Introduction/T​erms

Why use the Asbestos Analysts Reg​​istry?

Organizations, and their affiliated Analysts, involved in the performance of fiber counts of air samples, on the job site or in a laboratory, that wish to demonstrate and ensure that they have sound quality practices should be a part of this program. The AAR maintains minimum standards of conduct for the quality control procedures and practices of fiber-counting operations. The AAR's Asbestos Analysts Testing (AAT) proficiency program is one of the largest statistically valid airborne fiber-counting quality control programs in the world. All enrolled analysts must maintain proficiency in the AAT program to meet all requirements for registration.

Who uses the AA​​R?

People who require qualified fiber counters to analyze their asbestos-containing fiber in air samples. View the AAR Directory of Registered Organizations and Analysts.

What is the differ​ence ​between the IHPAT Program for Asbestos and the AAT proficiency testing programs?

The Industrial Hygiene Proficiency Analytical Testing (IHP​AT) for Asbestos operated by the AIHA Proficiency Analytical Testing Programs, is a proficiency testing program designed for laboratory participation. The laboratory submits data, which determines the proficiency testing performance of the laboratory. The performance report demonstrates the proficiency status of the laboratory. For additional information on the IHPAT program, please visit the AIHA Proficiency Analytical Testing Programs' website​.

The Asbestos Analysts Testing (AAT) program is a proficiency testing program designed to demonstrate the proficiency status of the individual analysts enrolled with an AAR Registered organization. Only Analysts enrolled in the AAR program can participate in the AAT program. Each enrolled analyst submits AAT data, which determines the proficiency testing performance of the individual analyst. The performance report shows the proficiency status and registration status of all enrolled analysts for the organization.

The samples provided by the IHPAT and AAT programs are generated by our vendor using the same method, however, the IHPAT samples are analyzed by an individual analyst representing the laboratory, and the AAT samples are apportioned among the individual enrolled analysts for individual analysis of the sample.

What is a Registered Analyst in th​e AAR program?

A Registered Analyst in the AAR Program has met all the following requirements of the program and maintains their status through successful participation in the AAT program. An organization’s analysts’ current registration and proficiency status can always be demonstrated by the organization’s most recent AAT Performance Results Report (you must contact the organization directly to review their AAT reports). Registered Analysts and organizations can be found on the AAR Directory.

Registration Requirements:

  • A Registered Analyst’s affiliated organization is Registered; the organization has submitted an application that has been reviewed and approved by meeting all the requirements of the most current AAR Policy.
  • The analyst has submitted an application that has been reviewed and approved by meeting all the requirements of the most current AAR Policy, demonstrating compliance with the quality control procedures of the NIOSH 7400 method.
  • The analyst has completed two (2) consecutive rounds of the Asbestos Analysts Testing (AAT) proficiency program with no greater than 2 outliers in the two rounds.

Organization ​Application

How does an organization apply f​​or the AAR?

Download the AAR Policy, AAR Application and the AAR Program Fee Schedule. The AAR Policy outlines the quality system requirements, policies for participation and registration process of the AAR. The AAR Application must to be completed to enroll in the program for both the organization and the affiliated analysts to be enrolled with your company. It is not possible for analysts to be enrolled in the program without an affiliated organization. Forms 1-7 are the organization portion of the application and Forms 8-10 are the analyst portion of the application. Follow the application instructions and submit your application electronically with the required attachments and fees. An initial organization must pay the Initial Application and Filing Fee, the Annual AAR Fee, the Enrollment Fee (per analyst), the Annual Fee (per analyst), and the Asbestos Analysts Testing Fee for the rounds of the year (1 set must be purchased for every 5 analysts enrolled) upon enrollment; subsequent years the annual and AAT fees are invoiced in January.

How long does it take to become an AAR​ Registered Organization?

The approval process for the organization takes approximately three months after the receipt of the organization application at the AIHA Registry Programs. However this time can be longer depending upon the completeness of the required application information submitted by the organization to AIHA Registry Programs and if the application materials meet the technical requirements of the program.

It is strongly recommended that an organization does not submit an application unless they can submit a complete application.

Analyst Applica​tion

How does an analyst apply for the AAR?

An analyst must be affiliated with an AAR organization to submit an application; refer to the AAR Policy for the definition of affiliation. See "How does an organization apply for the AAR" to enroll as an analyst with a new organization.

Application: The analyst must complete and submit an application that demonstrates their quality control work with their current organization. Download the Analyst Add Forms and the AAR Program Fee Schedule. Follow the instructions and complete the forms. Submit the forms, required attachments, and fees electronically.

Fees: An analyst application must include the Enrollment Fee (per analyst) and the Annual Fee (per analyst). A set of Asbestos Analysts Testing for the remaining rounds of the year must be purchased if the addition of the analyst brings the total number of analysts to the next multiple of 5 (1 set is required for every 5 analysts enrolled).

How does an analyst transfer to another AA​R organization?

An analyst transfer follows the exact same application process as a new analysts. Analysts that have previously been enrolled in the AAR program may transfer to or re-enroll with an approved AAR organization by submitting an application that demonstrates their quality control work with the current organization.

An analyst must be affiliated with an approved AAR organization to submit an application; refer to the AAR Policy for the definition of affiliated. See "How does an organization apply for the AAR" to re-enroll as an analyst with a new organization.

Application: Download the Analyst Add Forms, and the AAR Program Fee Schedule. Follow the instructions and complete the forms. Submit the forms, required attachments, and fees electronically.

Fees: An analyst application must include the Enrollment Fee (per analyst) and the Annual Fee (per analyst). A set of Asbestos Analysts Testing for the remaining rounds of the year must be purchased if the addition of the analyst brings the total number of analysts to the next multiple of 5 (1 set is required for every 5 analysts enrolled).

How does an analyst apply as an expedited analyst for the AAR?

An expedited analyst enrollment follows the exact same application procedure as any analyst (see "How does an analyst apply for the AAR?" or "How does an analyst transfer to another AA​R organization?" for the procedure), however the application review process and AAT proficiency determination are expedited.

Expedited analysts can only begin their AAT participation with a retest rounds. Expedited enrollment is not currently available for enrollment into a regular round.

Expedited enrollment will not allow you to enroll an analyst into the current round past the Final Enrollment Deadline or the Enrollment Deadline for Samples (if the enrollment requires additional AAT samples).

Application Review: The review process is expedited. The application is given priority in the review queue. Responses are expected in 10 business days.

AAT Proficiency: An expedited analyst is enrolled into a retest round. The analyst will analyze that retest round and the next regular round to demonstrate proficiency.

How long does it take to become a Registe​​red Analyst?

The AAR analyst registration process can take up to six months.

The analyst must:

  • successfully participate in two consecutive rounds of the AAT program scoring no mo​re than two outliers;
  • the analyst 's organization must be a Registered Organization; and
  • the analyst's application must be approved.​

Removal from Program

How do you remove or drop an​ analyst from the AAR?

To remove or drop an analyst from the AAR, the organization or analyst must complete and submit the analyst drop form (Form 11 of the AAR Application).

The form can be uploaded to our File Transfer web page, submitted via email, fax (703-207-8558) or post (AIHA Registry Programs, 3141 Fairview Park Dr Ste 777, Falls Church, VA 22042).

Note, enrolled analysts who do not participate in two (2) consecutive AAT rounds, without an approved exemption, will be administratively dropped from the AAR program (AAR Policy, Article III, Section 3.9.1) without further notice.

How does an organization remove itself from the AAR?

An organization that wishes to end its participation in the AAR program must contact the AIHA Registry Programs in writing. The AAR Organization Drop Form or a written request can be uploaded to our File Transfer web page, submitted via email, fax (703-207-8558) or post (AIHA Registry Programs, 3141 Fairview Park Dr Ste 777, Falls Church, VA 22042). Note that annual participation fees are non-refundable; unused AAT sample fees will be refunded. Upon the drop of an organization from the AAR, its affiliated analysts will also be dropped from the program.

AAR Quality Control Requirements

What are the personnel training requirements? ​

Each analyst must successfully complete a NIOSH 582 (or equivalent) course in Asbestos Fiber Counting and must be able to provide documentation of this completion (course certificate and outline).

If an organization uses an in-house training program, this training must be verified by the use of a written protocol with performance criteria. Training shall include a minimum of 30 hours of contact and analytical time by a qualified instructor.

The analyst must also be trained in the organization's Quality System. The training elements and dates of completion must be documented by the organization. An analyst must have Quality System training with every organization for which they work.

Are currently or previously enrolled/registered analysts required​​ to have a probationary period upon hire?

Yes, as part of any new employee's training with an AAR organization, the organization shall evaluate the new employee's skills and training to determine the employee's level of competence and compliance with the organization's QA program requirements. This should be accomplished during a probationary period.

The length of probation is determined by the analyst's ability to conform to the method and QA program requirements. The AIHA Registry Programs recommends a probationary period of at least two weeks. Documentation of the new employee probationary period is required to maintain or reinstate AAR Registered Analyst status. See AAR Policy, Article II, Section 2.2.4.

Do I have to utilize the NIOSH 7400 ​method?

In accordance with AAR program policies, approved organizations and their affiliated analysts must follow the current revision of the NIOSH 7400 analytical method of fiber analysis.

What are the equipment requ​irements?

Equipment must be suitable for the analyses performed. A phase contrast microscope that meets the criteria in the OSHA standard for asbestos or the latest version of NIOSH Method 7400 must be available. As well as the equipment detailed in the latest version of NIOSH Method 7400, including a graticule, a phase-shift test slide and the items necessary to prepare the sample filters for analysis.

What Quality Control procedu​res are required for AAR participation?

Organizational procedures must include sample custody, tracking, and reporting. Analytical procedures must be written and include the requirements of the AAR Policy and the AAR Application. For example equipment setup and microscope alignment, field calibration, sample preparation, analytical procedure, counting, calculations, and precise adherence to the latest version of NIOSH Method 7400.

What must be included in an AAR Quality Manual (however named)?

A written description of the quality control program must be provided in a Quality Manual or Standard Operating Procedures. This program must include the requirements of the AAR Policy and AAR Application. For example routine or scheduled maintenance, microscope resolution and calibration checks each time the microscope is set up, analysis of blanks, recount analysis, replicate counting practices and use of control charts, proficiency checks of analysts, specific quality control procedures for on-site counting, items 3-5 to conform to Appendix A of the OSHA Standard for asbestos, participation in Inter-laboratory Fiber Exchange Program (Round Robin), and precise adherence to the latest version of NIOSH Method 7400.

What are the required element​s of a Quality Manual?

A Quality Manual must outline the elements of a quality assurance program, which are outlined in the AAR Policy and the AIHA ​Laboratory Quality Assurance Manual​. The AIHA Laboratory Quality Assurance Manual is available for purchase through the AIHA Marketplace and is a reference document providing general guidance for the establishment of a comprehensive quality assurance program.

It is also an acceptable practice for an organization to acquire the services of a quality consultant to assist with the development of a QA program manual. Refer to the AIHA's Consultants List for a listing of qualified consultants.

What is a fiber-counting round rob​in?

A round robin is an exchange of samples among at least three separate organizations (minimally, your organization and two others), culminating in a statistical comparison of results, organized by the organizations. To meet AAR program, NIOSH 7400 and OSHA requirements, each organization must participate in a round robin program at least twice annually. Your other participating round robin organizations must all be involved in fiber counting operations, but do not need to be involved in the AAR or any AIHA program.

A guidance document​ discussing the minimum recommendations for a round robin program may be obtained by clicking here.

A list of organizations seeking fiber counting round robin participants is maintained on this website. Additionally, the AAR Directory of Registered Organizations and Analysts, AIHA PAT Program's IHPAT for asbestos participants, or AIHA-LAP, LLC IHLAP Accredited PCM Asbestos labs may provide a source for round robin participants on a regional and national level, as all of these organizations/laboratories must be in a program.

Note, AAT or IHPAT participation does not meet the requirement of a round robin program as defined by the NIOSH 7400 method or the AAR program.

What are referenc​e slides and how are they obtained?

Reference slides are permanently mounted filter preparations created by the organization from multiple sources, such as AAT samples and field samples, that have statistically derived reference values and limits of acceptability that have been determined by the organization. Industrial Hygiene Proficiency Analytical Testing Program (IHPAT) and/or Asbestos Analytical Testing (AAT) Program proficiency samples and statistically validated client or working samples representing the fiber-loading ranges outlined in the NIOSH 7400 method shall be included in a well-developed reference library.

To statistically validate any reference test slide, a minimum of 20 readings must be obtained. The mean value of these readings will then be considered the reference value for the test slide, and the standard deviation will be considered the limits of acceptability.

To comply with the requirements of the NIOSH 7400 method, at least one reference slide must be analyzed by each analyst prior to fiber counting any real-world or client samples. Best quality control practices would also dictate that a reference slide is analyzed prior to analysis of a proficiency sample or round robin sample. The selection of the slide must be random and must, over time, include all loading ranges.

To meet the requirements of the AAR program, each analyst must provide reference slide data for at the three fiber-loading ranges detailed in the NIOSH 7400 method and the AAR Policy and demonstrate that the data are evaluated for acceptability on a real-time basis. See AAR Policy, Article II, Section 2.3.7.1 for more information.

How is an analyst's coefficient of variatio​​n determined?

There are a variety of methods for determining an analyst's coefficient of variation or intracounter relative standard deviation. This statistic describes the variability of data obtained by a single counter.

The NIOSH 7400 method and the AIHA Laboratory Quality Assurance Manual require the use of replicate analyses of reference slides to determine the intracounter variability for each fiber-loading range. The OSHA ID-160 method requires the construction of a CV curve. There have also been a number of articles published advocating the use of the recount analyses to determine an analyst's coefficient of variation for each fiber-loading range. All of these approaches are considered statistically valid and acceptable for AAR program compliance.

The analyst's relative standard deviation (or coefficient of variation) must be determined to properly evaluate the 10 percent recount acceptability. Additional assistance in understanding the statistics involved with all of these approaches may be obtained by contacting a consultant.

What are control charts and​ how are they constructed?

Quality control charts are used to reveal variation in analytical performance from a historical record for the same procedure. Accuracy and precision control charts work together to demonstrate the reliability of the analytical method.

Control charts are tools that can be used to identify assignable causes such as systematic bias, imprecision or random errors. Guidance on the development of a quality control chart can be found in the AIHA Laboratory Quality Assurance Manual and cited references. Development of a quality control chart for each reference slide is recommended by the AAR program to determine the acceptability of daily reference slide analysis for each counter.

How often should I use the Phase Shift test slide?

The NIOSH 7400 method requires the "periodic" use of a phase-shift test slide by "each microscopist/microscope combination" to check the phase-shift detection limit. The frequency of use must be determined by the organization and stated in the organization's QA manual. Prior to determining this frequency, the organization should evaluate whether its microscopes are used in a field or laboratory setting and if analysts share the same microscope. As a minimum, the phase-shift test slide should be used every time a microscope is moved from one location to another and each time a new microscopist/microscope pairing occurs. The periodic use of the phase-shift test slide by every enrolled analyst must be documented to meet AAR program requirements.

The current version of the NIOSH 7400 method does not require a specific phase-shift test slide. Previous versions of the NIOSH 7400 method required the use of the Mark II HSE/NPL test slide. This slide's production was stopped several years ago and was replaced by the Mark III slide. OSHA and NIOSH have issued a clarification document to help analysts properly use the Mark III slide.

What are the B c​​ounting rules?

The "B" counting rules are alternate counting rules contained in the NIOSH 7400 method. The "B" rules are slightly different from the "A" rules and are to be used for nonasbestos fiber counting such as fiberglass and man-made mineral fibers.

The OSHA regulations (29 CFR 1910.1001) require the analyst to only count fibers equal to or longer than 5 µm with a length-to-width ratio of 3:1 or greater. This is consistent with the "A" counting rules outlined in the NIOSH 7400 method.

The "A" counting rules must be used to maintain compliance with AAR program requirements and must also be used in the IHPAT program.

NIOSH 582 E​quivalent Training

Can the NIOSH 582 e​​quivalent course be taught in-house?

This course may be taught in-house so long as equivalency can be demonstrated. To document equivalency, a course syllabus with a minimum of 30 classroom hours must be provided to the AIHA Registry Programs when an analyst that has taken the in-house course enrolls.

Your organization's course can be reviewed and listed by the AIHA Registry Programs by submitting an application.

Where can I get mor​​e information?

If you have additional questions or need assistance​, please contact the AIHA Registry Programs at (703) 846-0755 or email. Your feedback will help to improve the usefulness of this website.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​