Asbestos Inspection

Safety and exposure prevention

Asbestos is most dangerous if it becomes airborne such as from deterioration or damage. The people most at risk for exposure are those who are disturbing asbestos containing materials or those who clean up the disturbed material.


Common building materials containing asbestos


Today, in the United States, several thousand products manufactured and/or imported today still contain asbestos. In many parts of the industrialized world, particularly the European Union, asbestos was phased out of building products beginning in the 1970s with most of the remainder phased out by the 1980s. Even with an asbestos ban in place, however, asbestos may be found in many buildings that were built and/or renovated from the late 1800s through the present day.

Residential building materials containing asbestos include a variety of products, such as:

  • Stipple used in textured walls and ceilings

  • Drywall joint filler compound

  • Vermiculite

  • Vinyl floor tile

  • Vinyl sheet flooring

  • Window putty

  • Mastic

  • Cement board, millboard, and paper insulation around furnaces and wood stoves

  • Asbestos cement pipes and flues

  • Steam pipes, boilers, and furnace ducts

  • Furnace tape

  • Door gaskets in furnaces, wood stoves, and coal stoves

  • Artificial ashes and embers

  • Stucco

  • Roofing materials

  • Soundproofing Materials

  • Houses built between 1930 and 1950 may have asbestos insulation

  • Houses built before 1977 may have textured paint, patching compounds, and ceiling joints containing asbestos

Common symptoms of asbestos exposure

​In most cases, symptoms don't appear until about 20 years after exposure, but may appear anywhere from 10 to 40 years after exposure.

Common symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath

  • Tightness in chest

  • Chest pain

  • Persistent dry cough

  • Appetite loss

  • Finger clubbing, or enlarged fingertips

  • Nail deformities

What makes asbestos hazardous

Inhaled asbestos fibers become embedded in the lining of the lungs which leads to the formation of scar tissue. This process is known as asbestosis. This scarring can make breathing difficult by preventing the lungs from expanding and contracting naturally, and can reduce the usable surface area the lungs need to allow air into your body. Being a smoker increases your risk of asbestosis if you have been exposed to asbestos.​

Identification and assessment


A fiber cannot be identified or ruled out as asbestos, either using the naked eye or by simply looking at a fiber under a regular microscope. The most common methods of identifying asbestos fibers are by using polarized light microscopy (PLM) or transmission electron microscopy (TEM). PLM is less expensive, but TEM is more precise and can be used at lower concentrations of asbestos.

NWA Mold Inspector takes samples and sends them to a certified asbestos testing laboratory to be inspected for any present asbestos content. A report will be created from the information provided by the laboratory and will describe if removal and treatment is necessary and if so will include the proper remediation protocol for safe and effective removal of all contaminates. An example of a mold report can be found here.

If asbestos abatement is performed, completion of the abatement is verified using visual confirmation and may also involve air sampling. Air samples are typically analyzed using phase contrast microscopy (PCM). PCM involves counting fibers on a filter using a microscope, and is the standard for airborne occupational exposure limits for asbestos.

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May 18, 2020

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