If you think you may have discovered asbestos somewhere in your home, then you will need to have it checked quickly to see whether it really is asbestos and therefore poses a health risk to your family or whether you can relax knowing that you have found something harmless that you can remove or ignore at your leisure.
The problem is that asbestos isn't easy to identify and there is no way to make a definitive determination about whether or not a substance is asbestos on your own. Asbestos can take many forms and look very different depending on how it is being used. The three most likely types of asbestos for you to come across in Australia are 'white asbestos' (Chrysotile asbestos), 'brown asbestos' (Amosite asbestos), and 'blue asbestos' (Crocidolite asbestos).
Even in their pure form, these three types of asbestos can appear very different from each other, once they are mixed in with other material it generally isn't possible to tell with the naked eye whether or not asbestos is present in any given sample. To further complicate the issue, over the years many products that once contained asbestos have been replaced by nearly identical products that don't contain asbestos. If you don't know what you are dealing with, then it is always safer for asbestos testing to take place rather than ignoring the substance with potentially fatal consequences.
Arranging for asbestos testing
When you need asbestos testing, you must use the services of a properly accredited laboratory with professional equipment. Find an established laboratory that can receive a sample of the suspected asbestos and get the needed results back to you without delay.
Once the sample reaches the laboratory, it will need to be carefully examined. Checking for asbestos is a rigorous process that generally involves placing the samples under a PLM (Polarised Light Microscopy) microscope or using Dispersion Staining. The testing needs to be carried out by qualified staff who have been fully trained and know precisely what they are looking for. Asbestos is too dangerous to allow for mistakes, you must have confidence that the results you are given are entirely reliable.
What's the turnaround time?
Once you have possibly uncovered asbestos, it is important to take a sample and to get it analysed as quickly as you can. Look for an asbestos testing company that offers a rapid turnaround on samples. You can't afford to be waiting for a prolonged period of time with a potential health risk in your home. It is better to find out the truth so that you know how you need to respond to protect your family.