The Importance of Testing for Asbestos

“Do you think there is asbestos in this?”

People are normally looking for a simple yes-or-no answer when they ask us this. And even though it kills us, we normally can’t give it to them. Our response is usually something like this:

“Maybe, but you need to get it tested.”

Having material in your home or building tested for asbestos is the only way to know for sure. More importantly, it’s the only way to document the results to protect yourself. Here are 4 things reasons to call in a professional testing service.

Testing for asbestos is the law on all commercial properties.

Let’s get the easy one out of the way first. You must have any commercial property tested for asbestos prior to demolition or renovation, period. Straight from the EPA website:
“Any demolition or renovation operation at an institutional, commercial or industrial building is regulated by the Asbestos NESHAP. At a minimum, the thorough inspection requirement applies.”
Skipping this inspection could land property owners with serious fines, lawsuits, or worse. Even worse, both the EPA and OSHA could come after you if you proceed to skip testing and work with asbestos-related material without using the proper methods.

It could save you the cost of hiring an abatement company.

A big reason property owners are reluctant to hire testing companies is the cost. For an inspector to come out to your home and take samples could total several hundred dollars. However, that cost will usually be cheaper than the cost of hiring a company, like MESS, to remove it. Asbestos removal takes a high level of detail and uses expensive equipment. In the long run, getting your material tested could save you money.

Professional testing companies will give you an extensive report.

After a tester visits your home or property, they will give you a thorough report outlining what was sampled, what the results were, and what the recommendations for removal are. They may even have sketches of your home that show where samples were taken, with pictures of the material.

These surveys are invaluable. They can protect you when regulatory agencies ask about what work was done in your home. They can also be shared with abatement companies like MESS to make sure they know exactly what needs to be worked on.

When you don’t test you should assume.

On commercial or government properties, you must assume anything not tested contains asbestos (although you still need to have it tested).

In homes, it’s not required to have a hazardous material test, and it’s not even required to assume your material is hazardous. But you’re responsible for any potentially hazardous material present. Especially if your home was constructed prior to the 1980s (which is a whole separate subject), you should absolutely assume that it contains asbestos.

Finally, there are a few cases where it does make sense to assume rather than test. If you’re renovating a home built in 1947, the odds are overwhelmingly high that it was constructed with asbestos. The other scenario is when the cost of abatement is about the same as the cost of a test. Taking a single drywall out of your spare room, for example.
Other than that, test it!

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