Test results from the Maryland Department of Labor and Industry yesterday showed minimal concentrations of asbestos fibers near a Gaithersburg school that had been a focus of concern this week because gravel containing asbestos had been strewn on a nearby road.
However, one scientist and a local physics teacher took exception when they were told of the results, saying that, because of the equipment and method used, the tests were
Oneill Banks, chief toxicologist for the Maryland Department of Labor and Industry, reported yesterday that the highest concentration of asbestos fibers found anywhere near the schol, Watkins Mill Elementary School, was 0.009 fibers per cubic centimeter, as viewed under an optical microscope.
Banks said this amount would be equivalent to the amount of fibers generated at a busy intersection from the brake linings of motor vehicles. "Essentially, we found no asbestos in any of the locations," he said.
The current federal safety standard for the atmosphere in factories using asbestos in 2 fibers per cubic centimeter, but there is an angry dispute as to whether to make the standard wore stringent.
Robert Harris, head of the Washington-based Environmental Defense Fund, said yesterday, "These numbers (the findings) might have been predicted . . . It's a deception. If you already know that the number of fibers out there are less than you can see with a light microscope (as opposed to a electron more powerful microscope), why bother?"