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A Review of the NIOSH Roadmap for Research on Asbestos Fibers and Other Elongate Mineral Particles
Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the National Research Council (NRC) to form a committee to provide a review of the scientific and technical quality of the January 2009 draft NIOSH Roadmap document. This report provides the committee’s assessment of the Roadmap and recommendations for strengthening its utility for NIOSH, other federal agencies, the private sector, and other stakeholders.
TERMINOLOGY:ASBESTOS AND OTHER ELONGATEMINERAL PARTICLES
One of the major challenges faced in conducting research in this field is the terminology. Because the term asbestos does not denote a single mineral but rather is used to encompass a set of minerals with specific industrial characteristics and commercial value, there have been challenges and controversies in determining both what specific set of minerals and what set of characteristics should be included in a definition of asbestos. The current regulatory definitions used by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) define six recognized minerals1 as varieties of asbestos.
NIOSH recognized the need for a term to encompass a broad class of mineral particles of specific size and dimension that are the primary focus of the proposed research in the Roadmap and introduced the term elongated mineral particles2 to attempt to capture this broad range of mineral particles. The committee considers the dimensions described in the NIOSH Roadmap definition (“longer than 5 μm with a minimum aspect ratio of 3:1”) as a good starting point for research. The term elongate mineral particles is a convenient, neutral, and unified means of describing various minerals across different professional disciplines but
The six mineral varieties of asbestos are (1) chrysotile (a member of the serpentine group) and five fibrous forms of the amphibole group, (2) riebeckite asbestos (also termed crocidolite), (3) cummingtonite-grunerite asbestos (also commercially termed amosite), (4) anthophyllite asbestos, (5) tremolite asbestos, and (6) actinolite asbestos.
The committee urges use of the adjective elongate rather than elongated, so as to describe the physical appearance of the particles as opposed to implying that they have been actively lengthened by some means.