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Opt Express. 2013 May 6;21(9):11356-67. doi: 10.1364/OE.21.011356.

Real-time detection of airborne asbestos by light scattering from magnetically re-aligned fibers.

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Centre for Atmospheric and Instrumentation Research, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, Hertfordshire AL10 9AB, UK.


Inadvertent inhalation of asbestos fibers and the subsequent development of incurable cancers is a leading cause of work-related deaths worldwide. Currently, there is no real-time in situ method for detecting airborne asbestos. We describe an optical method that seeks to address this deficiency. It is based on the use of laser light scattering patterns to determine the change in angular alignment of individual airborne fibers under the influence of an applied magnetic field. Detection sensitivity estimates are given for both crocidolite (blue) and chrysotile (white) asbestos. The method has been developed with the aim of providing a low-cost warning device to trades people and others at risk from inadvertent exposure to airborne asbestos.

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