The use of diffuse reflection infrared spectroscopy for the quantitation of asbestos is investigated. The highly absorbing matrices that are typically present in an asbestos sample are addressed by the incorporation of an ashing technique that separates the asbestos from any cellulose matrix. The details for recovering microgram amounts of asbestos from the crucible after ashing are also described. About 0.01% by weight of amosite asbestos in cellulose can be detected. In addition, a curve-fitting program is used to assist in quantitation of two-component asbestos mixtures and in the quantitation of asbestos in the presence of china clay, a silicate commonly associated with asbestos insulation. The method shows that about 3 mu g of amosite can be detected in a matrix composed of four times this mass in chrysotile and four times in kaolin.

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