Below are five reasons you should not collect your own asbestos sample;
When an asbestos-containing material (ACM) is disturbed, it can become friable and airborne. In this state, asbestos fibres have the potential to be inhaled and lodged in the lungs, which could lead to serious long-term health effects. Sampling effectively disturbs an ACM and so if done without suitable controls in place, there is a serious risk to your health, or others if in the vicinity of the sampling area.
Other health-related issues could also occur while collecting an asbestos sample: Poor sampling technique, for example, could cause muscle strains or wounds. Sampling from heights could lead to serious body injuries and sampling in confined spaces can cause asphyxiation and/or injury resulting from entrapment. Other biological, chemical or electrical hazardous might also be encountered.
Did you know that asbestos can be inconsistently distributed throughout a building material? A stipple ceiling for example could have a high concentration of asbestos fibres in one area of a ceiling and less in another area.
Do you know how many sampling points should be included in your sample? Larger areas typically need more sample points however with too many sampling points you run the risk of diluting a sample.
Do you know how to avoid cross contaminating your sample? There are multiple ways this could happen. A false-positive or false-negative result could lead to decisions being made down the track that are unsafe or unnecessarily expensive.
There are also legal reasons why you should consider using someone experienced to carry out a sample collection. The asbestos regulations (2016) require workers engaged by a PCBU who are involved in asbestos-related work to be trained appropriately.