Modelling the Spatial Distribution of Asbestos—Cement Products in Poland with the Use of the Random Forest Algorithm
The unique set of physical and chemical properties of asbestos has led to its many industrial applications worldwide, of which roofing and facades constitute approximately 80% of currently used asbestos-containing products. Since asbestos-containing products are harmful to human health, their use and production have been banned in many countries. To date, no research has been undertaken to estimate the total amount of asbestos–cement products used at the country level in relation to regions or
... ther administrative units. The objective of this paper is to present a possible new solution for developing the spatial distribution of asbestos–cement products used across the country by applying the supervised machine learning algorithm, i.e., Random Forest. Based on the results of a physical inventory taken on asbestos–cement products with the use of aerial imagery, and the application of selected features, considering the socio-economic situation of Poland, i.e., population, buildings, public finance, housing economy and municipal infrastructure, wages, salaries and social security benefits, agricultural census, entities of the national economy, labor market, environment protection, area of built-up surfaces, historical belonging to annexations, and data on asbestos manufacturing plants, best Random Forest models were computed. The selection of important variables was made in the R v.3.1.0 program and supported by the Boruta algorithm. The prediction of the amount of asbestos–cement products used in communes was executed in the randomForest package. An algorithm explaining 75.85% of the variance was subsequently used to prepare the prediction map of the spatial distribution of the amount of asbestos–cement products used in Poland. The total amount was estimated at 710,278,645 m2 (7.8 million tons). Since the best model used data on built-up surfaces which are available for the whole of Europe, it is worth considering the use of the developed method in other European countries, as well as to assess the environmental risk of asbestos exposure to humans.