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About DustScan

DustScanAQ is the new trading name for DustScan Ltd; we have recently rebranded to reflect our growing air quality consultancy expertise and involvement in air quality matters. DustScan Ltd was established in 2004 as a spin-off company from Leeds University. The firm is based in Oxfordshire, UK.

Dust & Particulate Characterisation

DustScanAQ, has developed a wide range of dust analysis techniques for particulate matter assessment. This is also known as ‘dust characterisation’. Valuable information can be obtained through the analysis of environmental dust samples; either those collected with specific dust sampling equipment (such as collected on a sticky pad, or a filter), or those collected from a dusty surface such as a warehouse floor or a windowsill.

In addition to our exclusive computer-based analyses (see DustScan Analysis) we routinely carry out other tests, both in-house or at accredited research laboratories and often expand the range of analyses undertaken.

 These analyses include:

  • Gravimetric analyses (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. Filter cassettes from fine particulate samplers (health-risk dust/AQO) and from personal monitors where airborne concentrations of particulate matter are required to assess concentration in relation to Workplace Exposure Limits (WEL) are also weighed.

  • Optical microscopy of dust on sticky pads, glass slides and of loose dust samples in house. Microscopes are linked to digital cameras, to capture detailed photomicrographs of dust samples with up to 60 x magnification. Individual dust particles are identified and specific investigations made for organic wastes, cellulose fibres and certain minerals, that may be relevant in forensic investigations or the characterisation of dust sources.

External laboratories are used for:

  • Scanning Electron Microscopy with Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (SEM-EDS) where a more detailed investigation and characterisation of dust particles is required 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.

  • Detailed inorganic chemical analyses using Inductively Coupled Plasma -Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS), and Inductively Coupled Plasma – Optical Emission Spectrometry (ICP-OES) are used to obtain the weight proportion of a comprehensive suite of elements such as arsenic, copper, cadmium, and lead. These can often be reported to very low concentrations (parts per billion) and as such ICP analyses can be used for environmental forensic investigations to trace dust propagation from specific sources or activities.

  • Laser granulometry is used to determine the sizes and distributions of sampled dust.

DustScan Analysis

The DustScan computer-based scanning and analysis system was specifically designed for dust annoyance assessment and is far more sensitive than any other method we’re aware of.


Optical microscopy is a useful tool in dust characterisation and environmental forensics.

Elemental and Chemical Analysis

DustScanAQ uses Scanning Electron Microscopy coupled with Energy Dispersive Spectrometry (SEM-EDS) to investigate sample morphology and chemistry.

Gravimetric and Other Testing

A commonly-used method of assessing the level of dust annoyance or ‘nuisance’ is the mass deposition rate of settled dust, typically expressed in terms of mg/m2/day (milligrams per square metre per day).

DustScanAQ would be pleased to hear from you if you would like to discuss your requirements and how we can help you with your project, please contact us on 01608 810110 or email


DustScanAQ provide low cost dust monitoring solutions. We supply directional and depositional sticky pad dust gauges, gravimetric filter-reference PM10 and PM2.5 samplers and also specify and install real-time air quality and meteorological monitoring equipment. Our dust monitoring equipment has many applications; from compliance requirements to detailed assessments of particulate movements arising from industrial, commercial, construction or other activities. Dust monitoring also provides us with samples used for forensic analysis of potential and actual contamination.