Well-characterized amphibole asbestos mineral samples are required for use as analytical standards and in future research projects. Currently, the National Institute for Standards and Technology Standard Reference Material samples of asbestos are listed as 'Discontinued'. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has a goal under the Asbestos Roadmap of locating and characterizing research materials for future use. Where an initial characterization analysis determines that a collected material is appropriate for use as a research material in terms of composition and asbestiform habit, sufficient amounts of the material will be collected to make it publicly available. An abandoned mine near Lone Pine, California, contains a vein of tremolite asbestos, which was the probable source of a reference material that has been available for the past 17 years from the Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL) in the UK. Newly collected fibrous vein material from this mine was analyzed at Research Triangle Institute (RTI International) with some additional analysis by the US Geological Survey's Denver Microbeam Laboratory. The analysis at RTI International included: (i) polarized light microscopy (PLM) with a determination of principal optical properties; (ii) X-ray diffraction; (iii) transmission electron microscopy, including energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy and selected-area electron diffraction; and (iv) spindle stage analysis using PLM to determine whether individual fibers and bundles of the samples were polycrystalline or single-crystal cleavage fragments. The overall findings of the study indicated that the material is tremolite asbestos with characteristics substantially similar to the earlier distributed HSL reference material. A larger quantity of material was prepared by sorting, acid-washing and mixing for sub-division into vials of approximately 10 g each. These vials have been transferred from NIOSH to RTI International, from where they can be obtained on request.
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