Dust and Crystalline Silica

Overexposure to dust in the air can be hazardous to employees in the workplace which can result in health problems. Dust and chemical exposure-related deaths make up 99% of work-related fatalities in Britain. Often dust particles pose the biggest threat as they go unnoticed to the naked eye.

Substances such as Quartz (the most common form of crystalline silica) and other crystalline silica phases cause serious lung disease and are widely present in dusts associated with quarrying, construction work and other workplace environments.

Dust monitoring, which involves measure and analysing dust levels, often plays a key role in managing workplace exposures to hazardous substances.

What is Dust Particle Analysis?

Once dust levels have been measured, we undertake gravimetric analysis of dust samples which can then be further analysed for other substances.


We can analyse for crystalline silica using X ray Diffraction (XRD), if there is a likelihood that quartz and/or high temperature silica phases such as cristobalite may be present (e.g. refractory products), or by infrared spectroscopy (IR) if quartz is the silica phase of interest (e.g. quarries, stone masonry).


Our scanning electron microscope (SEM) can be used to examine dust constituents at high magnification which when combined with elemental analysis by EDX can enable us to help clients identify specific dust sources such as cement dust or aluminium salt from a local stack.

SEM can be a powerful tool in the identification or elimination, of potential dust sources, causing a nuisance in the general environment or concern in work and other indoor environments.

How our experts can help?

  • Carry out dust monitoring
  • Analyse dust samples for potential hazardous substances
  • Offer a range of analytical methods
  • Help clients identify specific dust sources

Around 99% of work-related deaths in Britain are from exposure to dust and chemicals. In 2017/18, 144 people died in workplace accidents but around 13,000 died from cancer or respiratory diseases caused by past occupational exposures.

IOM is a UKAS accredited testing laboratory No 0374; covering the gravimetric analysis of dust on filters, crystalline silica by XRD and quartz by IR.

Contact: Steve Clark, 0131 449 8000, or complete the Quick Quote form below:

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