ASTM D6281 - 09

    Standard Test Method for Airborne Asbestos Concentration in Ambient and Indoor Atmospheres as Determined by Transmission Electron Microscopy Direct Transfer (TEM)

    Active Standard ASTM D6281 | Developed by Subcommittee: D22.07

    Book of Standards Volume: 11.07


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    Significance and Use

    This test method is applicable to the measurement of airborne asbestos in a wide range of ambient air situations and for detailed evaluation of any atmosphere in which asbestos structures are likely to be present. Most fibers in ambient atmospheres are not asbestos, and therefore, there is a requirement for fibers to be identified. Most of the airborne asbestos fibers in ambient atmospheres have diameters below the resolution limit of the light microscope. This test method is based on transmission electron microscopy, which has adequate resolution to allow detection of small thin fibers and is currently the only technique capable of unequivocal identification of the majority of individual fibers of asbestos. Asbestos is often found, not as single fibers, but as very complex, aggregated structures, which may or may not also be aggregated with other particles. The fibers found suspended in an ambient atmosphere can often be identified unequivocally if sufficient measurement effort is expended. However, if each fiber were to be identified in this way, the analysis would become prohibitively expensive. Because of instrumental deficiencies or because of the nature of the particulate matter, some fibers cannot be positively identified as asbestos even though the measurements all indicate that they could be asbestos. Therefore, subjective factors contribute to this measurement, and consequently, a very precise definition of the procedure for identification and enumeration of asbestos fibers is required. The method defined in this test method is designed to provide a description of the nature, numerical concentration, and sizes of asbestos-containing particles found in an air sample. The test method is necessarily complex because the structures observed are frequently very complex. The method of data recording specified in the test method is designed to allow reevaluation of the structure-counting data as new applications for measurements are developed. All of the feasible specimen preparation techniques result in some modification of the airborne particulate matter. Even the collection of particles from a three-dimensional airborne dispersion on to a two-dimensional filter surface can be considered a modification of the particulate matter, and some of the particles, in most samples, are modified by the specimen preparation procedures. However, the procedures specified in this test method are designed to minimize the disturbance of the collected particulate material.

    This test method applies to analysis of a single filter and describes the precision attributable to measurements for a single filter (see 13.1). Multiple air samples are usually necessary to characterize airborne asbestos concentrations across time and space. The number of samples necessary for this purpose is proportional to the variation in measurement across samples, which may be greater than the variation in a measurement for a single sample.

    1. Scope

    1.1 This test method is an analytical procedure using transmission electron microscopy (TEM) for the determination of the concentration of asbestos structures in ambient atmospheres and includes measurement of the dimension of structures and of the asbestos fibers found in the structures from which aspect ratios are calculated.

    1.1.1 This test method allows determination of the type(s) of asbestos fibers present.

    1.1.2 This test method cannot always discriminate between individual fibers of the asbestos and non-asbestos analogues of the same amphibole mineral.

    1.2 This test method is suitable for determination of asbestos in both ambient (outdoor) and building atmospheres.

    1.2.1 This test method is defined for polycarbonate capillary-pore filters or cellulose ester (either mixed esters of cellulose or cellulose nitrate) filters through which a known volume of air has been drawn and for blank filters.

    1.3 The upper range of concentrations that can be determined by this test method is 7000 s/mm2. The air concentration represented by this value is a function of the volume of air sampled.

    1.3.1 There is no lower limit to the dimensions of asbestos fibers that can be detected. In practice, microscopists vary in their ability to detect very small asbestos fibers. Therefore, a minimum length of 0.5 μm has been defined as the shortest fiber to be incorporated in the reported results.

    1.4 The direct analytical method cannot be used if the general particulate matter loading of the sample collection filter as analyzed exceeds approximately 10 % coverage of the collection filter by particulate matter.

    1.5 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.


    2. Referenced Documents (purchase separately) The documents listed below are referenced within the subject standard but are not provided as part of the standard.

    ASTM Standards

    D1193 Specification for Reagent Water

    D1356 Terminology Relating to Sampling and Analysis of Atmospheres

    D1357 Practice for Planning the Sampling of the Ambient Atmosphere

    D4483 Practice for Evaluating Precision for Test Method Standards in the Rubber and Carbon Black Manufacturing Industries

    E177 Practice for Use of the Terms Precision and Bias in ASTM Test Methods

    E691 Practice for Conducting an Interlaboratory Study to Determine the Precision of a Test Method

    ISO Standard

    ISO10312 Ambient air - Determination of asbestos fibres - Direct-transfer transmission electron microscopy method


    ICS Code

    ICS Number Code 13.040.01 (Air quality in general)

    UNSPSC Code

    UNSPSC Code 77121504(Air pollution monitoring or measurement services)


    DOI: 10.1520/D6281-09

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