Electron Microscopic Analysis of Airborne Asbestos Fibers

Patrick N. Breysse, Eric Steele

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Scanning and transmission electron microscopic (SEM and TEM) methods for airborne asbestos analysis are reviewed. Electron microscopy has been used since the 1950s to evaluate airborne asbestos size distributions. More recently, methods have been developed to evaluate airborne fiber concentrations in occupational and nonoccupational environments. Developments of recent SEM and TEM methods are presented and discussed. This review focuses on filter preparation, fiber counting, and fiber identification issues. Issues discussed include the type of electron microscope to be used, SEM or TEM; the type of filter media to be used, Nuclepore polycarbonate of membrane filter varietes; and the choice of sample transfer technique, direct or indirect. Due to limited analytical capabilities, SEM methods have received limited use. Standardized TEM analytical methods have been developed, resulting in the routine use of TEM analysis for airborne air samples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-227
Number of pages27
JournalCritical Reviews in Analytical Chemistry
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Jan 1991


  • SEM
  • TEM
  • asbestos
  • electron microscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry


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