Asbestos testing by an accredited laboratory is the only way to determine if a material contains asbestos according to Asbestos Check .

There are two types of asbestos testing:

  • Bulk analysis testing or Fibre ID. This tests if a material contains asbestos and the type of asbestos detected; and
  • Asbestos air testing to determine the level of respirable fibres within the air.
Asbestos testing by bulk analysis or fibre identification (ID) is conducted by preparing material and viewing it under a microscope using Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM). Fibres within the matrix are viewed under different angles and within liquids of different refractive indexes to determine the type of asbestos that may be present. This form of asbestos testing is outlined in Australian Standard AS 4964, Method for the qualitative identification of asbestos in bulk sample.

Where the likelihood of asbestos material has been liberated into the air, asbestos air testing will quantify the level of potential exposure. Asbestos air pumps draw air and possible asbestos fibres through a cowl containing a cellulose membrane, whereby the filter is then mounted on a slide and viewed with a Phase Contrast Microscope (PCM). Only fibres of a certain size are considered to be harmful and specific fibre geometry is determined. Asbestos air testing is most commonly conducted when asbestos containing material is being removed.

Further information on asbestos testing can be obtained from Asbestos Check.