It is very dangerous to handle and breath asbestos dust as that is the way that the lungs become contaminated with carcinogenic fibers that will cause DNA base pair mismatches. This is the beginning of the knock out process where tumor suppressor genes become disabled. Once this happens in a person who already is predisposed to cancer, then it is likely that tumors can begin to form in the lungs or other rapidly proliferating cells. If parents had cancer in the family, children can be born with one tumor suppressor gene missing from the DNA of these types of cells so that if these asbestos fibers are present in the home or workplace, breathing of these fibers could result in developing cancer.
So, testing is a great idea and only involves wearing a dust mask rated at P2 level. All local hardware stores carry this type. Collect a sample of the material using size 5-100g collection tools. Pliers are best to use so that the sample is not touched. Put it in a double bag. If any materials were broken to access the sample, a couple coats of paint should be applied to those areas to prevent further fibers from entering the air as asbestos dust.
A form can then be filled out online at an asbestos testing web site. Samples should be delivered to the office where the testing process will be started. Samples can be mailed, however, hand delivery is preferred by most testing centers. Once the sample is examined in the laboratory, the results can be recorded and interpreted by the experts. The lab is set up so that the testing will be thorough including using Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM) and Dispersion Staining (DS). These are highly reliable testing methods and cannot be substituted with other less appropriate methods. For more info click on loose-fill asbestos testing.
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