G & L Consultancy Ltd offer asbestos testing by post for those who wish to take a sample themselves, rather than booking out one of our trained professional surveyors to take one for you. Sending asbestos samples by post can be a convenient and cost effective way of identifying the presence of asbestos in your household or workplace. These samples will be analysed in-house via our UKAS accredited laboratory, which enables us to deliver accurate results within 24 hours, if required.
We recommend that samples taken by non-asbestos trained individuals are limited to bonded materials such as: asbestos cement and bitumen products. Debris from fibrous materials may be sampled, as long as the debris is easily accessible, as this will limit the chance of the debris fibres becoming airborne.
If you are unsure whether the material you wish to sample is safe to do so, please do not hesitate to contact us. If it’s possible to send a photo of the material and location, that will help to determine the best course of action.
Contents of kit
Our bulk sampling kit, which can be posted to your address, contains the following items:
● 1 x Type 5/6 Cat 3 disposable coverall
● 12 x Sample bags (allow up to 6 samples to be taken)
● 1 x Large outer bag to collect all other samples ready for postage
● 1 x Jiffy (type) envelope (with 1st class stamp and addressed to the G&L Lab)
● 1 x Sample submission form (with up to 6 entries)
● 1 x Set of sampling instructions
How to take a sample
You should wear, at a minimum, a disposable P3 respirator mask. These can be bought cheaply in most hardware stores or online. You will also require two sealable transparent bags per sample taken and one sealable bag for waste. Disposable gloves and coveralls would also be advantageous.
The material that you wish to sample should be gently wetted down prior and during taking the sample, using a fine water sprayer, as long as it’s safe to do so. If the material is weak and brittle, you should be able to gently snap some off. However, for softer materials you will need to cut a small amount with a safety knife. Aim to take a sample about the size of a 50 pence piece.
Keep your sample bag close when taking the sample, to allow you to place it in straight away. Seal the bag and place it into another sealable bag, to double bag the sample. Clean any tools and bags you have used with a wet wipe, and dispose of the used wet wipes, p3 mask, and any other items you have used, into a separate sealable bag and mark it as waste. The waste bag can either be sent to us to dispose of, as it’ll be classed as asbestos waste, or if you live near a recycling centre that has an asbestos disposal skip, you can dispose of it there.
On the outer sealable bag please write the date, location, and your name, in permanent marker. Avoid using a ball point pen, to reduce the chance of piercing the bag.
If you wish to find out more information or to place an enquiry, please visit our Bulk Sample Analysis page.
Please note: G & L Consultancy Ltd recommend using a courier to send presumed asbestos containing materials.
Specific ACM sampling procedures
Spray coatings and bulk materials
If the coating is encapsulated, it can be pre-injected with liquid around the sampling area then carefully cut with a sharp knife or scalpel to lift a small flap to retrieve a sample. If the spray coating is not covered, both wetting (spraying surface and injection) and shadow vacuuming may be necessary to reduce airborne emissions. As spray coatings are generally homogeneous, a surface sample should suffice.
The area to be sampled should be fully wetted first: injection techniques are recommended. Samples are taken with a core sampler which should penetrate to the full depth of the pipe insulation. Proprietary types are available, but laboratory cork borers are also suitable. It should include a plunger to remove the sample from the borer. The sample point hole should be made safe after sampling (eg covered with tape or filled with a suitable inert filler), if the pipe is to remain in place and the surface was originally intact. This helps to keep the insulation in good condition and to prevent dispersal of asbestos. The borer should have a wet wipe pushed down to form a plug inside the borer and another wrapped around the outside. The borer is then used to take a full-depth sample of the insulation. The inner wet wipe is used to seal the surface of the insulation where the borer enters and disturbs the insulation. The outer wet wipe is used to clean the outside of the borer as it is withdrawn, and the contaminated wet wipe can be placed in the sample bag. The sample is removed by using the plunger to push the sample out into the polythene bag, complete with the wet wipe. Further cleaning will be required to completely clean the sampling equipment between samples.
An alternative approach is to use core sampling tubes in which the sample is retained. Again the core tube can be withdrawn through a wet wipe and then capped at both ends and placed in a bag until it reaches the laboratory. Chicken wire was often included within pipe insulation. This may hamper sampling, and a thin core sample may need to be taken. Where there is pipe insulation which is obviously new and non-asbestos, the possibility of debris from an earlier asbestos strip beneath the new insulation should be investigated.
Materials such as ceiling tiles or wall panels should be inspected for areas of existing damage, where a sample can be collected more easily. Otherwise, a small sample should be taken from a discrete location at the corner or edge of the panel, with a sharp knife or chisel blade to lever off a sample. Make sure that any paper, on one or both sides, is included.
Asbestos cement can usually be identified by visual inspection. Where sampling is necessary (eg to distinguish between AC and AIB), look for a damaged portion where it will be easier to remove a small sample (AC is usually very hard). The sample size should be about 5 cm2 as it will be necessary to search for traces of amphibole asbestos such as crocidolite and amosite. The sample should be obtained using pliers or a screwdriver blade to remove a small section from an edge or corner. Samples should not be collected from roofs without special safety precautions to prevent falls through the fragile sheets. If the analysis is still inconclusive (eg chrysotile and amosite are detected), then the definitive water absorption test should be conducted (the material will be classed as AC if it absorbs <30% water).
Gaskets, rope, seals, paper, felts and textiles
Samples can be taken using a sharp knife to cut a representative portion from the material.
Floor and wall coverings
Samples should be cut out with a sharp knife, usually taking one sample from tiles of each type or colour present. The area should be cleaned after sampling but the fibre release is likely to be very low, unless the asbestos is present as a lining or backing material.
Samples should be obtained by carefully scraping the coating with a screwdriver or narrow scraper, directing the material into the sample container held below the sampling point.
Personal air sampling can be carried out to measure the exposures of survey and sampling personnel. Occasionally there may be a request for ‘background’ air sampling if the ACMs are a matter of sensitivity to the occupants. Such requests need careful appraisal, as the area may already be contaminated, even before the bulk sampling is carried out. Air sampling may also be required where there has been intrusive sampling (eg in refurbishment or demolition surveys) and areas or buildings are to be reoccupied for a period before the work is carried out (see paragraphs 53–54). The procedures for reassurance air sampling as described in Asbestos: The analysts’ guide for sampling, analysis and clearance procedures should be used.
This sampling information is taken from HSG264 – Asbestos: The Survey Guide. Should you require any further safety guidance with the sampling of asbestos containing materials, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01823 443 898.