The standard methodology(MDHS100 in the UK) for determining airborne asbestos fiber concentration (expressed as fibers per millitre (fiber/ml) or cubic centimetre (fiber/cm³))is via the following method:
1. Air pumps are used to suck air through a filter at 8 litres per minute for 60 minutes.
2. The filter is mounted on a slide using acetone
3. The slide is viewing using either Phase Contrast Microscopy(PCM), Scanning Electron Microscopy(SEM), or Transmission Electron Microscopy(TEM). Usually PCM due to cost. A PCM microscope costs approx £2500 GBP.
4. The analyst looks through the microscope and counts the number of objects which meed the MDHS criteria for counting as potential asbestos fibers. A crowd counter may be used to count fibers per field.
5. The fibers per microscope field are extrapolated to calculate a concentration value (fiber/ml). Unfortunately this is only a "transient index of concentration" rather than an absolute value as the smallest fibers are not visible via PCM.
Comparative exposure levels to airborne asbestos fibers by activity (Fibers per millilitre)
Sweeping asbestos insulation board debris up to 100 fiber/ml
Dry removal of asbestos lagging up to 100 fiber/ml
Dry removal of sprayed (limpet) coating up to 1000 fiber/ml
Rate of decline of asbestos fiber concentration in room air
Airborne asbestos fibers settle very slowly and in relation to their diameter.
A 3 micrometre diameter fiber is estimated to settle at 150 millimetres per minute.
However a 0.5 micrometre diameter fiber is estimated to settle at 4 millimetres per minute.
Thus the time for a fiber to fall 2 metres is:
3 micrometre fiber: 13 minutes
0.5 micrometre: 8 hours
^ J. Peto, C. Rake, C. Gilham, A. Darnton & J. Hodgson, (October 2006), "Observations and speculations on mesothelioma risks and asbestos exposure in Britain", BOHS Autumn meeting, Manchester, UK
^ abcd World Health Organisation Air Quality Guidelines Second Edition (2000), WHO Regional Office for Europe, Copenhagen, Denmark
^ G. Burdett (Nov 2005), "Airborne fiber concentration during the removal of asbestos containing textured decorative plasters and paints and the risk to workers Report Number IFS/05/13", UK Health and Safety Laboratory
^ Burdett, GJ & Scott, R (1988) "Fibre Release from Chrysotile-containing Decorative Plasters" UK HSE/RLSD Report No: IR.L/DI/88/03
^ Preat, B. (1993), Surveillance de Chantiers avec Fibres-Ciment. Instituut voor Reddingswezen, Ergonomie en Arbeidshygiene, Hasselt, Belgium; Report Ref. 2240-F.
^ ab CONSAD Research Corporation (1990). "Economic analysis of the proposed revisions to the OSHA asbestos standard for construction and general Industry. OSHA J-9-8-0033, U.S. Dept. of Labor, Washington, DC
^ Brown, S.K. (1987), Asbestos Exposure During Renovation and Demolition of Asbestos-Cement Clad Buildings, Am. Ind. Hyg. Assoc. J. 48 (5): 478-486.
^ abcdefgh Manchester Metropolitan University (2000), "HEALTH AND SAFETY ASBESTOS GENERAL GUIDANCE"
^ ab E.Yano, Z.Wang, X.Wang, M.Wang, Y.Lan (2001) "Cancer Mortality among Workers Exposed to Amphibole-free Chrysotile Asbestos", American Journal of Epidemiology, Vol. 154, No. 6
^ abc North Cornwall District Council Asbestos Policy (2005)
^ ab J. S. MOORCROFT and M. J. DUGGAN (1984) "RATE OF DECLINE OF ASBESTOS FIBER CONCENTRATION IN ROOM AIR", Environmental Sciences Division, Scientific Services Branch, Greater London Council, London SE1 7PB, U.K.
AIRBORNE ASBESTOS CONCENTRATIONS IN BUILDINGS G. J. BURDETT and S. A. M. T. JAFFREY Occupational Medicine and Hygiene Laboratory, Health and Safety Executive, 403 Edgeware Road, London NW2 6LN, U.K
G.Burdett and G.Revell (2006), "Summary Report On Additional Work Carried Out On The Monitoring Of Chrysotile Containing Textured Decorative Coatings" UK HSL/2006/19
G.Burdett (2007), "Investigation of the chrysotile fibres in an asbestos cement sample" UK HSL/2007/11