Asbestos sampling and testing
The only way to be certain that something contains asbestos is to have a sample tested in a laboratory. Treat all suspected asbestos as asbestos until test results confirm otherwise.
All asbestos testing should be done by a National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accredited facility. NATA accreditation is formal recognition that the facility produces reliable technical results.
A list of NATA accredited facilities is available on the NATA website.
It is strongly recommended that you use a licensed professional to collect samples of suspected asbestos for testing.
If you must take samples yourself
Although not recommended, if you take a sample yourself, you must do it safely to make sure that you do not expose yourself or others to asbestos fibres.
If you must take a sample yourself, refer to the steps below or guidance material on the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency website:
Equipment you will need
- re-sealable plastic bags
- disposable coveralls
- waterproof sealant or PVA glue
- plastic drop sheets
- 200µm (0.2mm) thick plastic waste bag
- water spray bottle
- sticky tape
- P2 respirator and rubber gloves
- rags for clean up
The required equipment should be available at your local hardware store.
Step 1: Preparation
- Before taking a sample, find a NATA accredited laboratory. Ask for advice on how to transport your samples for testing.
- Shut down any heating or cooling systems to minimise the spread of any fibres.
- If you are inside, turn off any fans. If you are outside, make sure samples are not taken on a windy day.
- Make sure no one else is around when taking the sample.
Step 2: Taking the sample
- Wear disposable gloves, a P2 respirator and disposable coveralls.
- Lay down a plastic drop sheet to catch any loose material from the sample.
- Fill the water spray bottle with water and add a few drops of detergent.
- Use the spray bottle and set it to a fine mist to wet the material that you are taking a sample from, to reduce the release of fibres.
- Use the pliers to carefully cut a thumb-nail sized piece from the entire depth of the material that you are taking the sample from. Only take a small sample. Do not disturb the material any more than is needed.
- For fibre cement sheeting, take the sample from a corner edge, or along an existing hole or crack.
- Place the small piece into a re-sealable plastic bag. Double bag the sample and place a label in a clear position with the date, location and other useful information to the laboratory. Use a label that will not wash or fall off.
- Use a damp rag to clean up any material around the area that the sample was taken from.
- Wipe once with each rag before disposing as ACM.
Step 3: Cleaning up
- Seal the edges where the sample was taken by painting them with waterproof sealant (such as plastic paint or using a mixture of PVA glue and water with a ratio of 1:10)
- Wrap the plastic drop sheet and secure it with tape. Place this in a 200µm (0.2mm) thick plastic waste bag.
- Wipe down all tools and equipment used with a damp rag.
- Place the disposable gloves, coveralls, and damp rag into the plastic bag with the drop sheet and seal accordingly.
- Place the sealed bag inside another bag and seal.
- Mark the outer bag as containing asbestos waste and dispose it at a licensed asbestos waste facility.
- Only remove your respirator once the entire clean-up process has been completed.
- Shower and wash your hair, hands and fingernails to remove any residual fibres.
- Arrange for the transportation of samples to the laboratory as per the laboratory’s advice.