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Particulate Analysis

An effective strategy for determining indoor air quality problem sources is the combination approach of using light and electron microscopy identification of dust components.

Most indoor dusts are composed of relatively common environmental materials including organic and mineral fibers, mineral grains, metal oxides, and biological particulate. These dusts typically have a mixed source, including particulate derived from building materials, textiles, paper dusts, soils, and biological sources. The complete characterization of indoor dusts usually involves a two level analysis. Most of these materials are easily identifiable by polarized light microscopy (PLM) and often this alone is sufficient. Occasionally, additional analysis by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) or, in the case of asbestos, transmission electron microscopy (TEM) may be necessary.

The following is a detailed list of the types of fibers and particulate common to indoor dusts:

  • Mineral Grains
  • Quartz
  • Feldspar
  • Mica
  • Clays
  • Gypsum
  • Carbonates
  • Glass
  • Opaque
  • Metals
  • Metal Oxides
  • Paint
  • Soot
  • Asphalt
  • Rubber/Plastic
  • Mastic
  • Biological
  • Pollen
  • Mold Spores
  • Insect Parts
  • Starch
  • Skin Cells (dandruff)
  • Dust Mites
  • Fibers
  • Cellulose
  • Glass
  • Synthetic
  • Hair
  • Asbestos