Analytical Chemistry





Sarah May

Environmental Laboratory Supervisor

Asbestos is the name of a group of similar minerals with separable, long, and thin fibers. It is a natural mineral fiber that was used in in the past in products primarily because of its fire-retardant capability and strength. Asbestos has long been suspected as a health threat to humans, because the fibers can be inhaled and are difficult to remove from the lungs. Although the use of these products has dramatically decreased, they are still found in many residential and commercial settings and continue to pose a health risk to workers and others.

Where can asbestos be found?

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, materials found in homes that may contain asbestos include but are not limited to:

  1. Some roofing and siding shingles may be made of asbestos cement.
  2. Houses built between 1930 and 1950 may have asbestos insulation.
  3. Prior to 1977 asbestos may have been used in textured paint and patching compounds used for wall and ceiling joints.
  4. Artificial ashes and embers sold for use in gas-fired fireplaces
  5. Older products such as stove top pads
  6. Walls and floors around wood burning stoves may have been protected with asbestos paper, millboard or cement sheets.
  7. Vinyl floor tiles and backing on vinyl sheet flooring and adhesives
  8. Hot water and steam pipes in older homes may be coated with asbestos material, blanket or tape.
  9. Oil and coal furnaces and door gasket insulation

How are samples collected?

If possible, sampling should be conducted by a qualified professional as the process of sampling can result in an increased health risk if asbestos fibers are released. If you choose to collect the sample yourself, please observe the following steps:

Additional Resources

Last updated July 15, 2015