Richard Knights is a Certified Asbestos Building Inspector (AHERA), as required to touch any possible asbestos containing materials (ACM).

The most commonly found ACM:  popcorn ceiling texture (if sprayed on before 1980: mostly @5-10% asbestos), sheet vinyl flooring backing (if light gray felt: often @70%), and vinyl floor tiles (VAT, old 9-inch: usually @1-5%). Just assume that vermiculite is ACM because it is so likely and so non-uniform.

The percent asbestos is much less important than the condition:  “friable” ACM can easily crumble, and the tiny fibers become airborne if disturbed.  ACM can deteriorate and fall apart and get disturbed during demolition and renovation.  This can cause asbestos to break down (become “friable”), get inhaled, and settle deep into the lungs, where they cause damage years later.

 ASBESTOS TESTING of bulk building materials to find possible ACM:

  • Hire me to come and collect samples, either a few or a Full Survey.  Or:
  • Collect and deliver your samples to me for analysis:
    • Call ahead for advice.
    • Collect a sample carefully of each material and every layer.
    • Sample popcorn ceiling texture: need about a teaspoon of 10 pinches from scattered locations to say “no”, since it may not be uniform (take separate samples if rooms have different appearance, or on different floors).
    • Sample floor covering tiles or sheet: a few square inches.Include all layers, top to bottom, with any adhesive.
  • Double zip-lock bag the samples; can be many baggies inside one outer bag.Label with what, where, date, & your name.
  • Mail (an envelope thicker than a quarter-inch costs over a dollar.) or bring (call first) (to Salem) me your samples.

 ASBESTOS TESTING of the breathing air to find possible asbestos fibers:

  • Sample the air by pumping through a filter for a long time (preferably 48 hours) to get a very low limit of detection.
  • Analyze by transmission electron microscope (TEM) at Lab/Cor in Seattle.

ASBESTOS ABATEMENT work (disturbing by removing or repairing) on ACM:

  • Blue Sky does not do abatement.
  • Anyone who works with ACM must comply with regulatory requirements.
  • Get removal guides and permits (for more than 48 square feet of friable ACM) from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Western Region – Salem Office at 503-378-5086 or online, or in Seattle: Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSSCAA), 206-343-8800, or online. Other reporting regulations online.
  • Renovating contractors may also require a survey by destructive multiple sampling of many other materials to prove to PSCAA they do not contain asbestos.
  • Do abatement only by certified asbestos workers or owner-occupants of single-family homes.
  • Make sure that anyone disturbing (removing, sawing, drilling, etc.) ACM takes precautions (e.g. wet it, wear a HEPA filter mask).  And if using contractors:
  • Give 10 days advance notice of friable asbestos abatement to the Oregon DEQ, or Washington State Labor & Industries, WISHA, 206-281-5470.
  • Properly dispose of ACM (labeled bag, separate from trash).


  •  AVOID disturbing the ACM.
  • REMOVE the ACM, and paint the area.
  • PAINT over the ACM (may make removal in the future more difficult).
  • ENCAPSULATE (in special cases, perhaps) by painting with penetrating encapsulant, then with bridging encapsulant paint to ENCASE it.

Costs to remove typical ACM (depending on amount, accessibility, etc.), roughly:

  • Popcorn ceiling texture:  $4 per square foot
  • Cement asbestos board (CAB):  $3 per square foot
  • Disposal costs:  $150 to 200 per ton.