Asbestos fibres are a major cause of disability and death in the construction, decommissioning and related industries.

The ‘Porpardet’ project will address this through developing two innovative complementary portable automatic detection systems, based on novel concentrating and analysis methods for asbestos particles and certain other harmful materials of widespread concern, eg mineral quartz/silica. One system will be a wearable device with an immediate alarm, the second will provide rapid on-site quantitative analysis – both will have the ability to record exposure over time with a novel filter cassette.

This equipment will directly improve the health protection of the individual, and reduce the potential cost of their healthcare provision and possible costs of litigation. It will be of great value to the manufacturing, construction, waste disposal sectors, and emergency services. It will allow application of relatively inexpensive resources in a rapid manner, but with proper risk management.

The automation and simplicity foreseen will allow an ease of use and therefore an uptake in use which will not only lead to wider control, but will also allow moderate production costs for the equipment – which uses many elements now emerging from other industries such as low-cost lasers. The project will deliver two new products with related consumable sales. The products will be designed, manufactured, distributed and serviced by the SME partners within the project. It is estimated that the new products could generate a new market in excess of 12 million Euro per annum for the SME partners. The SME partners will be responsible for the manufacture, supply of the optics, filter system, detector system, image capture software and final assembly of the full system. A number of partners will use the test equipment to service a range of end users, most of which are also SMEs.