Photograph of  LARGER IMAGE - tremolite asbestos, non-asbestiform tremolite, collected from the same sample of asbestos slab ceiling insulation Asbestos under the microscope
     

  • ASBESTOS UNDER the MICROSCOPE - CONTENTS: How to recognize asbestos under the microscope. Photographs of asbestos fragments (above) & fibers under the microscope. Tremolite asbestos micro-photographs
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about how asbestos is identified in various materials, asbestos identification microscopy, & what asbestos looks like microscopically
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Asbestos particles examined by microscope: photographs provided on this page illustrate what asbestos fibers or fragments may look like under the polarized light microscope.

In this article we provide photographs and descriptive text of asbestos insulation and other asbestos-containing products to permit identification of definite, probable, or possible asbestos materials in buildings. This document assists forensic investigators, laboratories, building buyers, owners or inspectors who need to identify asbestos materials (or probable-asbestos) in buildings by simple visual inspection and confirmed by asbestos test lab or forensic microscopy lab examination.

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Asbestos under the microscope: Micro photographs of Asbestos

Tremolite asbestos on a ceiling (C) D FriedmanWhile an expert lab test using polarized light microscopy may be needed to identify the specific type of asbestos fiber, or to identify the presence of asbestos in air or dust samples, many asbestos-containing building products not only are obvious and easy to recognize, but since there were not other look-alike products that were not asbestos, a visual identification of this material can be virtually a certainty in many cases.

Our photo (left) illustrates pure tremolite asbestos used as fireproofing on a building ceiling in New York. Our forensic lab photographs of tremolite asbestos (below) were collected from that ceiling. More about this building can be read
at ASBESTOS FIREPROOFING SPRAY-On Coatings.

Also
see ASBESTOS DUCTS, HVAC a field identification guide to visual detection of asbestos in and on heating and cooling system ducts and flue vents,

and see Micro-Photographs of Dust from the World Trade Center collapse following the 9/11/01 attack. Links to U.S. government and other authoritative research and advice are included.

Photograph of - tremolite asbestos, asbestiform tremolite, collected from asbestos slab ceiling insulation Photograph of  LARGER IMAGE - tremolite asbestos, non-asbestiform tremolite, collected from the same sample of asbestos slab ceiling insulation

Here are two photographs showing what a sample of asbestos ceiling fireproofing (tremolite asbestos) looks like in our lab microscope using polarized light microscopy (PLM). Notice that in the first photo you see long very thin multi-fibrous filaments - asbestiform tremolite.

Each filament is less than one micron in diameter. In the second photograph you'll observe non-fibrous granular particles, many less than one micron in diameter as well - non-asbestiform tremolite. [McCrone]

This asbestos sample was collected from slabs of nearly pure tremolite asbestos which was used
as FIREPROOFING ASBESTOS SPRAY-ON in a commercial building.

McCrone illustrated that tremolite asbestos (as well as some other forms of asbestos) occur in both fibrous and non-fibrous form. Comparing the photo at below left (tremolite in fibrous form) by McCrone to ours (above right) that shows fewer small non-fibrous particles, but a clear bundle of ultra-fine sub-micron (in width) fibers.

Photograph of - tremolite asbestos, asbestiform tremolite, collected from asbestos slab ceiling insulation Photograph of  LARGER IMAGE - tremolite asbestos, non-asbestiform tremolite, collected from the same sample of asbestos slab ceiling insulation

 

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