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Sensors 2011, 11(7), 7231-7242; doi:10.3390/s110707231
Article

Automated Counting of Airborne Asbestos Fibers by a High-Throughput Microscopy (HTM) Method

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Received: 16 May 2011 / Revised: 5 July 2011 / Accepted: 12 July 2011 / Published: 18 July 2011
(This article belongs to the Section Physical Sensors)
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Abstract

Inhalation of airborne asbestos causes serious health problems such as lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma. The phase-contrast microscopy (PCM) method has been widely used for estimating airborne asbestos concentrations because it does not require complicated processes or high-priced equipment. However, the PCM method is time-consuming and laborious as it is manually performed off-site by an expert. We have developed a high-throughput microscopy (HTM) method that can detect fibers distinguishable from other spherical particles in a sample slide by image processing both automatically and quantitatively. A set of parameters for processing and analysis of asbestos fiber images was adjusted for standard asbestos samples with known concentrations. We analyzed sample slides containing airborne asbestos fibers collected at 11 different workplaces following PCM and HTM methods, and found a reasonably good agreement in the asbestos concentration. Image acquisition synchronized with the movement of the robotic sample stages followed by an automated batch processing of a stack of sample images enabled us to count asbestos fibers with greatly reduced time and labors. HTM should be a potential alternative to conventional PCM, moving a step closer to realization of on-site monitoring of asbestos fibers in air.
Keywords: asbestos fibers; phase-contrast microscopy (PCM); high-throughput microscopy (HTM); automated counting; image processing and analysis asbestos fibers; phase-contrast microscopy (PCM); high-throughput microscopy (HTM); automated counting; image processing and analysis
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Cho, M.-O.; Yoon, S.; Han, H.; Kim, J.K. Automated Counting of Airborne Asbestos Fibers by a High-Throughput Microscopy (HTM) Method. Sensors 2011, 11, 7231-7242.

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