This paper presents the results of an intensive monitoring activity of the particulate, fall-out and soil of selected living areas in Italy with the aim to detect the asbestos concentration in air and subsequent risk of exposure for the population in ambient living environments, and to assess the nature of the other mineral phases composing the particulate matrix. Some areas were sorted out because of the presence of asbestos containing materials on site whereas others were used as blank spots in the attempt to detect the background environmental concentration of asbestos in air. Because the concentration of asbestos in ambient environments is presumably very low, and it is well known that conventional low-medium flow sampling systems with filters of small diameter (25 mm) may collect only a very small fraction of particulate over a short period, for the first time here, an intense monitoring activity was conducted with a high flow sampling system. The high flow system requires the use of large cellulose filters with the advantage that, increasing the amount of collect dust, the probability to collect asbestos fibers increases. Both the protocol of monitoring and analysis are novel and prompted by the need to increase the sensitivity towards the small number of expected fibers. With this goal, the collection of fall-out samples (the particulate falling into a collector filled with distilled water during the monitoring shift) and soil samples was also accomplished. The analytical protocol of the matrix particulate included preliminary X-ray powder diffraction (XRPD), optical microscopy and quantitative electron microscopy (SEM and TEM). Correlations with climatic trends and PM10 concentration data were also attempted.The surprising outcome of this work is that, despite the nature of the investigated site, the amount of dispersed asbestos fibers is very low and invariably lower than the theoretical method detection limits of the SEM and TEM techniques for identification and counting of asbestos fibers. The results are compared to the literature data worldwide and an updated model for asbestos fibers dispersion in ambient environment is proposed.
Ambient monitoring of asbestos in selected Italian living areas / Gualtieri, Alessandro; Dario, Mangano; Magdalena Lassinantti, Gualtieri; Anna, Ricchi; Elisabetta, Foresti; Giorgio, Lesci; Norberto, Roveri; Mauro, Mariotti; Giovanni, Pecchini. - In: JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT. - ISSN 0301-4797. - STAMPA. - 90:11(2009), pp. 3540-3552. [10.1016/j.jenvman.2009.06.007]