“Scanning Electron Microscopy of Asbestos-Containing Material where the Asbestos Fibers are Considered Locked in a Binder”

1993:76: Brown, Millette

Proceedings, 51st Annual Meeting, Mic. Soc. Of America, 1993


The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has labeled as “friable” those building materials that are likely to readily release fibers. Friable materials, when dry, can easily be crumbled, pulverized, or reduced to powder using hand pressure. 1 Other asbestos containing building materials (ACBM) where the asbestos fibers are in a matrix of cement or bituminous or resinous binders are considered non-friable. However, when subjected to sanding, grinding, cutting or other forms of abrasion, these non-friable materials are to be treated as friable asbestos material.

There has been a hypothesis that all raw asbestos fibers are encapsulated in solvents and binders and are not released as individual fibers if the material is cut or abraded. Examination of a number of different types of non-friable materials under the SEM show that after cutting or abrasion, tuffs or bundles of fibers are evident on the surfaces of the materials. When these tuffs or bundles are examined, they are shown to contain asbestos fibers which are free from binder material. These free fibers may be released into the air upon further cutting or abrasion.

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