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2010 Asbestos Conference on Laboratory Issues

On January 28-29, 2010, the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) Committee D22 on Air Quality sponsored the Michael E. Beard Asbestos Conference 2010:  Laboratory Issues.  This year’s conference, held in San Antonio, Texas was named in honor of Michael E. Beard (1940-2008) who served as Chair of ASTM International Subcommittee on Sampling and Analysis of Asbestos for many years.  This committee is responsible for developing methods for monitoring asbestos  in different materials and has hosted six conferences on these issues at Johnson State College and the University of Vermont, beginning in 1986.  Mr. Beard was a long-time supporter and organizer of the ASTM International Johnson Conferences on asbestos.

Presentations at this conference focused on asbestos issues as they relate to people working in laboratories, users of analytical data, as well as those who interpret the results of laboratory investigations.  The conference showcased some of the most recent investigations and included discussions of new ideas and interpretation of the data.

Conference Highlights

The conference agenda highlighted four areas of interest for scientists and laboratories studying asbestos exposure, including:

1.    Analysis of soil and other media

2.    Quality assurance, training, and inter-laboratory studies

3.    Definitions of asbestos, cleavage fragments and NOA (naturally occurring asbestos) considerations

4.    Issues of laboratory interactions with NVLAP (National

Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program), assessors and government agencies

These issues are relevant not only to people diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis and the medical teams treating them, but to commercial interests and government regulators too.  Researchers from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH), and New York State Department of Health were among the scheduled speakers.

Test for Detecting Asbestos in Vermiculite

A presentation on a possible new method for detecting asbestos in Vermiculite attic insulation could help homeowners who may have this material in their houses.  This asbestos-containing product was mined at W.R. Grace’s mines in Libby, Montana and distributed nationally.  Another presentation explains a technique to distinguish sepiolite from chrysotile used in industrial gasket materials.  Lastly, there was a presentation on a new ASTM draft method for fibers in floor tiles.

Three Presentations by James Millette, Ph.D.

One of the symposium’s co-chairs, James Millette, Ph.D., made three presentations.  The first topic covered the analysis of soil and other media, the second was an overview of a method to analyze talc for asbestos, and the third discussed the practical aspects of cleavage fragment and asbestos determination.  The law firm of Galiher DeRobertis Waxman has worked with Dr. Millette and many other distinguished experts to investigate claims of people injured by exposure to asbestos and asbestos-containing products