Asbestos Testing in Building Material such as fibre cement, corrugated fibre cement material and vinyl tiles.
Envirolab Services offers an asbestos testing service that allows you to determine whether asbestos is present in any suspected materials, such as fibre cement, corrugated fibre cement material and vinyl tiles. This service is open to commercial and residential customers.
For more information and instructions on preparing a sample, download the Envirolab Services asbestos testing brochure. Alternatively, for general enquiries, ask us to see how we can help you.
There are precautions you should take before attempting to sample any material suspected of containing asbestos.
Disturbing loose fibrous insulation material that contains asbestos is extremely dangerous. It is highly recommended that sampling is carried out by qualified individuals.
Certain material type release asbestos fibres more readily when disturbed or broken. With this in mind, do not sample any material that looks like it might have a sprayed finish, particularly if it is insulating material on pipework, boilers or ceilings yourself.
- The types of materials that contain asbestos
- Where you might find asbestos in the home
- How to collect my asbestos sample for testing at Envirolab Services
- Choose my payment option
- Sending my sample to Envirolab for asbestos testing
- Receiving results for my sample
- What my sample results mean
- Contact us directly for more information on asbestos testing
Asbestos containing materials may be part of any commercial or domestic building built or refurbished prior to the prohibited use of asbestos containing material on December 31st 2003.
Asbestos can be found in the following types of building and construction materials:
Asbestos cement products (pipes, flues and roofs)
Being electrically non-conductive, waterproof and fireproof, asbestos cement has been used on industrial and domestic building roofs and walls.
Cement products containing asbestos can also be found as panels around flue pipes of boiler systems, air conditioning and ventilation systems.
Asbestos fibre cement material, which closely resembles typical plasterboard
Referred to as asbestos insulating board (AIB) or by its trading name, "Asbestolux," this material closely resembles a typical plasterboard and is sometimes difficult to distinguish from non-asbestos material.
AIB is softer as a material, more porous and less dense than asbestos cement. For this reason, any renovation projects or other construction projects involving AIB can easily result in the release of asbestos fibres.
In buildings, AIB had many uses and can be found in panelling around windows, cladding, ceiling tiles and soffit boards, which are boards under the roof that cover the ends of roof rafters. The use of asbestos in eaves and verandah ceilings also reduced the risk of fire spreading to neighbouring properties.
Lagging on heating systems (pipes, ovens and boilers)
Based on its heat insulating capabilities and fireproof properties, asbestos was extensively used for heating systems including boilers, fireplaces, heaters, ovens and other types of heating equipment.
The lagging and insulation used for heating equipment and pipes may also be made from asbestos containing material.
Water tanks and toilet cisterns
Particularly in older constructions, asbestos can be found in some toilet seats, toilet cisterns (tanks) and bath panels.
The waterproof properties of asbestos also made it very ideal for water storage tanks.
Asbestos electrical insulation boards
The fireproof and electrically non-conductive properties of asbestos meant it was an ideal material for the insulation of electrical materials. For instance, the use of Zelemite backing in electrical switchboards was common due to its heat and fire resistance.
Loose asbestos in ceiling and wall cavities
Loose or fluffy insulation material that on appearance looks like candy floss may contain asbestos that if disturbed, can release large amounts of fibres into the air.
Loose asbestos was commonly used in cavity walls and under floorboards as part of insulation.
Sprayed coatings on ceilings, walls, beams and columns
Due to its fireproof properties, asbestos containing spray coatings have been used in roof underlying, floor and ceiling voids, around firebreaks and structural supports, such as columns and beams.
Textured decorative coatings (Vermiculite and Artex)
Asbestos containing plaster has been used in ships and other constructions mainly because of fireproof and heat resistance properties.
Other asbestos containing materials including ‘spray-on’ Vermiculite and Artex have also been used as part of decorative plaster or paintwork on walls and ceilings.
There are many different types of flooring materials that contain asbestos, such as vinyl (PVC) or thermoplastic tiles.
In some instances, the vinyl sheeting itself might not contain asbestos. Rather, it might be the adhesive and the backing material (the side attached to the floor) used, which can contain asbestos since it was commonly added by manufacturers to provide 'cushioning' support to the flooring.
Exposure to asbestos from flooring that contains vinyl tiles in good condition is considered low. However, if the vinyl material is damaged or disturbed, there is a risk of exposure to asbestos fibres. Therefore, it is recommended to test for asbestos before any renovations are undertaken, so necessary precautions can be made to minimise exposure.
Paper products, cloth including fire blankets and bituminous products, such as roofing and felt
The fireproof properties of asbestos meant it was an ideal material used in the cloth of fire blankets and bituminous products including roofing felt.
Asbestos paper can be found in table pads, heat protective mats and gloves, heat and electrical insulation and underlying material, such as sheet flooring.
Mastics, sealants, rope seals, gaskets (in pipework) and millboard
Asbestos mastic sealants have been used for joining and sealing gaps or providing extra waterproofing to a structure.
Common uses of asbestos mastic sealants include their application as part of window beading, filler putty or fixing and galbestos.
Mastic sealants containing asbestos are considered low risk as long as the sealant is in good condition. However, if the sealant is disturbed by sanding and scraping or deteriorates with age, there is a risk of asbestos fibres being released. That's why it might be worthwhile to test for the presence of asbestos at our Envirolab laboratories before commencing any 'do it yourself' (DIY) home improvement projects.
In Australia, asbestos was extensively used in domestic or residential buildings built before the 1980s. During this period, asbestos containing material was gradually phased out of production in favour of asbestos-free products. From December 2003, a total ban was enforced in Australia on the manufacture, import, transport, sale, supply, use and reuse of asbestos containing products.
While asbestos is no longer used in Australia, it can be still be found in a number of locations that predate the enactment of legislation. Some locations may include ceilings, roofs, walls and floors. Due to its robust use, there is a great risk today of being exposed to asbestos fibres while renovating homes built prior to their phasing out. Furthermore, it can be hard to find asbestos containing products by merely looking at them. That's why it helps to send a sample for asbestos testing to Envirolab Services before you get started on any renovation or do-it-yourself (DIY) projects at home.
Before sending your sample to our Envirolab Services laboratories for asbestos testing, we have provided a diagram and a table below, which show some of the potential locations you might find asbestos containing products in your home.
Places you might find asbestos in your home
1. Water tanks
The waterproof properties of asbestos made it very ideal for water storage tanks.
Asbestos fibres might also be released and washed into rainwater tanks from asbestos containing roofing, downpipes and other rainwater products being disturbed and deteriorating over time.
2. Windows and doors
Throughout your home, window putty or infill panels above windows and doors might be made from asbestos containing products.
3. Rainwater products
Outside your home, guttering and downpipes might contain asbestos cement.
Flat, patterned and "Super Six" corrugated asbestos cement roof sheeting was typically used in homes, garages and sheds.
Ceiling tiles, soffit boards, eaves and verandah ceilings are other locations where asbestos insulating board (AIB), fibro and hardiflex were installed.
While not common, roof felt or loose fill insulation in the roof cavity of your home might contain asbestos.
Panelling of vertical and horizontal beams might also be made from asbestos containing materials.
6. Decorative features
Throughout your home, textured decorative coatings, like "Artex" might contain asbestos. Old paints might also harbour asbestos added to enhance resistance.
Asbestos can be found in the sheeting under the heath, insulation and seals (rope inside the door) of wood heaters, which addded heat resistance. Cement panels behind fireplaces might be made from asbestos containing material.
Cement flue pipes, textile sealing in the metal flue joints and the "hat" section that extends from the ceiling and onto the roof as well as vent pipes may also contain asbestos.
8. The backyard
Garages, garden sheds, greenhouses, outside toilets, carports, pools, ponds, letterboxes and dog kennels are some locations you might find asbestos containing materials in the backyard. These constructions might be made from materials, such as asbestos cement coverstrips and wall sheeting.
In some cases, dumped products or items buried in the backyard may also have traces of asbestos.
9. Electrical switchboards
A substance of asbestos called "Zelemite" was extensively used as backing in a switchboard or in electrical boxes due to its heat and fire resistance properties.
Other internal lining or wiring insulation of switchboards might have been made of an asbestos textile material too.
10. Bathroom and laundry
Asbestos might be found in the walls and ceilings of the bathroom, toilet and laundry as "Versilux" sheeting, which was commonly used in homes. The bath or shower recess or panels, toilet cisterns and floor tiles might be made from asbestos. Some older covers of ironing boards might be made from asbestos containing material.
Hot water pipes in the wall and light or lamp sockets might have asbestos lagging and insulation around them.
11. Living areas
Lamp sockets, "Versilux" wall and ceiling sheeting, decorative and textured ceilings, wall paint, vinyl flooring and underlay or carpet underlay are some examples where asbestos containing products might be found in the lounge, rumpus room and other living areas of a home.
12. Kitchen and dining areas
Asbestos containing materials might be found as part of cement walls or "Versilux" walls, ceiling sheeting and splashbacks as well as door seals on old ovens.
Vinyl floor tiles and backing as well as hot water pipes in the wall might have asbestos lagging and insulation.
Vinyl sheeting, the backing of the flooring and the glue used to install the flooring may possess asbestos materials.
The instructions below should be considered as the minimum precautions you should take when sampling material suspected of containing asbestos. If in doubt, please contact us.
|Dampen or wet the material to be tested for asbestos.|
|Before using pliers or any other available tool, place a baby-wipe to protect the inside edges of the tool - If the inside of the pliers is "ribbed" or textured, this precaution helps limit the possibility of parts of the sample getting stuck in these textured areas.|
|Break off a small thumbnail sized sample.|
|Place the sample into a sealable polythene bag, such as a sandwich bag.|
|Place the bagged sample into another sealable bag.|
|Attach a label to the bag that identifies the sample type and sample location. An example of sample type is fibre cement and sample locations might include ceiling tiles or fireboards.|
|Include your name, address, email address and contact number with your sample being tested for asbestos.|
|Seal the exposed edge of the sample being tested for asbestos with duct tape or paint to avoid fibre release.|
|Clean any tools used with a wet paper towel or baby-wipes and place in a separate bag to the sampled material.|
|Send your double-bagged samples by courier, mail or alternatively bring the sample to one of our Envirolab Services office locations or laboratories.|
Once you have your double-bagged sample ready, make sure to choose your preferred payment method based on the service rate fees provided in the table below.
Testing results will be provided once payment is received.
Envirolab Services Fees for the Testing of Samples:
|Per Test Job||2 Working Days (standard)||1 Working Day (urgent)||Same Day (3-4 hours)|
|1 Sample||$ 110.00||$126.50||$159.50|
* Prices listed are GST inclusive.
OVER THE PHONE
We accept advanced payments over the phone by Visa and MasterCard. You can also have your payment deducted from your cheque or savings account by direct deposit.
If you are sending your sample to the Sydney Laboratory, you can make your payment over the phone by calling +61 2 9910 6200. Samples being sent to the Perth Laboratory can be paid over the phone by calling +61 8 9317 2505.
CHEQUE BY MAIL
Mail your double-bagged sample together with a cheque payment of $110 including GST.
A discount is available for combining multiple samples in a test job or individual brief. Refer to the table above for further details.
Make your cheque payable to:
If your sample is being tested by the Sydney Laboratory, send your cheque with sample to:
If you are sending your sample to the Perth Laboratory, send your cheque with sample to:
Once you have selected your payment option, send your double-bagged sample(s) by courier, mail or alternatively bring it to us at one of our NATA approved asbestos testing laboratories listed below:
12 Ashley Street, Chatswood
Sydney NSW 2067
16-18 Hayden Court, Myaree
Perth WA 6154
Results will be reported within two business days!
For more urgent and emergency services, please contact us if you wish to have the results earlier than within 2 business days.
The following conditions apply for a faster turnaround of sample results:
100% surcharge for same day results
Sample must be received by 11am.
Fastest time for the delivery of results
is 2-3 hours.
50% surcharge for next day results
Results given by 6pm when given by 4pm on the day before
Receiving the results for your sample
From the testing conducted at Envirolab, you will receive results in PDF format by email on whether asbestos is present in the sample.
Outstanding payments for testing services will receive an invoice.
If asbestos is present in the sample, you will be provided with details on the type of asbestos identified in the testing.
You can also view more information in what my asbestos sample results mean.
Envirolab Services provides easy to understand information on whether asbestos is found in the sample you provided.
Some of the frequently asked questions we have received about the meaning of the testing results have related to the reasons for testing in the first place. Below we have provided some of the common questions that our team has frequently received.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a versatile material used extensively during construction of commercial and residential properties before 1985 due to its multifaceted properties such as durability, heat resistance and insulation as well as its affordability.
Asbestos is classified as carcinogenic (cancer causing) and exposure to high concentrations of asbestos fibres through respiration may cause health problems. While your body might be able to remove some of the fibres inhaled, other fibres might remain in the lungs and cause various health effects many years later.
What are the possible health effects of asbestos?
The possible health effects and hazards of asbestos include asbestosis (permanent scarring of lung tissue that impairs breathing), lung cancer, mesothelioma (a cancer of the linings around the lungs and abdomen) and other diseases that affect the linings around the lungs and abdomen.
Health effects can take many years to develop and while there are modes of treatments available, for some asbestos related health effects, cures are currently not available.
How much does it cost to test for asbestos?
Testing is priced at $110 including GST for single samples. A discount is available for your second sample or other samples submitted together with your single or first sample. Please refer to our pricing table for further details.
What will the sample testing results include?
The report for your sample will contain details including when the test was conducted, the dimensions or weight of the material, description of the material and information on whether asbestos has been detected in your sample. If the testing results do find the presence of asbestos, you will be provided with details on the type of asbestos identified.
What does a result of 'No Asbestos Detected' mean?
A report detailing ‘No Asbestos Detected’ means that no asbestos was found during the analysis of the sample.
What does a result of 'Amosite Asbestos Detected' mean?
This finding indicates Amosite asbestos was found during the analysis of the sample.
Alongside Chrysotile (white asbestos) and Crocidolite (blue asbestos), Amosite (brown asbestos) is one of the most common types of asbestos broadly used in building and construction products, fireproofing materials and acoustic materials.
Amosite has been used in cement sheets, pipe insulation and fire resistance in thermal insulation products, such as ceiling tiles.
What does a result of ‘Chrysotile Asbestos Detected’ mean?
This means that Chrysotile asbestos was found during the analysis of the sample.
Chrysotile (white asbestos) is a type of asbestos used in friction materials including vehicle brake pads, clutch linings and other types of linings, blocks and in gaskets. Chrysotile can also be found in insulation, cement sheeting, vinyl floor tiles, piping and sealants, although it is no longer used today for these products.
What does a result of ‘Crocidolite Asbestos Detected’ mean?
A finding with this result signifies that Crocidolite (blue) asbestos was found during the analysis of the sample.
Known for having the best heat resistance, Crocidolite has in the past been used in the insulation of steam engines. Crocidolite has also been used for the spray-on coatings, pipe insulation and cement.
What should I do if the sample testing detects asbestos in my sample?
Upon receiving results, and in the case of a positive sample (where asbestos has been detected), please refer to your state regulatory bodies for advice and guidance on how to proceed. We're also happy to assist with your queries if you do contact us.
At Envirolab Services, we take pride in our highly experienced staff who are renowned for providing on time results and the highest level of customer service. With many years of experience, Lulu Scott and Tom Edwards head our asbestos testing departments in our NATA accredited laboratories in Sydney and Perth.
Information about how to directly contact Lulu and Tom on asbestos testing can be found below.
Sydney Asbestos Section
02 9910 6200
Occupational Hygiene and
08 9317 2505
Need help with collecting or sending through a sample for asbestos testing?
For further information, contact us at one of our NATA approved asbestos testing laboratories listed below: