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The analysis of bulk samples for asbestos was originally considered best conducted by polarized light microscopy (PLM). EPA published a methodology for this analysis which also permitted the use of x-ray diffraction (XRD). An awareness of the limitations of both PLM and XRD led many laboratories to supplement their PLM analyses with other methods including scanning and transmission electron microscopy and gravimetry combined with any of the previously mentioned techniques. To address these methods, EPA contracted with the Research Triangle Institute to prepare a methodology for the analysis of bulk materials. ASTM is now converting this methodology into an ASTM Standard Method. Carlton Hommel has placed the original RTI document into ASTM format but the resulting document is somewhat lengthy and cumbersome. Current efforts are aimed at splitting this document into more manageable pieces as separate Standard Methods whose applicability will be addressed in an overall Guidance Document. There remains the question of the usefulness of an ASTM bulk method in light of both government and industry's current acceptance of the RTI protocol and their failure to adopt the ASTM PLM method previously published in The Gray Pages.
asbestos, bulk analysis, polarized light microscopy (PLM)
Stewart, Ian M.
Vice President, Analytical Services, RJ Lee Group, Inc., Monroeville, PA