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Asbestos and MMVFs

Asbestos chemical analysis- White Lab

With White Lab Laboratories, you can carry out any census, sampling and testing activity set by applicable regulations on asbestos and Man-Made Vitreous Fibres (MMVFs) both for the private and public sector.

White Lab Laboratories are included in the list of laboratories meeting minimum requirements and therefore qualified to test asbestos by the Ministry of Health.

Asbestos is a set of minerals belonging to the group of amphibole inosilicates and serpentine phyllosilicates. To become proper asbestos, the starting natural or artificial minerals undergo low-pressure and low-temperature hydrothermal processes. The resulting material is composed of single fibres with dimensions >5 µm in length and a length-width ratio of at least 3:1.

It was used in many industrial sectors until the 1980s because of its physical-mechanical properties. It was used as insulating material in buildings, ships, trains and aircraft carriers, as fibre-cement known with the name of Eternit in construction, as an adjuvant in the filtration of wines and as bottom lining in bread-baking ovens.

As is well known, as asbestos crumbles, it breaks down into fibres. If these fibres are inhaled, they settle in pulmonary alveoli and they stay there even for years, thus increasing the likelihood of developing diseases like asbestosis, pleural mesothelioma, and lung adenocarcinoma.

For this reason, Italian law No 257 of 1992 banned its production and sale, defined the procedures to shut down any asbestos extraction and processing activity, and set out benefits for the workers exposed to asbestos.

At European level, UNI 11870:2022 standard on asbestos containing materials has been recently published to define methods and criteria for the identification and census in buildings, machines, machinery and facilities.

Following the ban on asbestos, the use of man-made vitreous fibres (MMVFs) has increased: amorphous inorganic fibres that are chemically and physically stable, resistant to environmental conditions and microorganisms, non-flammable, with dielectric and thermal and acoustic insulation properties.

Annex VI of Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 on classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures, classifies MMVFs into mineral wool and refractory ceramic fibres (RCF). If their DLG-2ES (‘length weighted geometric mean diameter subtracting two times the standard error’) is greater than 6 μm, they are not considered to be carcinogenic. However, in compliance with the provisions of Italian Legislative Decree No 81/2008, the relevant risk assessment of exposure to MMVFs must be carried out and the consequent pre-emptive measures must be adopted.

The exposure limits to MMVFs are set in Directive 2004/37/EC on the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to carcinogens or mutagens at work amending Directive 2004/37/EC and bringing the limit value of RFC to 0.3f/cm3.

A highly-trained team that is always up to date and state-of-the-art technologies allow to support customers with integrated consultancy, census, sampling, testing services of asbestos and Man-Made Vitreous Fibres (MMVFs).

Services and more information on asbestos and MMVFs

Reference matrices
  • Air
  • Water
  • Soils
  • Natural stone
  • Solid waste
  • Construction waste
  • Refractory material
  • Building materials
  • Roofing and bulk materials
  • Railway ballasts
  • Eluates from leaching test
Methods set in Italian Ministerial Decree of 14 May 1996
  • PCOM - Phase-Contrast Optical Microscopy
  • PLOM - Polarized Light Optical Microscopy
  • SEM/EDS - Scanning Electron Microscopy with Microanalysis
  •  FTIR - Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy
Services related to MMVFs
  • Identification of MMVFs in buildings
  • Assessment of the risk associated to exposure to MMVFs
  • Control plans for on-site preservation of MMVFs
  • Environmental surveys to identify airborne MMVFs
  • Consultancy and technical support for asbestos removal companies
More reference regulations
  • Italian Ministerial Decree of 06/09/1994: Rules and technical procedures for risk assessment, control, maintenance and removal of materials containing asbestos in buildings
  • Italian Ministerial Decree of 14/05/1996: Rules and technical procedures for remediation operations, including the activities to make asbestos harmless
  • Italian Ministerial Decree of 20/08/1999: Extension of the rules and technical procedures for remediation operations, including the activities to make asbestos harmless

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