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Asbestos Sampling

Asbestos sampling and testing is the first step in finding out if asbestos is present in your commercial or domestic property.

Some asbestos containing materials are more simple to spot than others. However, the only way to know for sure, is to take a small sample and have it tested at an independent laboratory. Note that some materials may have been disguised by paint or other encapsulation methods so care should always be taken.

Merryhill are a fully UKAS accredited company for carrying out asbestos surveying, employing fully trained and competent people. Rest assured that all samples taken, are done so using appropriate control techniques to mitigate any potential spread of asbestos fibres. These control methods are in place whether an asbestos survey is being carried out just a simple one-off sample.

How are Asbestos Samples Taken?

The way in which asbestos samples are taken is different depending on the material.

Some materials are more dangerous than others, depending on how fibrous they are. Bonded asbestos products such as asbestos cement or vinyl floor tiles have a relatively low chance of releasing fibres, however should not be damaged by breaking, drilling, grinding, sanding or any other means which may create dust.

Control methods should always be used when taking asbestos samples, including the use of appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment) and RPE (respiratory protective equipment).

When taking a sample the surface should be appropriately wetted using a suitable surfactant. Doing this, will mitigate the release of any asbestos fibres. Once samples have been taken, the affect area should be sealed appropriately so that no raw edges are exposed.

It is recommended that samples are always taken by a suitably trained and competent person. All of our surveyors hold the industry-standard P402 qualification for asbestos surveys and bulk sampling. As part of our UKAS accreditation, our surveyors are also independently audited to ensure compliance and best-practice.

How is an Asbestos Sample Tested?

Once a sample has been taken, it will be double-bagged in sealed plastic envelopes and sent for laboratory testing.

When materials suspected to contain asbestos are sent to a laboratory, they are tested using Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM). This technique is the most popularly used method for identifying asbestos fibres within a sample. The light microscopy method uses the unique quality of polarised light to observe mineral-specific optical properties. PLM is able to differentiate asbestos fibres from non-asbestos elements. In addition, PLM enables the identity of the non-asbestos fibrous component to be recorded.

How do I find out Asbestos Sample Results?

Once a sample has been tested in a laboratory, the analysis results will be placed on to a fibre identification record report. For most UKAS accredited laboratories, the information contained on this report will include:

  • Where the sample was taken from
  • The date the sample was taken
  • The date the sample was analysed
  • The sample ID of the person / organisation who took the sample
  • An individual sample reference from the laboratory
  • Whether asbestos was positively identified or not
  • If asbestos was detected, then the type of asbestos fibre present

This report is usually supplied electronically in PDF format for convenience and speed.