The New York State Asbestos Laboratory’s primary responsibility is the manufacture and shipment of quality proficiency test samples (PTs) to environmental laboratories participating in the New York State Environmental Laboratory Approval Program (ELAP). The Asbestos Laboratory also performs basic and applied research, method development, as well as analysis of unknown, possibly suspicious, materials often referred to as “white powders”.

The types of analysis typically performed include:

  • Bulk building material analysis by Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM)
  • Non-organically bound (NOB) building material analysis by PLM
  • NOB analysis by Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM)
  • Airborne fiber analysis by Phase Contrast Microscopy (PCM)
  • Airborne fiber analysis by TEM
  • Potable and non-potable water analysis by TEM
  • Material analysis by Fourier-Transform Infrared Spectroscopic Microscope (FTIR)

Accreditation: NY Items 198.1, 198.4, & 198.6; 40CFR 763 subpart E, App A; 40CFR 763 subpart E, App E; 40CFR 763 APX A No. III; EPA 600-M4-82-020/PLM; EPA 100.1; EPA 100.2; NIOSH 7400; NIOSH 7402; NELAP – E37911; NYS ELAP – 10762; EPA – NY00005

Proficiency Testing: The laboratory produces and sends 2 light microscopy and 2 electron microscopy PT shipments per year. The PT program is described on the ELAP web pages. The light microscopy PTs include bulk samples for analysis by ELAP Item #198.1 and/or EPA 600 as well as fiber analysis by NIOSH 7400. The electron microscopy PTs include samples for TEM analysis by AHERA and/or Yamate, Agarwile & Gibb, ELAP Item #198.6, NIOSH 7402, and EPA 100.1 and/or 100.2.

Academic Programs: Students in the School of Public Health are able to have a laboratory rotation in the Asbestos Laboratory. Research projects are developed in order to best meet the academic interests of the student as well as those of the laboratory. Additionally, the laboratory has assisted, trained, or instructed students to further their individual research projects outside of laboratory rotations.

Research and Development: Presently, the Asbestos Laboratory is performing research related to the analysis of materials which contain vermiculite for asbestos. ELAP Item #198.8 “Polarized-Light Microscope Method for Identifying and Quantitating Asbestos in Sprayed-On Fireproofing Containing Vermiculite Bulk Samples” (2014) is the result of some of this research. Papers are presently being readied for publication related to method 198.8 as well as micro-cellulose ester filter morphology as it relates to preparation and TEM analysis.


Getman M, Webber J, Bowser S. An examination of MCE filter morphology and implications on preparation and analysis of air samples for asbestos. J Occup Environ Hyg. 2017; 14 (9): 140-144.
Ward TJ, Spear TM, Hart JF, Webber JS, Elashheb MI. Amphibole asbestos in tree bark--a review of findings for this inhalational exposure source in Libby, Montana. J Occup Environ Hyg. 2012; 9 (6): 387-397.
Getman MRC and Webber JS. Heated Asbestos: Analytical Challenges Posed by Heating of Crocidolite and Other Fibrous Amphiboles. Microscope. 2008; (56): 29-36.
Webber JS, Czuhanich AG and Carhart LJ. Performance of Membrane Filters Used for TEM Analysis of Asbestos. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene. 2007; 4 (10): 780-789.
Ward TJ, Spear T, Hart J, Noonan C, Holian A, Getman M and Webber JS. Trees as reservoirs for amphibole fibers in Libby, Montana. Sci Total Environ. 2006; 367 (1): 460-465.
Webber JS, Getman M and Ward TJ. Evidence and reconstruction of airborne asbestos from unconventional environmental samples. Inhal Toxicol. 2006; 18 (12): 969-973.