Journal Article

  • Identifying and managing asbestiform minerals in geological collections
    Horak, J., Faithfull, J., Price, M., Davidson, P.
    Journal of Natural Science Collections, Volume 3, pages 51 - 61

    Asbestos is widely recognised as a serious hazard, and its industrial use is now banned within the UK, and EU, and strict regulations govern the use of older manufactured materials which may contain asbestos. However, asbestos is also a natural geological material, and may occur in museum collections as minerals or constituents of rock specimens. In the UK the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (CAR 2012) provides the legal framework for the safe identification, use and disposal of asbestos. However, these regulations, and other EU regulations, provide no specific guidance on dealing with potentially asbestos-containing natural materials. CAR 2012 specifies just six asbestos minerals although a number of other minerals in museum collections are known to have asbestiform structures and be hazardous, including other amphiboles, and the zeolite erionite. Despite the lack of specific guidance, museums must comply with CAR 2012, and this paper outlines the professional ad-vice, training and procedures which may be needed for this. It provides guidance on identification of potential asbestos-bearing specimens and on procedures to document them and store them for future use, or to prepare them for professional disposal. It also makes suggestions how visitors, employees and others in a museum can be protected from asbestos as incoming donations and enquiries, managed in the event of an emergency, and safely included in displays.

    Keywords: Asbestos minerals; Hazardous fibrous minerals; Asbestos management; The Control of Asbestos Regulations, 2012; Health & safety