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9 questions and answers on chrysotile and health

  • Question 9

    Fibre-Cement construction materials: What is the contribution to the environment resulting from the use of chrysotile in fibre cement materials?


    Chrysotile cement was invented in Austria in 1901 and has been widely used every since worldwide. By mixing chrysotile fibre with cement, this chemical and physical links allows the manufacture of a lighter and stronger slate. Thus, this strong link between the fibre and the matrix does not allow the fibre to become airborne, even in areas of heavy water and wind erosion.

    Studies undertaken in areas where chrysotile cement materials are widely used show that their contribution to the presence of chrysotile fibres in the environment is not significant.

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    References for Question 9:

    Teichert U (1986). Staub Reinhaltung der Luft. 46:432-434

    Data pertinent to the extent of possible emissions from A/C construction products and the air concentrations in various countries have been obtained at different times from 1980 to 1997.

    In Germany, the study of emission on coated and uncoated and coated roofing materials revealed low asbestos fibre concentrations, even though severe corrosion was observed on uncoated asbestos cement roofs and a considerable quantity of materials containing asbestos could be removed by blowing and suction. Yet, asbestos fibre concentrations that were measured in populated areas were well below the level considered acceptable by German health authorities, i.e.: clearly below 1000 fibres per cubic metre.

    Felbermayer W, and Ussar MB (1980). Research Report: Airborne asbestos fibres eroded from asbestos cement sheets. Institute fur Umweltschutz and Emissionsfragen, Leoben, Austria.

    In Austria, a comparison of the asbestos fibre concentrations in those areas with and without asbestos cement roofing (< 0.0001 f/ml) led to the conclusion that there is no statistically significant connection between the use of asbestos cement materials and the asbestos fibre concentrations found in the various measurement areas.

    Safety & Welfare of Western Australia (1990). Report of the Working Party on Asbestos Cement Products

    In Australia, possible contribution from asbestos cement roofing materials of school buildings to the air concentrations in the vicinity of these buildings was studied. It was found that measurements were mostly < 0.0002 f/ml.

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