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Optical MicroscopyOptical Microscopy 

Scanning Electron MicroscopyScanning Electron Microscopy 

Analytical and Laboratory Services

Important dust data can be obtained through the analysis of exposed directional and depositional sticky pads and sub-samples of dust can be selectively sub-sampled for a range of characterisation tests.

We also analyse loose dust samples, “Frisbee” bottle samples, IOM workplace filters and filters from our own PM10 samplers.

Since 2004 we have developed new testing protocols to accompany the monitoring methods employed; these have been established in peer reviewed literature and are now widely used.

Our standard tests include:-

  • Computer-based sticky pad sample scanning of both directional and depositional dust samples. This measurement determines AAC% and EAC% values. The former relates to the level of surface coverage and the latter to the darkness or soiling potential of dust (for more information please see our Guidance Notes, available to download via the Dust FAQs tab)
  • Gravimetric analysis (filter weighing), typically of dust removed from DustDisc sticky pads (or from Frisbee samples in accordance with the SEI-Y Frisbee sampling protocol) where dust mass settlement rate information is required. We also weigh filter cassettes from fine particulate samplers (health-risk dust/AQO) and for samples from personal Workplace Exposure monitors (WEL) where airborne concentrations of particulate matter are required
  • Optical microscopy, of dust on sticky pads, glass slides and of loose dust samples. Our microscopes are allied to digital cameras allowing us to capture detailed photomicrographs of dust samples with up to 60 x magnification. We can identify individual dust particles and have carried out investigative studies looking for organic wastes, cellulose fibres and specific minerals, which may be relevant in forensic investigations and in the characterisation of dust sources
  • Scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive spectroscopy (SEM-EDS), for use when fine dust particles need more detailed investigation and characterisation and when semi-quantitative and qualitative information is needed on the chemical composition of the dust. Particles down to 1 micron can be included in this form of investigation
  • Granulometry (particle size analysis). A Malvern Mastersizer is used to give the distribution of particle sizes within a dust sample; this can determine the proportion of PM10 (inhalable dust) within a sample
  • Detailed inorganic chemical analysis (ICP-MS), gives the weight proportion of elements such as arsenic, copper, cadmium and lead to parts per billion and can be of use in tracing the spread of critical dusts from specific sources or activities.

Other tests are undertaken to appropriate specifications on request and to match particular interests or concerns. Please contact us to discuss your analytical requirements.

*2017 UPDATE* We are continuing to review our methodology and reporting for samples processed by gravimetry. We have recently implemented a more accurate detection limit and blank correction value to our reports to ensure the data our clients receive is of the highest possible quality. We continually review and improve all our analytical work at DustScanAQ. We will be reporting on news and updates more frequently when our new website goes live.