Environmental asbestos pollution — Situation in Poland

Department of Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology, Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine, Łódź, Poland
Department of Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology, Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine, św. Teresy 8, 91-348, Łódź, Poland
Department of Environmental Health Hazards, Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine, Łódź, Poland
Int J Occup Med Environ Health 2012;25(1):3–13
Objectives: Environmental exposure of the general population to asbestos in Poland is mainly due to degradation of very popular asbestos-cement products and the resultant release of the elementary asbestos fibres into the ambient air. Assessments of environmental pollution by asbestos were based on the volume of the raw material used, amount of manufactured asbestos products, and measuring the concentration of fibres in the air. Material and Methods: Under the governmental program intended to remove asbestos, measurements of the concentration of asbestos fibres were performed in 2004–2010 in all provinces of Poland. Considering that potential sources of asbestos dust emissions were present in residential areas, 1634 sampling sites were designated. From 2 to 4 air samples were collected at each sampling site. A total of 5962 samples were collected during seven years. A single dose of air collected by 25 mm 0.8 μm pore Sartorius filter was 1,300 litres. The fibres were counted using optical microscopy with phase contrast (PCM) on a polarizing microscope (PLM) at a total magnification of 600×.; method was adapted to determine the concentration of asbestos fibres in non-occupational environment. Results: Mean concentration of asbestos fibres was 492 f/m3 (95% CI: 467–518). In 82% of the sampling sites, the mean concentrations did not exceed 800 f/ m3. As much as 25.8% of the samples were found to be below the detection limit of the method. Estimated mean concentrations of fibres in different provinces ranged from 146 (95% CI: 106–203) to 709 f/m3 (95% CI: 591–851). In the areas affected by former asbestos-processing plants, mean concentration was 732 f/m3 (95% CI: 527–1016) and was significantly higher than levels recorded in other areas of Poland. Conclusion: Asbestos consumption per capita and the recorded moderate levels of asbestos fibres concentration in atmospheric air point to a relatively low level of environmental asbestos pollution in Poland.