Question: What does Polarized Light Microcopy and Trans Electron Microscopy specifically test for and reveal in an Air Quality test?
The Wizard’s Answer: Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM) is a powerful method to identify a broad range of microscopic particle types. Visual estimations, reported as percentages, are conducted on each particle category detected. Results from this analysis provide a general overview of what is present in the dust from a given sample site. Common dust components identified are soots (wood, oil, coal), mineral matter (lime, gypsum, quartz, etc.), biologicals (molds, spores, pollen, skin scales, insect parts, etc.), paint chips, welding spheres, glass fibers, paper dust, synthetic fibers, hair, and metal fragments.
Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) with Energy Dispersive X-Ray Spectroscopy (EDX) is used in air quality testing for particle counting, chemical analysis, high magnification and particle size and morphology analysis
Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) is not typically used in air quality testing, but for things like crystallography.
Question: A friend rents an apartment in PA where she has had a problem most noticable when the furnace runs with a black slime on plastics, window glass, curtains and vents. She was told she is responsible for having the vents cleaned which she will do but would this fix the problem without other tenants doing likewise and what about the rest of the building and the ducts coming from the furnace itself ? It is electric heat, should a good working furnace cause this problem? The maintenance manager who also rents said he had to have his vents cleaned but admits the problem comes back.
The Wizard’s Answer: It seems like you may have poor combustion in the furnace, causing the creation of soot, which is then flowing through the ducts. Electric heat would not produce soot, so my thinking is that you have an oil- or gas-fired furnace that needs significant maintenance. Another possibility, though not as likely, is that the “black slime” is mold which may indicate that there is excessive moisture in the building. I would contact the landlord and have them check into the maintenance of the furnace. Cleaning the ducts should be done after the furnace is repaired.
Thanks for keeping The Wizard busy and remember, The Wizard is a free service, so please don’t hesitate to ask your questions!
Number 39 part 3