Asbestos Testing

Written by Jill Morrison
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Asbestos is a toxic substance that can cause several diseases and negative health effects for humans. Though its use has decreased over the years, it can still be found in some paper, plastic, construction, and packaging materials. Asbestos is most commonly found in dated building materials such as floor tiles, walls, sidings, and roof shingles. Asbestos materials that are intact and are in good condition may not be hazardous to health. However, if these materials can be scraped, broken, cracked, or sanded, airborne asbestos dust may cause health problems for those who inhale it.

Asbestos Testing Methods

Asbestos is primarily found in building materials such as roof shingles, walls, sidings, and flooring tiles. Older houses are the main culprits for housing asbestos materials. Because they can be harmful to health, new homes are not made from asbestos materials. However, some buildings continue to use products with asbestos. Asbestos fibers can only be seen under a microscope, so they cannot be detected by the naked eye. One way to detect whether or not asbestos is present is by looking for labeling on products or their packaging.

Those who wish to test products for asbestos can send samples to local certified laboratories. Testing results may be determined quickly by most laboratories. To make sure that test results are accurate, individuals should send in three separate samples to be tested. To find a certified laboratory, individuals may contact the EPA or may check their local Yellow Pages for the names of licensed contractors. The cost for testing is minimal and can be extremely beneficial in determining potential health hazards in homes and buildings.

Those who are not sure if they have been exposed to asbestos can partake in personal testing. Symptoms of asbestos poisoning include shortness of breath, coughing, and difficulty breathing. However, do not wait for these symptoms to occur if there is a possibility of asbestos exposure. Symptoms or diseases related to asbestos may take 15 to 40 years to show up. By visiting a doctor, asbestos exposure can be detected from samples of urine, feces, or mucus. Chest x-rays are also recommended. They can detect early signs of lung disease that may have been caused by asbestos inhalation.

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