Identifying asbestos is difficult because asbestos fibers are invisible to the naked eye. However, identifying asbestos is important because, once identified, asbestos abatement professionals can prevent asbestos from releasing its toxic fibers into the air.

What is Asbestos? 

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral useful for its durable, flexible, and virtually indestructible qualities. Strong, as well as heat and fire resistant, asbestos was thought to be an ideal material for construction and consumer products. Between the 1930s and the 1970s, asbestos was used to make:

  • building materials
  • fireproof insulation
  • clothing
  • household products

Today we know that asbestos containing materials can be dangerous. When asbestos containing materials are cut, damaged, or disturbed, asbestos fibers are released into the air. When airborne asbestos fibers are inhaled or ingested, they remain permanently lodged in the body, and may cause severe and fatal diseases, such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, or lung cancer. 

Steps to Identifying Asbestos

Identifying asbestos in suspected material is extremely dangerous and requires a trained professional. An asbestos identification professional must follow specific steps to ensure that the process of identifying asbestos is safely performed. The steps for identifying asbestos are as follows:

  • wetting the material using a fine water mist
  • penetrating the dampened material with a clean sample container
  • sealing and wiping off the container with a damp paper towel
  • labeling the container with an identification number
  • sending the sample to a laboratory

Identifying asbestos within a sample requires a special microscope because asbestos fibers are extremely small (an average human hair is approximately 1,200 times thicker than an asbestos fiber). Typically, professionals charge between $20 and $40 for identifying asbestos. 

Identifying Asbestos in Buildings and Products

Identifying asbestos in buildings and products can be accomplished by determining when the suspected building or product was created. Asbestos containing materials were extensively used in buildings and consumer products between the 1930s and 1980s. Consequently, buildings constructed before the 1980s very likely contain insulation, siding, pipes, and ceiling tiles made with asbestos. In addition, many products manufactured before 1989 (when the EPA banned manufacturing asbestos containing products) likely contain asbestos.

Information on Identifying Asbestos

If you would like more information about identifying asbestos, please contact our asbestos attorneys today.

Published November 17, 2011 by