Analytical techniques that help comply with stringent norms

Always wanted to know about which analytical techniques are most suitable for what types of materials characterization? Dr. Nicholas Norberg, who is an application specialist in Malvern Panalytical’s supply center, will be hosting a live webinar on Wednesday, 12th June, 3pm (GMT+08:00) that discusses methodologies like infrared spectroscopy (IR) and X-ray diffraction (XRD) in the context of stringent monitoring of low quantity respirable silica and asbestos – from as low as 0.1%. He will be able to provide more insight on the plus points and limitations for the identification, quantification and adherence to EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and ISO norms. 

Why the need for stringent control of respirable silica and asbestos? 

When inhaled, the nanoparticles are deposited in the respiratory tract causing various lung conditions like lung cancer or chronic bronchitis. Recently, ovarian cancer was linked to the use of talcum powder containing asbestos fibers. That is why respirable silica and asbestos are major concerns for suppliers and manufacturers who want to ensure safe working conditions for their employees as well as safe-to-use products for consumers. The recent cases of product recall due to asbestos does suggest that current control measures could be improved to minimize the public’s risk.

What are the sources of exposure to respirable silica and asbestos?

Respirable silica is present during the mechanical treatment of silica. This could be quarrying, tunneling, brick and tile making, stone cutting, construction and demolition works, foundry work, grit and sandblasting, etc. These cause the nanoparticles of silica to be airborne and inhaled.

Asbestos has been widely regulated in most countries like Japan but, is still used in countries like India and China. It is favored for its cost-effective, insulating and fireproofing properties. That is why you may often find it in asbestos-containing cement, thermoinsulation for buildings, blankets, fire-resistant materials and talc. Talc is widely used in the production of paints, paper, ceramics, plastics, rubber, health care products and cosmetics.

The good news is that asbestos has been mostly banned from as early as 1970s, so its prevalence is less. However, large quantities of asbestos may still lie in old buildings and machine parts. That is why government agencies and/or people renting or using these old facilities, should check and regulate the asbestos content. Construction companies and government and environmental agencies who are managing the demolition and disposal of these asbestos-containing items, should also take cautionary steps too.

What are the prescribed methods for better monitoring of respirable silica and asbestos

Historically, several analytical methods were used for the quantification of respirable silica, including atomic absorption, colorimetry, gravimetry, microscopy, infrared spectroscopy (IR) and X-ray diffraction (XRD). Most of those methods fell out due to low sensitivity. Nowadays, only IR and XRD are utilized for the respirable silica analyses, as the most sensitive methods allowing to comply with existing norms. Both methods have their pros and cons, but it is generally accepted that XRD is more accurate in identifying silica polymorphs. OSHA ID-142, for example, defines XRD as the only accurate technique for the quantification of crystalline silica in various types of industrial dust.

Find out how Malvern Panalytical’s XRD analytical solutions are able to comply with the stringent EPA and ISO norms requiring quantitative analysis down to 0.1%.

Who should join this webinar?

Join us if you are a supplier and manufacturer and want to learn how to ensure safe working conditions for your employees and safe-to-use products for consumers. Industries include government agencies dealing with environmental monitoring, mine sites, cement plants, construction, paint, paper, insulation, vehicle parts, cosmetics plants and more. Join us too, if you are a researcher and want to have a better understanding of the capabilities and limitations of different materials characterization methodologies. Learn about which analytical techniques are suitable for analyzing what.

Join our live webinar on Wed, 12th June, 3pm Perth time (GMT +0800). Not able to attend in person? Register to receive the link to access the webinar on demand.