. Those old houses were mostly installed with asbestos cement (AC) products. Mostly, the AC sheet products contain up to 15% of fibres.
Fibres may be identified in many building materials, including in:
- Exterior wall cladding
- Water pipes
- Backing material on floor tiles
- Insulation on hot water pipes and domestic heaters
Its durability, flexibility, affordability and insulation and fire resistance properties are among the many reasons why the construction industries prefer the ACM for building material before the late-1980s.
Good news came in December 2003 when the Australian government implemented a full ban on this product, including manufacture, import, use, reuse, store or sale. In spite of the ban, some buildings may still be installed with some fibrous materials. The incident, which took place in one of the hospitals in Perth, is a proof that even building built after the ban has the risk of being contaminated with fibrous materials. This means you cannot assume that houses built after 2003 are free from ACMs. Therefore, having awareness towards the ACM is important and taking a precaution is a wise move.
Finding and Identifying
It is a general fact that fibrous products can be found in almost every corner of your house. They can be found starting from your roof to your tile, from your bathroom until your garden.
Let’s spot where they can possibly be hiding in your house.
1. Bedroom, Study Room and Living Room
The materials are often detected in places, including:
- Ceilings boards and wall sheeting
- Internal walls and ceilings
- Carpet underlays
- Vents or chimneys to fireplaces
2. Bathroom and Kitchen
These two are the most frequent areas that undergo a renovation. Also, these are the places where ACMs are typically found in high concentrations. The areas include:
- Sheeting under floor tiles (ceramic or vinyl)
- Wall tiles backing
- Hot water piping
- Cement piping for fresh water supply or sewerage
3. Exterior and Backyard
Fibrous products are also possible to be identified outside of your house. The locations include:
- Lining under eaves
- Imitation brick cladding
- Flat, patterned and corrugated wall and roof sheeting
- Garden sheds
- Dog kennels
Read more: asbestos in your home
To identify the material, you need to test the object in a laboratory. It is very difficult to detect an ACM just by looking at it without using any specialised apparatus. The fibres are so thin and small that makes them impossible to be seen only with naked eyes. It has to be put under a microscope.
First Step: Identification or Survey
Identification or survey is the initial step before testing. The activity includes a thorough inspection of all rooms and spaces, cellars, shafts, storage areas, ceiling spaces and wall cavities.
Remember that all materials that are:
- Inaccessible and likely to contain an ACM
- Unsure whether it has fibrous products
Should always be treated as they contain fibres, or even better; get them tested.
There are three forms of Inspections:
- Presumptive inspection: The purpose of a presumptive inspection is to locate and assess all materials that contain dangerous fibres. The activity involves visual identification of suspected materials; without taking samples and getting them tested in a lab. You can save money by doing it since you don’t need to pay for the lab fee. However, if you intend to have a refurbishment and demolition project, it is not recommended to perform a presumptive inspection. You need to get your property checked thoroughly and got the samples tested in a lab. After the inspection, an assessor will give you an asbestos register that lists all identified ACMs on your property.
- Sampling inspection: It is similar to the presumptive survey. However, an assessor will collect samples to get them tested in a lab. By doing this type of survey, you will get a peace of mind and assurance knowing that your property is free from fibrous materials or not. If ACMs are found on your property, you should ask for recommendations from the assessor whether you need to remove the ACMs or not.
- Demolition inspection: If you’re planning to demolish your property, you must perform a demolition survey. It involves a visual identification and sampling of all accessible areas in a building. If you fail to perform it, you may get fines and charges.
For a valid result of the inspection, you are recommended to hire a licensed assessor since he has followed enough training for conducting these jobs – safely and efficiently.
Second Step: Asbestos Testing
The process includes sampling. Suspected materials will be collected and tested through a NATA accredited laboratory. The result will be documented in a report called the asbestos register. The report is important for the next process, which is to create a management plan.
How about DIY sampling?
It is important to take samples from the suspected material properly and in accordance with the regulations. It may look quite easy to be performed, yet you should be very careful could since you may cause fibres to become airborne.
Here are the basic precaution steps you can follow:
- Remember to use a P2 disposable mask when handling the suspected material. The mask is available at local hardware stores.
- Dampened the samples by spraying water to avoid the generation of fibres.
- Collect the samples carefully using pliers. Protect the inside edges with a wet wipe. Use disposable gloves during the process. The size of the samples should be 5 to 100g.
- Put the sample in a zip lock plastic bag including the wet wipe if you used one.
- Double the bag and label it with the date and location as well as a warning sticker.
- Get the samples tested via a NATA-accredited laboratory.
- After sampling, the damaged materials should be sealed with paint.
- Use a wet rag or paper towel to clean equipment, tools and the sampling area.
- Put the waste into a rubbish bag.
- Seal the plastic bag.
- Clean yourself thoroughly.
Clear Asbestos Removal
When you plan to do asbestos testing for your house, you are recommended to get a qualified removalist for the job. Clear Asbestos Removal is available to help you get connected with B-class licensed contractors that are the best in this field. We have been working with well-selected contractors that have obtained an accredited certification.
We know that safety is a major issue when it comes to handling products containing hazardous fibres. To minimise the health risk, our endorsed contractors will ensure that the working process will be performed according to the standard regulations.
The contractors we endorsed are available to provide four core services:
When hiring our members for asbestos testing, you can expect competitive prices for the services offered. Another benefit that you can get from hiring our member contractors is three free quotes to help you estimate the expenses.
Don’t let yourself be in an endless doubt. Take an immediate action to confirm the presence of fibrous products in your house. Check your house immediately. Get asbestos testing through our members and be wondering no more.
CITIES WE SERVEOur members serve several cities in Australia. Don’t worry if you don’t see your city listed below,you can select a city nearest to your location or just give us a call. We can still help.
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