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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.

Optical Microscopy

Optical microscopy is a useful tool in dust characterisation and environmental forensics. An in-house methodology has been developed at DustScanAQ that is based on established techniques employed in a variety of fields such as mineralogy, petrography, palynology, and pedology. 

DustScanAQ uses a standard petrological microscope with additional lighting capabilities to analyse mounted dust samples. With this setup, it is possible to view dust samples under different lighting conditions including reflected light, plane polarised (transmitted) light and cross polarised (transmitted) light. Typically, microscopy is used to examine the physical properties of dust including the colour, morphology, approximate size, relative proportion, lustre, as well as opacity and other refractive properties.

Dust samples collected using DustScan directional or depositional dust monitoring equipment may be analysed by removing a sub-sample of the material and mounting on a glass slide. Loose deposited dust sweepings can also be prepared for analysis in a similar manner.

It is useful to obtain reference samples of materials handled on-site to use as a comparison. Any samples collected by clients using methods other than DustScan monitoring equipment should be supplied in a clear polythene bag or suitable sealable container.

The results of the analysis are presented in a short detailed report with example images of the materials observed and a brief written interpretation. Common materials that can be identified include; mineral grains, metallic fragments, organic and synthetic fibres, pollen, coal dust, and tyre rubber.


Daniel Quinn

Daniel Quinn
Senior Consultant

Discuss your requirements with our Senior Consultant

If you would like to discuss any of your Microscopy needs with our Senior Consultant we can organise an initial call to understand your exact requirements. Please call us on +44 (0)1608 810110 or email Daniel Quinn using the email button below.


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.