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Earth Materials and Human Health

Task 3—Using imaging, field and laboratory spectroscopy to map and analyze asbestiform non-asbestiform mineral dust, wildfire smoke, and oil plumes

Task Chief: Gregg Swayze

This task investigated the spectral properties of mineral dusts and their source rocks to a) determine the detection limits of field and laboratory spectroscopy techniques for various minerals that form asbestiform and nonasbestiform varieties, and b) determine if spectral signatures of the dusts and/or the source rocks can be used to remotely identify and map the distribution of naturally-occurring asbestos. Work in collaboration with geologists from the California Geological Survey provided very useful results that help distinguished the spatial distribution of potential asbestos-forming minerals in areas underlain by serpentinite rocks in El Dorado and Plumas Counties.

The task also investigated spectral signatures of a variety of other earth materials, including dusts from building collapses, dusts from dry lake beds, soils, bacteria-containing materials, and gases. The goal was to test if spectral remote sensing methods could be developed to detect and map a wide variety of potentially hazardous minerals, compounds, and pathogens in the environment.

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