Exposure to airborne asbestos in thermal power plants in Mongolia

Naransukh Damiran, Ellen K. Silbergeld, Arthur L. Frank, Oyuntogos Lkhasuren, Chimedsuren Ochir, Patrick N. Breysse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Coal-fired thermal power plants (TPPs) in Mongolia use various types of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) in thermal insulation of piping systems, furnaces, and other products. Objective: To investigate the occupational exposure of insulation workers to airborne asbestos in Mongolian power plants. Methods: Forty-seven air samples were collected from four power plants in Mongolia during the progress of insulation work. The samples were analyzed by phase contrast microscopy (PCM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Results: The average phase contrast microscopy equivalent (PCME) asbestos fiber concentration was 0.93 f/cm3. Sixteen of the 41 personal and one of the area samples exceeded the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (US OSHA) short-term exposure limit of 1.0 f/cm3. If it is assumed that the short-term samples collected are representative of full-shift exposure, then the exposures are approximately 10 times higher than the US OSHA 8-hour permissible exposure limit of 0.1 f/cm3. Conclusion: Power plant insulation workers are exposed to airborne asbestos at concentrations that exceed the US OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit. Action to mitigate the risks should be taken in Mongolia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-141
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015


  • Asbestos exposure
  • Chrysotile asbestos
  • Insulation
  • Mongolia
  • Thermal power plants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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