IOM Research Expertise

AFRICA: Asbestos fibre counting

AFRICA (Asbestos Fibre Regular Informal Counting Arrangement) is an international proficiency testing scheme for laboratories measuring airborne asbestos fibre concentrations using the standard optical microscopy method.

AFRICA tests participating labs twice a year. Participation in the AFRICA Scheme provides members with the following benefits:

  • Regular, twice-yearly batches of test samples to analyse. These batches include a range of asbestos sample types, including those familiar to participants, but also less familiar types;
  • A Provisional Results Report comparing the participant's results to reference counts, sent directly to the participant following submission of counts;
  • Where required, an Updated Results Report following screening of samples at the end of the round;
  • A Group Summary Report at the end of each round outlining the counts obtained within each group, allowing the participant to compare their results to those of other laboratories in their group;
  • An End of Round Report that provides a general overview of performance during the round, allowing laboratories to compare their performance to that of participants as a whole;
  • An individual Laboratory Certificate at the end of each round, which can be displayed and shown to others (authorities, clients etc.);
    Feedback to comments made by participants on slides in their batch, following screening by an internal microscopist;
  • The option of additional feedback for participants who receive a '3' (poor performance) rating.

Additional benefits of membership include:

  • For experienced asbestos laboratories, comparison with similar organisations in other countries;
  • For less experienced laboratories, performance improvement through comparison with international asbestos fibre counting standards;
  • A link between proficiency testing schemes in different countries;
  • Contribution to participants' internal quality assurance programmes;
  • Opportunities to exchange news, advice and opinions on asbestos monitoring matters.

An application form for AFRICA is available to download below, and provides timings and prices of the current rounds. If you wish to join AFRICA, please send the completed form to

Details of the scheme's operational procedures and a recent summary report from the scheme are also available to download below.  Current members can also download the results reporting form here: