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Comparison of mounting methods for the evaluation of fibers by phase contrast microscopy.

Lee EG; Pang TWS; Nelson J; Andrew M; Harper M
Ann Occup Hyg 2011 Jul; 55(6):644-657
The objectives of this study were to evaluate mounting methods for fiber examination of air sample filters by phase contrast microscopy (PCM) and to evaluate differences in fiber counts that might be due to fiber movement. Acetone/triacetin (AT) with various amounts of triacetin and acetone/Euparal (AE) where the mounting medium was placed between the cleared filter wedge and the coverslip were tested as a function of time. Field sample slides collected from a taconite iron-ore processing mill, a tremolitic talc-ore processing mill, and from around a crusher in a meta-basalt stone quarry were prepared with relocatable coverslips to revisit the same field areas on the slides. For each slide, three or four field areas were randomly selected and pictures were taken every 2 weeks to determine any sign of fiber movement over time. For 11 AT slides (named as AT-3.5) prepared with 3.5 ul of the mounting medium according to the NIOSH 7400 method, no fiber movements were detected over 59 weeks. On the other hand, AT slides prepared with larger quantities (10, 15, and 20 ul) of the mounting medium (named as AT-10) and AE slides prepared with approximately 10 ul mounting medium showed fiber movement from the eighth day at the earliest. Fiber movement began earlier for the slides mounted with excess triacetin than for those mounted with Euparal. The sample slide storage method, either vertically or horizontally, did not seem to accelerate fiber movement. Additionally, two other modified methods, dimethylformamide solution/Euparal (mDE) and dimethylformamide solution/triacetin (mDT), were also prepared where the mounting medium was placed between the cleared filter wedge and the glass slide. The findings of fiber movements were similar; when 3.5 ul of triacetin was used for the mDT slides, fiber movements were not detected, while fibers on slides prepared with 10 ul triacetin (mDT-10) moved around. No fiber movements were observed for the mDE slides at any time during 59 weeks. Once fiber movement started, fibers moved over distances measured from 4 um and up to >1000 um within 22 weeks. However, since then, no further fiber movements have been observed in any field sample slides. Additional sample slides, two Amosite and two chrysotile, were prepared from Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) samples using the AT method with 5 ul triacetin mounting medium. Fiber movements were also observed in these samples; chrysotile fibers began to migrate in 3 weeks, while Amosite fiber movement started after 3 months. Although fiber movement was observed for the AT-10, AE, and mDT-10 sample slides, fiber counts were not significantly different from AT-3.5 and mDE samples that exhibited no fiber movement. Although fiber counts would not be significantly changed by fiber movement, the type and amount of mounting medium for sample slide preparation remains critical for issues such as quality assurance and training of analysts by revisiting the same fibers.
Microscopy; Fiber-deposition; Air-sampling-equipment; Filters; Particle-aerodynamics; Particulate-sampling-methods; Particle-counters; Analytical-processes; Asbestos-fibers; Sample-preparation; Talc; Milling-industry; Stone-processing; Stone-mines; Quarries; Measurement-equipment; Author Keywords: asbestos measurement; euparal; fiber counts; fiber movement; mounting method; phase contrast microscopy; relocatable coverslip; triacetin
Martin Harper, Exposure Assessment Branch, Health Effects Laboratory Division (HELD), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), 1095 Willowdale Road, MS-3030, Morgantown, WV 26505, USA
67-64-1; 102-76-1; 14567-73-8; 68-12-2; 12172-73-5; 12001-29-5; 1332-21-4
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Annals of Occupational Hygiene
Page last reviewed: March 18, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division