Asbestos Testing

Asbestos is a natural mineral that is found in some building materials, and is known to be a hazardous carcinogen. Building owners and contractors must perform testing or site surveys prior to disturbing or demolishing a building or building materials that may contain asbestos. Although most people are aware of the potential for asbestos content in pipe insulation, 9×9 floor tile, transite siding, and floor mastic; any building material that is not made of wood, metal, or glass may contain asbestos. An AHERA accredited inspector will help you to determine the appropriate sampling plan and protocol to ensure that you protect yourself from health impacts and liabilities, without wasting money on abating unnecessary materials. I would be happy to discuss your project specifics and come up with a plan that satisfies the legal and health obligations without excessive costs and fees.

When you need an asbestos inspection:

Any time you are remodeling, demolishing, repairing or otherwise disturbing materials that may contain asbestos, an asbestos inspection is required. Asbestos is not illegal in other countries and can even be in modern building supplies. Therefore, inspections need to be performed even before newer building materials are disturbed. A qualified AHERA inspector can help to limit abatement costs and provide a thorough report that will get the project done safely and within all relevant laws and regulation. Please note the floor-plan, and description of all suspect materials. If you contractor simply looks around, takes a few samples, and sends you a lab report you are not getting your money’s worth.


A good survey will include floor-plans with the locations of all suspect materials clearly labeled. This takes time, but is invaluable to the client. With this detailed information it is easy to get pricing on abatement and walk regulators through the project.


Any samples taken of a suspect material should be taken in either 3, 5, or 7 samples for each material. An accredited lab will read the results and anything over 1% asbestos is considered asbestos containing. A good report will list all of the samples tested weather positive or negative.

Asbestos Air Monitoring

Many clients become concerned that asbestos fibers or asbestos containing dust may be present in their buildings. This dust may be due to damaged materials that contain asbestos, left-over from an abatement project, or created by remodeling or demolition work. When these concerns arise, we are often asked to perform asbestos air sampling or asbestos monitoring. Below you will find some general information about how these services can be performed.

Types of air testing for asbestos fibers

Asbestos fibers in air are generally tested by one of two methods, either PCM (phase contrast microscopy) or TEM (transmission electron microscopy). These two methods are drastically different, and should be understood before the testing begins.

Phase contrast microscopy (PCM) is a method that measures only the total number of fibers in the air and does not differentiate between asbestos and other types of fibers. Additionally, PCM testing does not measure the smallest fibers and can miss significant asbestos hazards

Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) is a method that captures even very fine fibers and reports only on those that are asbestos fibers. This method allows us to truly assess the hazards that may be present due to asbestos fibers in the air.

How are asbestos air samples collected?

Asbestos fibers may be floating in the air, settled in dust, or blown around by the HVAC system. For this reason it is important to understand what we are concerned with and to choose our sampling strategy accordingly. In general, our clients are calling for asbestos air sampling due to a known or potential fiber release in their home, office, or facility. To properly assess this matter we employ a version of the AHERA clearance testing methodology. We purposefully aerosolize the dust in the building, keep it moving throughout the testing period, and collect 8 hour long air samples. These samples are analyzed via TEM (transmission electron microscopy) and the levels are assessed based on the AHERA clearance guidelines.