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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Asbestos and Lead Paint Testing

11/27/2019 (Permalink)

Asbestos can be found in several different forms, such as this roofing material. The only way to be certain is to test for it Does this roofing material contain asbestos? Find the answer at the end of this blog post.

When we begin any type of restoration work inside a home or business, one of our first questions is: When was this building built?

The reason we ask this is because of special precautions that need to be taken if the building may contain asbestos or lead paint. Exposure to either can potentially cause health problems, especially if we need to pull up flooring or complete other forms of demolition because doing so could expose our crew members or customers.

As a precaution, we ask home or business owners when the building was built. If a building was built before 1978, we will test materials for lead paint. If it was built before 1985, we require that an asbestos test be completed by a licensed company so we know if abatement is necessary (removal of the lead or asbestos-containing materials by an abatement company).

Health risks vary depending on the materials. For instance, asbestos exposure could potentially cause:


-Lung Cancer


A potential risk from inhaling asbestos fibers is that the fibers cannot be broken down by the body once they are lodged in the lungs or body tissue. Microscopic asbestos fibers cannot be seen, smelled or tasted. They are usually found in vinyl asbestos tiles, but can sometimes be found in joint compound, ceiling texture, insulation and flooring materials like mastic (glue for flooring). It can be easy to inhale asbestos dust without realizing it, especially if the materials are friable (easy to break or crumble, becoming airborne easily). Most asbestos containing material we find in homes are considered nonfriable, but there is exposure risk when these materials are disturbed during demolition or renovation.

Lead paint exposure typically comes from deteriorating paint, like paint chips or dust, but lead can sometimes be found in different types of building material like stains, varnishes and shellac. Symptoms of lead exposure in adults can vary, and typically come from long term exposure, but sometimes include:

-High Blood Pressure

-Joint and Muscle Pain

-Difficulty with memory/concentration


-Abdominal Pain

Unless a product is clearly marked, it’s impossible to determine if it contains asbestos or lead paint simply by looking at it. EPA guidelines require companies like SERVPRO maintain a certification for lead paint testing called the Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting rule (RRP). All of our employees go through an eight-hour initial training program, as well as a four-hour refresher course every two years to be certified for lead based renovation activities. Our firm must also be licensed by the Georgia EPD (Environmental Protection Division) to do this type of work. We typically use a swab test that will change color if lead is present, but with asbestos, we rely on licensed asbestos abatement companies for testing and removal if necessary.

Questions? Give us a call at (478) 474-6700

(Answer: Yes, the sample of roofing material in the photo above does contain asbestos fibers)

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