EGU General Assembly 2022
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the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Tremolite and actinolite asbestos as micro-reservoirs for Potentially Toxic Elements (PTEs) : implications for human health

Rosalda Punturo1, Claudia Ricchiuti1, Andrea Bloise2, Maria Rita Pinizzotto3, and Carmelo Cantara3
Rosalda Punturo et al.
  • 1University of Catania, Dpt Biological, Geological, Environmental Sciences, CATANIA, Italy (
  • 2University of Calabria, Department of Biology, Ecology and Earth Sciences,I-87036 Rende, CS, Italy
  • 3Arpa Sicilia – Agenzia Regionale Protezione Ambiente UOS Divisione Analitica 2 e specialistica (Centro riferimento AMIANTO) – Catania, Italy

Nowadays, the toxicity of asbestos mineral fibres is undeniable and well known. It is worthnoting that the mechanism by which these fibers induce adverse effects on human health is not completely understood yet. Major difficulties are related to the wide variability in size, bio durability, molecular arrangement, surface reactivity and chemistry of asbestos fibers. Moreover, the toxicity degree of these hazardous minerals can be further increased by the presence of potential toxic elements (PTEs), especially heavy metals hosted in the fiber lattice.

The present contribution deals with determination of PTEs amount in some tremolite asbestos and actinolite asbestos samples from Episcopia and San Severino Lucano villages (Basilicata region, Southern Italy), in order to assess their potential toxicity.

Micro X-Ray Fluorescence (µ-XRF) and Inductively Coupled Plasma spectroscopy with Optical Emission Spectrometry (ICP-OES) techniques have been used to quantify the concentration of major, minor (Si, Mg, Ca, Al, Fe, Mn) and trace elements (Ag, As, Ba, Be, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Li, Mo, Ni, Pb, Sb, Sn Sr, Ti, Te, V, W, Zn, Zr), with the aim of providing a contribution related to the asbestos toxicity knowledge up to now. Specifically, among minor elements, high amounts of Fe and Mn were found in the studied samples. As far as trace elements are concerned, results revealed high concentrations of Cr and Ni in both the studied samples, thus suggesting high toxicity character of the fibers.

Depending on the pseudo-total PTEs concentrations in either tremolite and asbestos samples, it is possible to speculate that some fiber samples are  more toxic than the other one, inducing adverse effects on human health and environment at various extents. Indeed, PTEs transported through asbestos in the air, water and soils come in contact with the human body and therefore can represent a source of risk to human health.

How to cite: Punturo, R., Ricchiuti, C., Bloise, A., Pinizzotto, M. R., and Cantara, C.: Tremolite and actinolite asbestos as micro-reservoirs for Potentially Toxic Elements (PTEs) : implications for human health, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-8801,, 2022.