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Ann Occup Hyg. 2002 Apr;46(3):329-39.

Developments in the RICE asbestos fibre counting scheme, 1992-2000. Regular Interlaboratory Counting Exchanges.

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Institute of Occupational Medicine, Edinburgh, UK.


The UK's Regular Interlaboratory Counting Exchanges (RICE) scheme provides proficiency testing for laboratories counting asbestos fibres by phase contrast optical microscopy, as in the method for measurement of airborne fibre concentrations. From 1984 to 1992, the scheme used circulations of industrial samples containing mostly chrysotile, and reference values were obtained from fibre counts by automated image analysis. In 1992, lower density (< 100 fibres/mm2) samples from asbestos clearance operations were added and the new reference values were medians of the laboratories' determinations. In extensive data from 28 recent rounds of sample exchanges, the new reference values are shown to be more reliable than the old. Average counting levels have changed, with different trends according to fibre density. In low density samples, after initial increases, the levels appear to have stabilized. Counting levels on the higher density samples show a continuing trend of approximately 0.5% decrease per round. Widening the density range may have reduced the influence of counters' preconceptions of what values are expected and so their counts on the reference samples may now better reflect their routine counting. The implications of these findings and of other new developments, such as expected new counting rules, are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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