“Application of Scanning Electron Microscopy for Pollution Particle Source Determination in Residential Dust & Soil”

1995:20:Millette, Brown

Scanning, Vol 17: 302-305


Many tons of electric furnace flue dust accumulated in an industrial area in Tifton, Georgia. Vehicles transporting the flue dust, classified as K061 hazardous waste because it contained lead and cadmium, initially dumped the material in a warehouse. Once the warehouse was full, the flue dust was dumped in uncovered piles. Run-off from the piles and wind-driven particles had the opportunity to contaminate nearby industries, residential buildings, and neighborhood soils over a period of many years. Scanning electron microscopy-energy dispersive x-ray spectrometry (SEM-EDS) was used to compare the morphology and chemical composition of fly ash dust from the suspect pile with samples collected from the surrounding buildings and soil.

Adhesive samplers were used to collect dust that had accumulated in buildings surrounding the fly ash dump site. Suspect dust particles were analyzed by SEM-EDS and compared with known dust particles from the fly ash pile. Soil samples were dried, sieved, and the fines analyzed by SEM-EDS for comparison with samples from the fly ash pile. Fly ash particles similar in morphology and chemical composition to the fly ash in the suspect pile were identified in most of the buildings sampled surrounding the fly ash dump site and in all of the soil samples analyzed surrounding the dumpsite. This case study illustrates the usefulness of applying morphology and chemistry information acquired by SEM-EDS for pollution particle source determination.

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