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Asbestos is a naturally occurring silicate mineral that was once believed to be safe for use in home construction. It was seen as a durable and effective form of insulation, but over time, it was discovered that asbestos breaks down into tiny fibers that float around in the home’s air. These fibers pose a serious health risk to anyone breathing them in and can lead to life-threatening illnesses like lung disease. If you are worried about the possibility of asbestos in your home, asbestos testing can help.
Asbestos testing typically costs between $250 and $750. Most homeowners pay $500 for an inspection and a physical sample asbestos test that is carried out by a professional. That said, prices can be as low as $40 for an off-site lab test and as high as $1,200 when using the air testing method.
|Asbestos Testing Cost|
|National average cost||$500|
Asbestos inspection and testing should be considered whenever you plan a renovation, remodeling, or DIY project where you may be exposed to asbestos fibers, such as installing new flooring or insulation, working with drywall, and fitting new ceiling tiles. The inspection usually includes asbestos testing and is used to determine in what areas testing is needed. Testing is vital for your health and the well-being of others in the area, especially in homes built before the 1990s. In some areas, it is a legal requirement when moving into a home built before the 1990s.
Suppose you are not planning a big DIY project, remodeling, or other work around the home that might disturb certain structures or materials containing asbestos. In that case, testing is less urgent and may not be necessary. Testing usually takes place during or after an inspection.
Many homeowners choose to have a survey done before any asbestos removal takes place. The survey process requires an accredited inspector to take samples of potentially harmful materials on the property and have them analyzed. They also generate the report that follows. The asbestos report cost will be included in the overall price of the survey and includes the dates of the survey, the inspector’s certifications and information, the building address, the owner’s name, a description of the area surveyed, the reason behind the survey, notations of any limitations, a table of all materials sampled, a recommended response action, and a copy of the lab report.
|Type of Survey||Average Cost (Labor Included)|
|Management||$200 - $800|
|Refurbishment/Demolition||$900 - $1,200|
Management surveys are needed during the normal occupation of a building known to have materials containing asbestos. The cost is between $200 and $800. This ensures no one gets hurt due to the exposure to asbestos-containing materials, that the materials stay in good condition, and that none of the asbestos is disturbed accidentally.
These surveys are needed when either renovating or taking down a building. This type of asbestos survey cost ranges from $900 to $1,200 to complete. You will need an accredited asbestos inspector to do the survey, which entails taking a bulk sample of the materials that are suspected to contain asbestos and then analyzing it before any construction begins. Since the beginning of 2021, it has been a requirement to analyze each sample in a lab that is a part of a nationally recognized accreditation or testing program.
In the past, asbestos testing was divided into two types: Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 tests were general surveys of a home where different surfaces and materials were checked for asbestos. Type 2 surveys were more specific, in which samples were collected from key areas around the home where asbestos was believed to be present.
Testing has evolved and taken on new forms, and the old Type 1 and 2 tests are typically not used. Today, homeowners have more options for testing their homes for asbestos. Asbestos testing costs vary depending on the type of test.
|Type of Testing||Average Cost (Labor Included)|
|Off-Site Lab Testing||$40 - $75|
|Dust Sample Testing||$120 - $180|
|Physical Sample||$250 - $750|
|Air Testing||$300 - $1,200|
Asbestos lab testing is one of the simplest and cheapest options you can choose. The lab report usually takes a week or two, costing around $40 to $75. For this testing, you typically use a DIY kit or collect a sample of a material you believe to contain asbestos. You place it into a bag and send it off to a lab for tests. Some labs offer an urgent service where you can get the results faster for a higher fee.
Dust sample testing is relatively expensive for asbestos testing, but it is simple to carry out. This testing costs between $120 and $180. For this test, either a professional or you collect a spoonful of settled dust from around your home, which is then sent off to a lab for analysis.
Physical sample asbestos tests are among the most common professional asbestos tests. Expect to pay around $250 to $750. A professional comes into your home, collects several physical samples, and then takes them back to a lab for analysis. They might scrape off part of a popcorn ceiling or take a sample from piping insulation.
Air testing is one of the most expensive kinds of asbestos testing. Due to the special equipment used, it costs more, ranging from $300 to $1,200. A professional takes air samples inside the home, collecting them into a special filter over a set period. The air particles are then examined under a powerful microscope to see if there are any signs of asbestos.
The time taken to carry out an asbestos test and get the lab results ranges from 24 hours to two or three weeks, depending on the service you choose. Many labs offer the option to speed up the survey and get the results back to you more quickly, but you will pay a higher price. In general, lab tests take about a week or two, so you should get the results of your asbestos test within 10 to 15 days of the initial testing.
If the testing comes back positive, an inspection will be carried out to identify the source of asbestos in your home, and then you need to remove it. Asbestos removal must be carried out professionally, costing from $400 to $500 per hour. However, the costs can be much higher, getting into the $10,000+ range if major home repairs are needed after removal, such as roof replacement. Generally, it is recommended to use different companies for testing, inspection, and removal because there may be a conflict of interest if the same company carries out all the work.
One of the issues with asbestos that makes testing for it so important is that it can hide all over the property, from the attic to the basement. It is typically located in vinyl flooring, popcorn ceilings, wallboards, sections of pipe cement, roof tiles or flashing, fire protection panels, drywall, thermal insulation around water heaters and boilers, heating pipe insulation, cement tile sidings, and ceiling cavities.
Asbestos was commonly used in housing construction for many decades up until the 1990s. It was especially popular from the 1930s to the 1950s. The older your home is, the more likely it will contain asbestos, and even some newer construction can contain asbestos. Along with the walls, ceilings, and floors, asbestos can also be found in old appliances, such as stoves, coffee pots, slow cookers, toasters, dishwashers, washing machines, and dryers. It can even be found in artificial ashes and embers used in gas-fired fireplaces, meaning there are many potential sources of asbestos in the typical home. Asbestos inspection and removal should always be left to professionals.
Many risks and dangers are associated with asbestos, especially if it is old or damaged and starts flaking away into the air. One of the worst parts of asbestos is that many homeowners do not notice it until it is too late because there are usually no initial symptoms. When inhaled into the lungs, the fibers lodge inside your body, which cannot break them down or remove them.
As explained by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), persistent inhalation of asbestos can lead to diseases like mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer. These diseases may take years to develop but can be fatal, causing respiratory damage, lung failure, heart failure, and other serious symptoms.
The ATSDR also explains that mild exposure to asbestos is far less risky. In general, the severity of the symptoms of exposure depends on how much asbestos is present, how long you were exposed, and what pre-existing health or respiratory conditions you have. For example, a healthy person who is only exposed to a little asbestos for a small amount of time will be much less likely to suffer than a heavy smoker with respiratory problems who is exposed to asbestos for a longer time.
Over the years, the use of asbestos in construction projects has changed due to the risks involved with the substance. Let’s go through a quick timeline of laws and regulations made by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), so you can better understand asbestos and its impact on the country throughout the last five decades or so.
Starting in 1973, the EPA banned the use of materials containing asbestos for fireproofing or insulating that were applied with a sprayer. Two years later, they also banned any pipe or block insulation for appliances like water tanks and boilers if the materials are pre-formed or wet-applied and friable. Two years after that, in 1977, the CPSC prohibited the use of asbestos in artificial fireplaces and wall patching materials. In 1978, the EPA banned any other sprayable materials using asbestos.
In 1986, the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act was introduced, requiring the National Institute of Standards and Technology to develop a new program for laboratories conducting asbestos sample analysis. The NIST keeps a list of all accredited asbestos testing labs. As we moved into 1990, the EPA went a step further to ban spray-on applications of any materials that contain more than 1% asbestos. This applied to buildings, pipes, and conduits. Finally, in 2019, the EPA issued a final rule to make sure that any discontinued asbestos products could not enter the market again without a thorough evaluation.
Asbestos samples can be completed in a matter of minutes, but you usually have to wait a week or two for the samples to be tested and analyzed in a lab. You can often pay extra for faster results.
Asbestos testing is highly accurate. However, you will get better results if you hire a professional rather than using a simple DIY kit or collecting samples yourself.
Short-term or one-off exposure to asbestos usually is not very harmful. Most diseases and conditions associated with asbestos develop gradually over many months or years of exposure.
No, asbestos cannot easily be washed out of clothes. Trying to do so may put you at risk of exposure. Specialized washing machines are required to treat asbestos-contaminated clothes. Your regular home machine is not strong enough. Therefore, any contaminated clothing should be disposed of in a suitable landfill.
There are two types of asbestos surveys: Management surveys and refurbishment/demolition surveys. Management surveys are needed in any building that is being occupied and will continue to be used. The process involves testing only the area that will be renovated. The survey costs between $200 and $800. As the name suggests, refurbishment and demolition surveys are needed when remodeling or demolishing a building, so the entire property needs to be surveyed. These cost between $900 and $1,200.