Asbestos Point Counting Defined

Point counting is a detailed laboratory method that determines the actual asbestos content of friable building materials.  It shows if the content is greater than 1%.  The federal asbestos regulations for building renovations and demolitions allow point counting.

The actual regulation is found in Chapter 61.145 of Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations, otherwise known as 40 CFR 61.145.  Chapter 61 contains the NESHAPs rules (National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants).  NESHAPs covers quite a few hazardous air pollutants and asbestos is addressed in Subpart M of Chapter 61.  NESHAPs is enforced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA,  State agencies such as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection ( also enforce it.

When to Asbestos Point Count

Do point counting when the material is friable and the initial results are less than 10%.  This more detailed procedure tightens the statistics, providing a more accurate concentration.


What are the options?  First, assume the initial results are correct and the material contains more than 1% asbestos.  Next, abate it prior to disturbance (renovation or demolition).  Otherwise, point count it.

Asbestos point countingThe decision involves money.  The cost of point counting a few samples is a few hundred dollars.  But, the cost of abatement is a few thousand dollars.  In either case, removing the material can cause an inhalation hazard for the workers and occupants.  This is true even for asbestos concentrations less than 1%.  That number is a regulatory number, not a safe, no exposure number.


Like a lot of construction issues, point counting is a business decision.  The building owner and occupants make the decision, with the building contractor, licensed asbestos consultant, and licensed asbestos contractor.  Consider the potential outcomes.  For example, the owner and occupants may say they want it removed properly by a licensed asbestos contractor whatever the concentration is.  Alternatively, they may not care about the potential exposure and opt for the building contractor to carefully remove it it if it contains less than 1% asbestos.

Environmental Safety ConsultantsSo there is a discussion of point counting building materials for asbestos.  If you need any assistance, ESC ( is here.  On staff, we have a Florida Licensed Asbestos Consultant and board Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH).  ESC has been providing asbestos consulting services to our clients for over thirty years.  We have the credentials and experience to help you with your asbestos needs.  Our firm is just a telephone call (800-226-1735) or an e-mail away (  Contact us today!