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Asbestos in Soil

A new ASTM International standard is focused exclusively on testing soil for asbestos. D7521, Test Method for Determination of Asbestos in Soil was developed by Subcommittee D22.07 on Sampling and Analysis of Asbestos, part of ASTM International Committee D22 on Air Quality.

According to Alan Segrave, division manager, laboratory services, Bureau Veritas, and an ASTM D22 member, many materials that are analyzed for asbestos are man-made and contain known types and quantities of asbestos. Testing soil presents a unique set of challenges.

“For soils, the asbestos is not typically homogeneous, and the soil matrix tends to mask lower levels of asbestos,” says Segrave. “A method was needed to address soils where an accurate assessment of what is in the sample could be determined.”

D7521 covers procedures to:

  • Identify asbestos in soil;
  • Provide an estimate of the concentration of asbestos in the sampled soil; and
  • Provide a concentration of asbestos reported as the number of asbestos structures per gram of sample.

“D7521 can be used for property transfers (Phase I assessments), brownfields or Superfund sites for pre-cleanup and post-cleanup assessment, initial surveys of soils and downstream migration studies of soils,” says Segrave. “Anyone who needs to test soils for asbestos will benefit from D7521. Laboratories will be able to test the samples the same way using the procedure, providing consistency and interpretation of results.” Regulatory bodies may specify the use of the test method to ensure compliance for applicable local, state and federal laws regarding asbestos.

Segrave notes that all interested parties are invited to participate in the ongoing development of D7521.

“We are open to collaboration with others to improve the method or to use the method for other areas of interest, such as risk assessment,” says Segrave. “Now that we have a method to determine asbestos in soil, this opens up the door for other potential research.”

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CONTACT Technical Information: Alan M. Segrave, Bureau Veritas North America Inc. • Kennesaw, Ga. • Phone: 770-590-6706 | ASTM Staff: David Bradley • Phone: 610-832-9681 | Upcoming Meeting: April 14-17 • April Committee Week • Indianapolis, Ind.

This article appears in the issue of Standardization News.