Safe Sampling of Asbestos-Containing Material

You cannot identify asbestos by looking at it. The only safe way to find out if material contains asbestos is to have a laboratory analyze a sample of the suspect material. Laboratories that do this work are usually listed in the Yellow Pages under "Laboratories - Analytical." Call the Southwest Clean Air Agency at 360-574-3058 to get more information on how to safely take a sample.

How to take a sample to send to a lab
  1. Wet down the material with a light water mist before taking the sample. This reduces the potential release of asbestos fibers.
  2. Do not disturb the material any more than is necessary to take a small sample.
  3. Place the sample in a clean, "air-tight" container such as a zip-lock bag or small glass jar.
  4. Seal the container tightly.
  5. Use a damp paper towel to clean up any material on the outside of the container or that might have spilled onto the floor. NEVER USE A VACUUM TO CLEAN UP ASBESTOS.
  6. Clearly label the container, stating where and when the sample was taken.
  7. Send or take the sample to a laboratory for analyses. Make sure to take one sample for each different type of suspect material.

Handling Asbestos-Containing Materials in your home

If the asbestos-containing material is NOT broken, worn, damaged or disturbed, it poses little or no danger. Asbestos removal involves disturbing the material and possibly putting asbestos into the air. Leaving asbestos containing material intact is often a safer option.

You may repair or remove asbestos in a house you own and live in. However, SWCAA strongly recommends that you not repair or remove asbestos-containing materials yourself. Removing asbestos requires special equipment and detailed training. More importantly, without proper equipment and training, an individual could cause asbestos fiber contamination throughout your home and neighborhood. Call SWCAA for more information and advice on the best way to handle asbestos repair or removal

If you live in the house and own it and intend on doing your own asbestos removal work, you are responsible for following all Removal and Demolition regulations and for submitting all necessary Notifications to SWCAA. Asbestos-containing waste requires special handling and disposal and must be deposited at a hazardous waste landfill (PDF) authorized to handle asbestos waste. Contact SWCAA for more information about special disposal requirements for asbestos waste.

If you intend to manage asbestos "in place," then be careful to not disturb sprayed-on acoustic or "popcorn" ceilings and some textured walls. If these materials have never been painted, a coat of sealant can be sprayed on with an airless sprayer to seal the surface. Do not use a brush or roller! Do not use a broom to sweep cobwebs off the textured surface. Remember, only an owner that lives in his own house can do asbestos removal from that house and a removal notification submitted to SWCAA is still necessary.