Multi-parameter observation of environmental asbestos pollution at the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (Jussieu Campus, France)

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An original multi-parameter system has been used to study the nature of dust in the ambient air, particularly the total fibers and asbestos fibers, in eight areas of the Institut de Physique de Globe de Paris (France). These analyses provide a detailed case study of environmental pollution by asbestos fibers at low levels. The levels of total fibers with a length greater than 3 μm, measured with a real time fiber analyser monitor (FAM), give a baseline of 2.5 fibers per l., throughout the duration of sampling. The same levels, calculated during periods of effective presence of staff, are smaller than 10 fb per l. During these periods, the instantaneous value can show high peaks, reaching a maximum of 60 fb per l., but more often of about 5 to 10 fb per l. A direct cause and effect relationship exists between fiber concentrations and the presence of people, and indirectly with the variation of the other environmental parameters (temperature, humidity, air velocity). The baseline concentration of asbestos fibers, determined by analytical transmission electron microscopy (ATEM), is about 10-1 fb per l., with a mean value during the presence of people always less than 1.5 fb per l. The low levels of asbestos fibers do not allow us to establish a precise correlation between the concentration of total fibers and the asbestos concentration, but a rough estimate suggests that asbestos could represent 10-20% of the airborne fibers monitored with the FAM. The statistical study of fiber sizes shows that 70 and 55% of analyzed chrysotile and amosite fibers respectively are smaller than 5 μm. These numbers are 40 and 35% for fibers smaller than 3 μm, which are undetected by the FAM. Amosite, which characterizes most of the asbestos-containing materials (ACM) in the analyzed areas, is detected in the ambient air in quantities ten times less important than chrysotile. The low asbestos levels and the difference between the nature of building asbestos and airborne fibers, show that the mean measured asbestos contents in the ambient air represent the geochemical background of chrysotile asbestos fibers in the Parisian air. Copyright (C) 1999 British Occupational Hygiene Society.




Besson, P., Lalanne, F. X., Wang, Y., & Guyot, F. (1999). Multi-parameter observation of environmental asbestos pollution at the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (Jussieu Campus, France). Annals of Occupational Hygiene, 43(8), 527–541.

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