DFA undertake Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) analysis to provide detailed visual and chemical insight into the nature of contamination. Scanning Electron Microscopy produces images magnified 10,000x, which is ten times more powerful than traditional optical microscopy, providing detailed information far beyond that of typical methods of microscopy.
EM analysis produces its images by scanning the surface of the material under analysis with a focused beam of electrons. The electron beams interact with the sample’s atoms, with the SEM then producing signals and readout data that provide insight into the surface composition and topography. A secondary part of this process is also analysis of the atomic structure using Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (EDAX). EDAX analysis then provides chemical and elemental characterisation of the given sample, which when coupled with SEM imagery allows for pinpoint analysis of the constituent parts of a given sample.
SEM and EDAX analysis is used by DF&A to:
- Identify different types of surface and airborne particulate contaminants
- Identify harmful contaminants e.g. lead paint, asbestos fibres etc.
- Assess the extent of fire related contamination (soot) to surfaces
- Analyse chemical contaminants within pipework or water sources
- Assess carbon deposits on machinery and associated components
- Analyse and speciate mould
- Analyse the morphology and chemistry of unknown contaminants
- Assess biological infestations e.g. mites, parasites etc.