At some workplaces, exposure to asbestos fibres cannot be completely ruled out even today. Those affected are, for example, workers in renovation and maintenance work. Currently, an acceptance threshold of 10,000 fibres/m³ applies to asbestos fibres at the workplace. DGUV Information 213-546 regulates how this threshold is to be determined. At the workplace, the fibres are first collected on a filter and then counted. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX) are used for the analysis.
In line with the precautionary principle, concentrations should generally be as low as possible. A suitable analytical method should therefore be able to detect concentrations as low as 1,000 F/m³. However, this can currently only be achieved with a tenfold increase in evaluation effort.
In the current DGUV-funded research project, software is therefore being developed that can determine the concentration of respirable fibre dust on filter samples largely automatically. The software will combine an automated image acquisition with a largely automated image analysis for fibre detection and measurement, which includes the possibility of an automated EDX analysis of acquired fibres. There will be automated classification of fibres and evaluation of the analysis, including the necessary reporting.
The software should make it easier for companies to collect fibre concentrations at workplaces effectively and cost-efficiently. After an evaluation phase, it is planned to make the software available free of charge on the homepage of the BAuA (Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) together with the DGUV.
Unit 4.5 "Particulate Hazardous Substances, Advanced Materials"