If you’re responsible for any building – domestic, commercial or otherwise – and believe there may be asbestos present in your property, what is the next course of action?

While many people may try and sample possible asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) with at home sampling kits, the safest and strongly advised option is to enlist the help of professional asbestos surveyors like ourselves.

Though asbestos sampling kits are available online for home testing purposes – there are numerous reasons why you should not endanger yourself or others in the vicinity by using them without the relevant training.

What are asbestos sampling kits?

While exact contents differ, asbestos sampling kits typically are comprised from the following:

  • Disposable gloves and coveralls (category 5 minimum – suitable for protection against airborne particles and fibres)
  • Safety glasses
  • Face mask (minimum 99 percent filtration – FFP3 suitable for environments with asbestos)
  • Sample bags and packaging
  • Cleaning wipes

But while that may sound like a convenient option to complete your asbestos sample testing, there are very serious health and safety factors to consider.

What are the risks of asbestos sampling kits?

The biggest risk associated with asbestos sample testing kits is the risk of exposure to asbestos fibres which can cause serious and long-lasting illnesses, such as Mesothelioma or Asbestosis. 

For example, face masks for asbestos sampling must be properly fitted. Asbestos surveyors undergo a face fitting to ensure the correct seal is achieved. Unlike shop-bought masks which are not properly conformed to your personal face, these professional face masks are essential for guaranteed safety when undertaking sampling. 

While you may be tempted to extract the samples yourself, they must then be sent by post to an accredited lab for expert asbestos analysis. This means that if you haven’t gathered and packaged the suspected ACMs precisely as required, you may be putting the deliverer or recipient in danger of asbestos exposure.

In addition, as many people using these asbestos sampling kits may have no previous professional training in asbestos sampling, the directions that accompany your kit may not be sufficient to guarantee absolute safety. Aside from the clear dangers associated with exposure to asbestos, there are other potential problems with asbestos sampling kits to consider:

Accuracy and reliability

Can you be certain that the sample you have sent for testing is representative of the rest of the materials within the building? If you receive confirmation that a sample doesn’t contain asbestos, this does not necessarily mean that the rest of the building is free of asbestos-containing materials. A trained and competent asbestos expert may be able to identify any asbestos-containing materials which a novice may not detect in the surveyed areas.

Aftercare and compliance

It isn’t illegal to take asbestos samples yourself for testing, but your legal responsibilities and duty-of-care to others may be far-reaching, possibly for years to come. Any future tradesperson, inspector, resident or other occupant of the building you’ve taken samples from must be guaranteed safety following your work.

As a non-professional, can you be sure that the area you’ve taken samples from has been sealed off safely and compliantly? It’s important to remember the strict regulations covering the correct removal and disposal of any safety equipment/PPE worn or used during the asbestos sample testing process too.

Should you use an asbestos sampling kit?

In our opinion, while they may seem good value, asbestos sampling kits are definitely not worth the potential health risks to yourself or your building’s occupants.

Additionally, the prospect of any financial or legal consequences is enough reason to rely on professional asbestos surveyors like ourselves to compliantly and safely handle the sampling of any ACMs. 

At Pillars Environmental, we only ever use the most trusted UKAS-accredited labs for our asbestos sample testing and you can rest assured we take all necessary health and safety precautions when taking asbestos samples.

We offer free and accurate quotes for our asbestos sampling services – get in touch with our friendly team today to find out more!