Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Public Health

Major Professor

Raymond Harbison


asbestos, Exposure, gloves, tong sleeve, Transite, wire gauze pad


Introduction: Asbestos has been employed in a myriad of industrial applications for more than a century. Of the 181 Mt of asbestos produced worldwide, over 31 Mt was consumed in the U.S. The production and consumption of this mineral eventually was found to cause asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. While the brunt of the human exposure to asbestos occurred in insulation work, many more workers in other jobs were expose to asbestos fibers. Very little is known about the potential exposure to asbestos in research labs.

Goal: In order to investigate potential research lab work exposures, we simulated lab work with various asbestos-containing items commonly found in research laboratories: 6 wire gauze pads, 3 gloves, 3 beaker tongs, and 3 Transite boards. All samples were analyzed by Phase Contrast Microscopy and, when appropriate, by Transmission Electron Microscopy and Polarized Light Microscopy.

Results: All tested items were confirmed by bulk sampling to have asbestos fibers in their composition. Exposures from the 7 wire gauze pads were significantly lower than the PEL and the excursion limit, the highest exposure concentration measuring 0.029 f/cc. For the 3 beaker tongs with asbestos sleeves, exposure was below the PEL for 2 of the 3, with one resulting in an exposure of 0.160 f/cc (8-h TWA = 0.01 f/cc). For the Transite boards had the highest exposures of all tested items, with a maximum concentration of 0.320 f/cc (8-h TWA = 0.02 f/cc).

Conclusion: Asbestos exposure in our simulated research lab work was significantly lower than any of the historical exposures associated with asbestos-related disease including cancer.