Covered by ultrabasic units for more than a third of its surface, the New Caledonia (South West Pacific) is one of the largest world producers of Ni-ore from lateritic deposits. Almost all outcrops of geological units and open mines contain serpentine and amphibole, also as asbestos varieties. In this geological context, in which weathering processes had a great contribution in the production and dispersion of mineral fibres into the environment, the development of a routinely analytical strategy, able to discriminate an asbestiform fibre from a non-harmful particle, is a pivotal requisite. However, the acquisition of all these parameters is necessary for determining the risk associated to fibres exposition. A multidisciplinary routinely approach, based on the use of complementary simply-to-use but reliable analytical methods is the only possible strategy. In addition, the instrumental apparatus must be easily transportable on the field, directly on the mining site. The employment of specialized tools such as Polarized Light Microscopy associated to Dispersion Staining method (PLM/DS) and portable Raman spectroscopy for identification of environmental asbestos, are proved extremely effective in the improvement of the performance and rapidity of data acquisition and interpretation. Both PLM/DS and handheld Raman devices confirmed to be discriminant in the detection and characterization of asbestos fibres for both serpentine and amphibole. Furthermore, these techniques proved extremely effective even in the presence of strongly fibrous and altered samples.
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