Identification and Quantification of Asbestos

SOP: 2192

Stage 1 – Qualitative – presence or absence of asbestos in soil

Identification of ACM and/or free fibrous bundles in soil for the presence of asbestos as defined by The Control of Asbestos Regulations (2012). The minerals are: Chrysotile (white), Crocidolite (blue), Amosite (brown), Tremolite, Actinolite & Anthophyllite.

The whole sample (typically 1 tub, circa 500g) is screened by eye.  Then a coned and quartered sub-sample (typically 1 petri dish, circa 30g) is further examined by binocular microscopy at x40 magnification after drying.  Suspected asbestos undergoes identification by polarised light microscopy (PLM) in accordance with HSG248.  It should be noted that when samples are deemed negative at this stage a minimum of 2 disaggregated sub-samples undergo a pinch test when the soil in mounted in a refractive index fluid and further examined at x100 magnification.

Stage 2 – Gravimetric quantification – ACMs and fibre bundles

The ACMs and fibre bundles handpicked and previously identified in all stages of the qualitative method are weighed.  The concentration of asbestos in each material type is assessed with guidance from HSG 264 and the results are corrected for stones and moisture and expressed on a % dry weight basis.

Stage 3 – Fibre counting quantification – free fibres     

This is the counting of free fibres by phase contrast microscopy (PCM) at x500 magnification.  A representative sub-sample of soil (circa 1g) is dispersed in water (typically 200ml) and an aliquot (typically 1ml) is filtered, dried and then examined under PCM.  Free fibres are sized, counted and calculated to express the mass percentage in the soil.  This is often referenced as HSE Report No. 83/1996 Method 5.

Both quantification methods are in accordance with the draft SCA Blue Book Quantification of Asbestos in Soil 2017.

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    A number of different publications and standards cite sulphate methods. BR279 (1995) has largely been superseded by analytical procedures as detailed in TRL 447 and BRE Special Digest:1 2005 3rd Edition. In addition further reference may be made to BS EN 144-1:2009 + A1:2012 for the testing of aggregates and BS 1377:2018 for soils for civil engineering purposes.

    Testing to meet the requirements of UKWIR Report Ref. No. 10/WM/03/21 Guidance for the selection of water supply pipes to be used in brownfield sites.

    Testing & reporting is undertaken in accordance with BS 3882:2015 Specification for topsoil and BS 8601:2013 Specification for subsoil and requirements for use

    All Asbestos Methods