How to Identify Asbestos Sheeting

Written by c.l. rease
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How to Identify Asbestos Sheeting
A dust mask protects you from loose asbestos particles. (ecologist in mask image by Alexey Klementiev from

Asbestos is a fire-resistant natural mineral fibre. The fire resistant nature of asbestos made it a mainstay as a cheap additive to construction materials. Asbestos was banned in all construction materials in the 1980s after tests concluded that asbestos fibres cause mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer. Without a label designating the material contains asbestos, the only way to identify asbestos in materials is to have a sample of the material tested by a licensed testing facility. Testing kits are available for the sample-taking process, but you need to have the sample tested by a laboratory.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Painter's plastic
  • Water-filled spray bottle
  • Utility knife
  • Dust mask
  • Asbestos testing kit

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  1. 1

    Look for a label or stamped marking on the sheeting designating the sheet as containing asbestos. If you find a label and the sheeting is in poor condition, call a certified asbestos abatement contractor to remove the asbestos sheeting from your home. Continue to the next step if you find no identification markings on the sheeting.

  2. 2

    Cover the floor in the area of the installed sheeting with painter's plastic.

  3. 3

    Wet a small area of the sheeting with water from a water-filled spray bottle. Wet an area larger than the size of the required sample.

  4. 4

    Slowly cut through the damp sheeting with a utility knife while wearing a dust mask. Do not cut into a dry section of sheeting. This will send loose particles of asbestos into the air.

  5. 5

    Seal the sample in a bag enclosed in the asbestos testing kit. Mail the sample to the listed testing facility and await the results of the asbestos testing.

Tips and warnings

  • Hire a professional asbestos testing company if you are uncomfortable gathering the sheeting sample yourself.

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