Dust Characterization

MicroVision Labs offers general dust characterization services for commercial/industrial applications (Dust ID PLM and Dust ID PLM & SEM).  These analyses are useful in various situations such as tracking down irritants or allergens (e.g. molds, pollens, glass fibers, soots) and in analyzing the appearance of unusual particles (large volumes, abnormally dark or colored dust) in a home, office, factory, or final product.  They allow for the composition of any volume of dust to be characterized, assisting clients in determining where potential problems may originate, in tracking the changes over time, or in charting changes across multiple sites or processes. 

For home owners with dust issues we suggest contacting a local indoor air quality (IAQ) consultant, preferably a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) for any dust issues.  With just a site visit they can often identify your problem without any testing.  Should testing be needed they will know how and where to take a sample.  We work with many CIH’s and can give you a recommendation or you can find one at the American Board of Industrial Hygiene (ABIH). 

We also have analyses specifically designed for identifying and quantifying soot or other combustion products (Soot Analysis) and wildfire related particles (Wildfire Analysis) in dust samples. 


Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM) is a powerful, efficient and cost effective method to identify a broad range of microscopic particle types.  Our experienced analysts use polarized light imaging techniques to provide a general overview of what is present in the dust from a given sampling site. Visual estimations, reported as percentages, are conducted on each category detected.  These categories include, biologicals (pollen, spore-like particles, skin scales, hair, insect parts, etc.), mineral matter (lime, gypsum, quartz, etc.), cellulose fibers, synthetic fibers, glass fibers, paint chips, metallic fragments and soots (oil, wood) and other categories specific to each sample environment.  Additionally, SEM and EDS can be used to differential opaque particles, gain elemental concentration information for minerals or salts, and investigate aggregates as is the case with our Dust ID PLM & SEM Analysis. 


PLM analysis produces a report that clearly explains what was detected, how much was detected, and discusses what these findings could indicate.  In addition, PLM color digital images, documenting the optical properties and morphology of the dust components in the samples, accompany the report.  The combination of these techniques provides a complete and precise analysis of the sample. 

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