Analytical Approach for Asbestos Identification

By introducing a dedicated asbestos objective to their Nikon Eclipse polarising microscopes, Asbestos Analysis Laboratory Ltd (AAL), a contract laboratory specialising solely in the analysis of bulk samples for the determination of asbestos content, has been able to gain far clearer images of the tell-tale fibres it is looking for.

The Nikon Eclipse polarising microscope.

Figure 1. The Nikon Eclipse polarising microscope.

Microscopy Identification of Asbestos

According to Steve Platkiw, the Managing Director, “We bought our Nikon Eclipse polarising microscopes because of the superb quality of their optics. We knew from experience that the non-Nikon dispersion staining objectives, traditionally used for the identification of asbestos would degrade the effectiveness of the Eclipse optics. We asked Nikon if they had a solution which would allow us to harness the full capability of the Eclipse optical performance.”

Clearer Imaging of Asbestos

“Nikon Instruments recommended using their own dispersion staining objective in conjunction with a phase annulus between the condenser and the microscope stage. When we tried it, we found that it provided far clearer images of the asbestos fibres, and a more vivid rendition of their distinctive colours, making positive identification far easier and significantly reducing the margin of analytical error, particularly on low density samples such as textured coatings. An additional bonus was that the alternative solution was relatively cost neutral.”

Summary

Shortly after configuring the new microscopes with the phase annulus, AAL was visited by UKAS for its annual reassessment and Steve recalls, “The assessor was slightly confused by the absence of the traditional dispersion staining lens, but saw the logic after just one glance down the microscope.” AAL was keen to gear up for the increase in workload it expects as new regulations, concerning asbestos in domestic premises, come into effect.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Nikon Instruments.

For more information on this source, please visit Nikon Instruments.

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