Monitoring of airborne asbestos fibers in an urban ambient air of Mashhad City, Iran: levels, spatial distribution and seasonal variations


Asbestos, as with other pollutants in the air, has adverse effects on the health of human beings and animals. Today, the relationship between presence of asbestos fibers in the air breathed by humans and developing serious diseases such as lung cancer (asbestosis) and mesothelioma has been proven. The objectives of this study were to monitor the levels of asbestos fibers in ambient air of Mashhad, Iran during 2018, and to draw its Geographic Information System (GIS) distribution map for the city. In this descriptive study, 13 sampling points in Mashhad city were chosen. Sampling of asbestos was carried out for 3 hour during summer and winter at 2018. Sampling of asbestos was performed using MCE (Mixed Cellulose Ester) membrane filters (pour size 0.45 µm; diameter: 25 mm) and cassette holder and peripheral pump. The samples were the analyzed by the phase contrast microscopy (PCM) method (NIOSH7400). Also, to investigate the type of asbestos and for more accurate counting of fibers, Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) analysis was utilized. Meteorological parameter were recorded through portable devices. To draw the graphs, Excel, R and Arc GIS software were used. Results showed that the mean asbestos fiber concentrations were equal to 11.40 ± 2.14 and 14.38 ± 2.52 f/L in summer and winter, respectively. The maximum level of asbestos fiber was detected in the station of Baitolmoghaddas square by 26.64 ± 2.14 and 19.3 SEM f/L in winter and summer, respectively. High concentration of asbestos fiber observed in this study can be attributed to the heavy traffic, the presence of prominent industries in the vicinity of the study area, and topographic features. The results from this research recommends that suitable controlling policies should be regulated to reduce both ambient air asbestos and its adverse health endpoints in Mashhad.

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The authors received financial and technical support for this research from Mashhad University of Medical Sciences. We would like to express our thanks to the Air Quality Control Company (AQCC) of Mashhad for providing air pollutants data.

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Correspondence to Farzad Fanaei.

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Moteallemi, A., Minaei, M., Tahmasbizadeh, M. et al. Monitoring of airborne asbestos fibers in an urban ambient air of Mashhad City, Iran: levels, spatial distribution and seasonal variations. J Environ Health Sci Engineer (2020).

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  • Asbestos aibers
  • Ambient air
  • GIS, Mashhad City