Because it is an excellent fire-resistant insulator, asbestos was added to a variety of building materials and other products before the health hazards it presented were recognized. Left undisturbed, it does not pose an immediate problem, but construction, remodeling or damage can release its toxins. In older dwellings and other buildings, it is regularly found in basements and attics and around steam pipes, water pipes, furnaces and boilers.
There are a few methods used to test for this dangerous substance. Professional testers will take samples of material they believe to contain asbestos and these are sent to a lab for detection. If the test confirms the presence of asbestos, you may need to hire an abatement professional to remove it. Broken materials should be removed as soon as possible. An abatement contractor will make sure the material is safely disposed of once it has been taken away.
Under no circumstances should homeowners take samples or handle infected materials themselves. They may contain harmful fibers that can lodge in the lining of the lungs or other parts of the body, and can cause scarring of the lungs and mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer.
If you have even the slightest concern or doubt about the presence of asbestos in your home, contact an asbestos testing professional and arrange a consultation without delay.