“Asbestos Identification Using Available Standard Methods”

2005:54: Millette, Bandli

Microscope 53(4):179-185


Asbestos is a commercial term applied to the asbestiform varieties of different minerals. Although there are other asbestiform minerals, the asbestos types listed in the available standard and recognized methods (1-41) are only the six most common ones; chrysotile, amosite (asbestiform cummington-grunerite), crocidolite (asbestiform riebeckite), and the asbestiform varieties of anthophyllite, tremolite and actinolite.

In addition to choosing a method dependent on the media being sampled (air, water, bulk building materials, surface dust, tissue, etc.), the analyst must be aware that there are differences in fiber definitions and counting rules among the methods. Although there are mineralogical references (42-55) that discuss many of the issues related to the classification of asbestos types, most of these discussions have not been incorporated into the methods themselves.

From the analyst’s point of view, there are a number of areas where the methods do not clearly define how to make decisions about what to count and what not to count. Two major areas of current method development involve the classification of amphiboles to a specific amphibole name and the determination of what constitutes a cleavage fragment when dealing with a single fiber.

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