Abstract

Naturally occurring asbestos (NOA) has been a well-known issue within rock quarries for a long time. In France, the subject has recently become more controversial, particularly since 2013. In fact, some mineral fibers with the chemical composition of regulated asbestos (i.e., actinolite) have been discovered in road-base aggregates and associated air filter samples. The main problem concerns the determination of the asbestiform versus non-asbestiform character of such mineral particles. The in-force standard based on the morphological identification of a fiber does not allow one to make this distinction. Presently, in France, the asbestos analysis of building material is based on a “yes” or “no” result. This method has limitations for analyzing NOA, as NOA may be present in lower concentrations in natural materials, especially in road-base aggregates. The health effects of the non-asbestiform particles, also called “cleavage fragments,” with fiber morphology are not well established. The French government mandated the National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety to conduct a review on the “state of the art” concerning the cleavage fragment issue. The conclusions of the report highlight the fact that elongate mineral particles (EMPs) are up for debate and address remaining questions concerning this subject. The next fundamental step is to secure agreement on the terminology of EMPs with the aim of comparing the studies in different disciplines.

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