Asbestos Testing via the Internet (November 13th, 2006)

One of the pleasures of home ownership is finding hazardous or dangerous things in your house. I recently had that pleasure after a few contractors pointed to a specific place in my new house and told me that it is probably asbestos. After spending quite some time trying to find a person/consultant/contractor/lab willing to do an asbestos test for a residential house, I came across several labs offering testing services over the Internet. Of course, this assumes that the homeowner (namely me!) is the one removing the samples to be tested and possibly getting contaminated himself.

Over all, I found three labs – Western Analytical, LA Testing and EMSL. All three accept samples by mail but most charge quite high prices. Imagine my suprise, that Western Analytical only charged $30 / sample to test with a 24 hour turn around AND email notification, as opposed to almost $200 for some other ones. It was a no brainer.

Of course, one thing that these labs neglect to mention is that asbestos is considered a hazardous material by the Postal Service and requires some special forms:
1. Speficially, you need to put a label with the words “ORM-D – CONSUMER COMMODITY” (like this one) on the package.
2.You need to fill out and include on the package three copies of a hazardous materials form (like this one). Asbestos is classed as hazard class 9, ID # NA2212, DOT packing group # III (see this).
3. And of course the best part – answering “yes” to the postal service clerk asking you if you are shipping dangerous goods.

On a closing note – it is quite interesting that the Internet can be used to leverage market forces even for a very vertical niche service like asbestos testing. I wonder what’s next – carpet cleaning via the Internet?

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