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asbestos testing and analysis

Have we got asbestos?

The simple answer is that without taking a sample and sending it to a specialist laboratory, your guess is as good as ours. 

Asbestos has been widely used throughout the world in many different applications and whilst some products such as corrugated asbestos containing roof sheeting installed back in the 50's and 60's can normally be strongly presumed to contain asbestos, there are many other products that look similar that don't.  For example the alternative non asbestos containing corrugated fibre cement boarding produced after asbestos was finally banned in the UK in 1999, once weathered looks very similar.

For this very reason, Ferncroft, not only recognise's your concerns, but also, that you may only require a particular product checking for the possibility of it containing asbestos.

Our fully trained and insured, asbestos surveying teams are on hand to attend your premises take a sample as required. All you have to do is give us a call and we will do the rest.

What is Testing?

Testing basically involves a sample of the suspect material being taken, placed into sealed container, labelled and taken to a UKAS accredited laboratory for determination under controlled conditions. Here the sample is microscopically checked for containing fibres, which if present and using a series of stain dispersion techniques the fibres are then analysed under polarised light for determination. A bit like checking for DNA

When the fibres are mounted in a refractive index liquid, unique to the type of asbestos being checked and then placed under a microscope and polarised light shone through, asbestos is identified if present.

Once the results of the samples are known we report back with the independent and impartial findings.

How long does Testing take?

Generally, samples take approximately 5 days to turn around from receipt of them. Obviously if we take the samples we would have them and would take care of the whole process.

Samples not taken by us would need to be placed into a suitable container, (i.e self seal poly bags) clearly labelled and then placed into a second container and sealed.  

Can I take my own Samples?

We get asked this all the time, and our answer is always the same, asbestos is a known human carcinogen, which is perfectly safe when left undisturbed, without breakage, however once the fibres become airborne, then the potential risk of exposure is a possibility. The UK Health and safety Executive (HSE) advise that you can take the sample yourself providing it is already broken off and that there is no risk of spreading the debris or exposing yourself to the dust.

Asbestos Testing Kit?

To help you to take your sample safely, we have prepared a self contained sample kit which you can purchase from our online shop or by calling the office.

The sample kit come complete and within the cost includes everything required for you to take the sample safely, including,  instructions, personal protective equipment (PPE), sample bags, the UKAS lab test, prepaid envelope and the cost of the disposal of the ppe after use. 

Ferncroft Environmental Isle of Man send all samples taken to UKAS Accredited labs in the UK
building material being checked for the possibility  of containing asbestos
Positive asbestos identification under polarised light
Asbestos fibres being seperated ready for testing to check on the type
Microsciope used for testing
asbestos demolition survey link
Survey and Sample Request Form

Source: Health and Safety Executive (UK)

Sampling asbestos materials

Sampling does not require an asbestos licence.

  • If it has already broken off, you can take the sample yourself if there is no risk of spreading debris or exposing yourself to dust.

    • Watch where you walk!

    • Dampen the sample

    • Place it in a self-sealing polythene bag

    • Put this in a second self-sealing bag.

    • Label it.

    • Make arrangements for analysis by a UKAS accredited asbestos-testing laboratory.


You can't always tell whether a material is cement or AIB, without further testing. The mechanism used to determine what the materiel is, is called 'Water Absorption Testing.

Its a test that takes a coupe of days to dry out the sample and then check to see how much water it absorbs.

< 30% - Cement Product

> 30% - Asbestos Insulating Board (AIB)

In layman's terms a cement product is non licensable, whereas, AIB requires removal by a licensed asbestos removal contractor.

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