The extent of asbestos contamination in drinking water and its relationship with water aggressiveness in the distribution network in Tuscany was investigated. Fifty-nine samples of drinking water were collected and analysed for asbestos content by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and X-ray dispersive microprobe. Every sample was also analysed to determine water aggressiveness. Asbestos fibres were detected in 24% of samples, at concentrations which were always lower than 0.04 million fibres/L. In 79% of these samples, asbestos fibres could have been released into the water from asbestos-cement pipes; in the remaining 21% they may have originated from asbestos-containing aquifers. 43% of the waters were non-aggressive, 54% moderately aggressive and 3% highly aggressive. Samples of aggressive water taken from asbestos-cement pipes were too few to determine any significant correlation between aggressiveness of drinking water and release of asbestos fibres from asbestos-cement pipes.

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