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Portable Real Time Detection of Airborne Asbestos Fibres for Tradespersons

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New asbestos sensor could save lives

A group of EU companies and research institutions have built a wearable asbestos sensor for plumbers, builders and technicians exposed to this dangerous chemical.


Asbestos-related diseases are responsible for an estimated 100 000 deaths per year in Europe alone. Despite this terrible occupational hazard, the only way to detect asbestos in the air is to send a sample to a lab for testing. To address this, the EU-funded project 'Portable real time detection of airborne asbestos fibres for tradespersons' (ALERT) aimed to build a real-time, portable asbestos sensor. ALERT brought together expertise in a range of technologies needed to create a sensor. The sensor is based on a decade-old method of detecting asbestos fibres by how they scatter light. Researchers built and tested a prototype detector that can easily be worn by workers. End-user testing provided feedback on ergonomics and ease-of-use. The prototype was tested successfully in industrial, commercial, retail and domestic environments. ALERT reported a success rate of 99 % in identifying airborne asbestos fibres. The ALERT® sensor will now be developed into a commercially available device. Ultimately, the results of this project will help to protect the 30 million workers who are exposed to asbestos fibres in Europe.


Asbestos, sensor, wearable, occupational hazard, real-time detection, airborne asbestos fibres, asbestos fibres, tradespersons, asbestos sensor

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