How to test the air after asbestos has been removed

Written by wilhelm schnotz
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How to test the air after asbestos has been removed
Old building materials may contain asbestos. (plumbing image by Inger Anne Hulbækdal from

Asbestos removal is a difficult process and, if not handled competently, it may stir up fibres and cause them to become airborne. Only a trained fibrologist using a high-powered microscope can definitively determine if airborne particles are asbestos or another form of fibre. However, home sampling kits can help you determine if further testing may be necessary.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Sampling canister
  • Polarised light microscope
  • Test kit

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  1. 1

    Using a sampling canister, draw a sample of air from the area you wish to test. Sampling canisters work by drawing a fixed amount of air through a filter.

  2. 2

    Examine collected particles under a polarised light microscope. A fibrologist's professional training is required to differentiate asbestos fibres from other airborne fibres.

  3. 3

    If asbestos is detected, calculate its concentration in the air. Under the microscope, count the number of asbestos particles caught on the filter. Using that number and the fixed sample size of air measured in Step 1, determine the number of particles per litre of air.

  4. 4

    Check concentration levels against EPA or OSHA standards.

  1. 1

    Draw an air sample into the canister provided in your test kit. Do not sample too much air and make sure to draw a full canister's worth.

  2. 2

    Package and send your sample to the address provided by the testing company. A fibrologist will examine your sample filter for traces of asbestos.

  3. 3

    Await results returned by mail.

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