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.
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.
Cover the floor in the area of the installed sheeting with painter's plastic.
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.
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.
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.
Hire a professional asbestos testing company if you are uncomfortable gathering the sheeting sample yourself.
Tips and warnings
- Hire a professional asbestos testing company if you are uncomfortable gathering the sheeting sample yourself.