05-Mar-2013 - Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Super-sensitive detection of asbestos in soil samples

A new method of sample preparation, developed by a group of US scientists, promises to increase the sensitivity of asbestos analysis 100-fold, to the point where it can be used to detect the substance in soil.

Although at a low level, asbestos contamination in soil is of potential concern. If such soil is disturbed by human activity or weather conditions, asbestos can be released into the air, where it can become an on-going source of exposure and a risk to public health.

Current methods of asbestos detection are geared towards the analysis of building materials and are not sensitive enough to be applied to soil, but this new sample preparation method promises sensitivity down to levels as low as 0.002% by weight.

The technique uses a fluidised bed asbestos segregator (FBAS), which employs air elutriation to separate asbestos particles from heavier material and deposit them on a filter. This filter can then be analysed using microscopy techniques, such as TEM. The FBAS unit itself is compact and portable, lending itself to use in a standard laboratory fume hood.


Facts, background information, dossiers
  • Environmental Prote…
More about Environmental Protection Agency
More about Royal Society of Chemistry
  • News

    New coating is self-defence for seeds

    Scientists in Switzerland have developed a protective coating for seeds that poisons pests with cyanide when they bite into it. The coating is a system of two layers and only becomes toxic when the layers are mixed, eliminating the problem of environmental contamination that is associated w ... more

    Using bacteria to make electrodes

    Scientists in France have produced hematite using a bacterial pathway for use as an electrode material in Li-ion technologies. Currently, most commercial electrode materials for Li-ion technologies are prepared using the ceramic method, which requires long heating periods at high temperatur ... more

    Marine plant replacement for platinum in solar cells

    An international research team has shown that that the power conversion efficiency of sea tangle extract is comparable to platinum in solar cell electrodes. Dye-sensitized solar cells (DSCs) are quickly becoming a widespread and affordable alternative to photovoltaic solar cells. The electr ... more

  • Videos

    Royal Society of Chemistry – About us

    With more than 51,000 members and an international publishing and knowledge business we are the UK’s professional body for chemical scientists, supporting and representing our members and bringing together chemical scientists from all over the world. more

    A career in toxicology

    Hear from RSC member Vicki Stone talk about her role as a Nanotoxicologist. more

    When Food met Pharma: Delivery Strategies for Nutraceuticals

    With growing prevalence of lifestyle-associated diseases, including obesity, Type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease, there is an urgent need and demand to try to prevent the onset of these diseases within our growing population. Nutraceuticals, along with appropriate diet and exercise, ... more

  • Companies

    Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC)

    The RSC is a leading international publisher of highly regarded journals and books in the chemical sciences. The RSC is also the professional body for chemists with a global membership of over 46,000. more