Asbestos for Homeowners
The Wisconsin Occupational Health Lab (WOHL) provides homeowners and businesses testing for asbestos in a wide variety of material such as floor tiles, ceiling tiles, pipe insulation, shingles, and more.
Asbestos can be found in many forms. In the U.S. it was used industrially as a fire-proofing and structural material from around the 1850s until the 1990s. It can commonly be found in flooring, siding, insulation, pipe wrap, drywall and plaster, mixed in with concrete and other compounds and even in fabric.
The cost of testing is $45 per sample for a normal turn-around-time (TAT) of 12-14 working days. A Priority TAT costs $67.50 per sample and a Rush TAT is $90 per sample. For Priority and Rush, please call and consult our analyst to be sure the workload and sample type allows your request to be analyzed in a time frame that works for you. Send no money with your sample; we will bill you.
Asbestos is dangerous when it becomes airborne and inhalable. To minimize your risk when sampling, moisten the area you are planning to cut in order to keep possible asbestos fibers from entering the air.
For flat material, we need a sample that is at least 1 inch square. Around a 3 square inch piece is ideal. Try to capture a piece that is representative of your project with the various layers you’ll be dealing with. If the sample is glued to something, you’ll want to include some of the mastic or glue as well because even if the tile does not contain asbestos many of the glues do.
For other types of material, we need about 1 tablespoon’s worth.
Place your sample in a zipper-type plastic bag or a clean sealable bottle or container. You can mail your sample to the lab, bring it to our front desk, or use our drop box.
Our mailing addresses for US mail and other delivery services are on the bottom of the Sample Submission Form. If you choose to bring the sample in to our office, our hours are Monday-Friday 7:45am to 4:30pm. A drop box is available by the door if you are here outside of office hours.
Along with your sample, please include a Sample Submission Form. Copies are available in our lobby or for download here: https://www.slh.wisc.edu/occupational/wohl/customer-service/sample-submission-forms/
When filling out the sample submission form, type in or legibly fill out the Bill To section with your name and address, a phone number and e-mail address. Results are usually reported through email unless you request differently. It’s not necessary but you may assign your own project name if you like (“cabin” or “grandma’s house” for example). Fill in the date the sample was taken if you know it. Check the box next to the turn-around-time you are requesting.
In the table section below, give your sample an identifying name or number like “pipe wrap” or “bathroom floor,” and then enter “asbestos testing” under the Analysis Requested section. If you have multiple samples simply continue to enter them on the table as you did the first sample.
When we receive your sample we will create an account for you and analyze your sample(s). We generate invoices at the beginning of each month and so you should receive a bill for the testing after your results report has been received.
Click here to see an example of an asbestos report. In this example, there are two samples. “Kitchen” did not have asbestos detected in any of its 4 layers. “Bath” does have 60% asbestos present in layer 2. No amount of asbestos is considered safe to inhale or ingest.
A note about Vermiculite insulation
Vermiculite was used as insulation for housing (usually in attics) during most of the 20th century. While vermiculite itself is relatively safe, a mine in Libby, Montana that produced a large percentage of the vermiculite insulation in North America was found to be contaminated with asbestos. The W.R. Grace Company that owned the mine has since dissolved but a fund has been set up to help reimburse homeowners for some of the costs associated with removing their brand of vermiculite. It is called the Zonolite Attic Insulation Trust. https://www.zonoliteatticinsulation.com/
If you are looking for reimbursement from this fund, you must send a sample in to the fund. We are not associated with the fund and results from our lab will not satisfy their requirements. They are testing to see if the material came from their mine, not if it contains asbestos.
Also, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s brochure Current Best Practices for Vermiculite Attic Insulation (May 2003), vermiculite insulation should be considered “Asbestos Containing”. Due to difficulties associated with conclusive detection of the presence or absence of asbestos fiber by current test methods and its unique friable nature, Wisconsin Department of Health & Family Services considers ALL vermiculite insulation as “Asbestos Containing”. Accordingly, under the recently revised HFS159 now in effect, all vermiculite insulation is considered “Asbestos Containing” regardless of previous laboratory test results and must be handled as such. This rule change only applies to construction and renovation activities covered by the WI DHFS statute. A note with this information will appear on results reports for vermiculite asbestos analysis.
The state of Wisconsin requires that asbestos removal and disposal be done by licensed persons. WOHL cannot recommend any asbestos abatement companies. A list of licensed companies and services can be found at the Wisconsin Department of Health here: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/asbestos/contractors.htm
For general information about asbestos: http://www2.epa.gov/asbestos
For additional information in Wisconsin: http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/asbestos/
Zonolite Attic Trust: https://www.zonoliteatticinsulation.com/