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Mobilization of asbestos fibers by weathering of a corrugated asbestos cement roof

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  • 2021

Mobilization of asbestos fibers from a 60-year-old corrugated asbestos cement roof was studied in material samples collected from a domestic house in Southern-Norway. Samples included pieces of the roof itself, rainfall simulated run off-water and moss growing on the roof surface. Weathered roof debris below the rain water system was investigated for asbestos fibers leached from the roof, and air samples were collected for asbestos concentrations in ambient air. Micrographs obtained by scanning electron microscopy show that weathering exposed asbestos fibers on the deteriorated roof surface. A high number of fibers found in the run off-water as well as in the weathered roof debris sample illustrates that exposed fibers are prone to mobilization. Investigation of weathering-induced magnesium depletion by scanning electron microscopy energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy of asbestos fibers collected from the moss, roof underside and surface revealed that fibers had MgO weight % comparable to reference material. The major element chemistry of the fibers is therefore unaltered. Our findings demonstrate that care must be taken when working on and handling old corrugated asbestos cement roof as asbestos fibers might be released. In order to limit exposure to mobile fibers, moss covering asbestos cement roof should not be removed.

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene 18(3): 110–117
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