Scanning Electron Microscopy

Lucion Environmental

Lucion Environmental is accredited by UKAS for Airborne asbestos fibre determination and fibre counting using SEM (Scanning Electron Microscopy) and EDS (Energy dispersive spectroscopy).

Put in simple terms the addition of our Scanning Electron Microscope now enables magnification of up to 200,000x, with fibre counting at 2000x, as opposed to 500x magnification when using a Phase Contrast Optical Microscope (PCOM) method. X-ray diffraction enables identification of the fibre type i.e. differentiates asbestos from other non asbestos fibres.

Current government policy is to leave asbestos in situ and manage it through preventing disturbance to it. This approach is sensible and pragmatic for low risk, well bounded materials, but does not adequately control the risk presented by higher risk materials such as asbestos insulation boards, lagging and sprayed coating.

There is an acute need to determine whether there are elevated asbestos fibre level concentrations in buildings and whether the occupants of buildings are being exposed to this risk.

Reassurance air monitoring by PCOM, commonly to a limit of detection of 0.01 f/cm3,  is inadequate for detecting fibre asbestos concentrations experienced through normal occupation, but remains the favoured  pragmatic technique for detecting the higher concentrations produced when asbestos is disturbed.

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Air monitoring via SEM has a limit of detection of 0.0005 f/cm3 and is a useful technique to determine long term occupational exposure levels, produced by normal occupation: SEM is the best practicable technique for determining the asbestos risk in buildings known to contain asbestos.


SEM is often used to determine the real time workplace asbestos fibre risk to support the advocacy of existing management practices, reassuring both occupants and employees of their commitment to safeguard against unsafe workplaces. In addition to this many of our clients will also undertake asbestos fibre air monitoring to provide evidence of ACM management efficacy to futureproof against possible mesothelioma claims.

How to take SEM Samples- Click here

Our state of the art laboratory has expanded to accommodate a stand alone soils laboratory for the qualitative and quantitative identification of asbestos in soils.

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