The classification of asbestos fibres by scanning electron microscopy and computer-digitizing tablet

Ann Occup Hyg. 1992 Apr;36(2):155-71. doi: 10.1093/annhyg/36.2.155.


Because of the need to completely and accurately size asbestos bulk samples for toxicity studies, a method was developed to classify asbestos fibres using enlarged micrographs originally produced on the scanning electron microscope (SEM). Individual fibre length and width measurements were performed on a computer-assisted, digitizing tablet. This method, though time consuming, permitted the sizing of all fibres (length and width) and particles (area) in selected fields of view at SEM magnifications of x100 and x2500. Final enlargement of the micrographs permitted sizing magnifications of x10,000. Seven distinct asbestos samples were classified including five chrysotile and two crocidolite samples. Statistical analyses showed good interfilter fibre size correlation for all types of asbestos. In addition, it was determined that a representative sizing of all fibres and non-fibrous particles on a filter preparation could be performed using five sets of micrographs taken at a magnification of x2500 and enlarged to x10,000: an inverse square root transformation (-0.5 power) is needed to normalize the distributions of length and width.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Asbestos / classification*
  • Asbestos, Crocidolite
  • Asbestos, Serpentine
  • Crystallization
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Particle Size


  • Asbestos, Serpentine
  • Asbestos, Crocidolite
  • Asbestos