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Environ Sci Technol. 2011 Oct 1;45(19):8233-40. doi: 10.1021/es2008227. Epub 2011 Sep 12.

Application of synchrotron microprobe methods to solid-phase speciation of metals and metalloids in house dust.

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  • 1Department of Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering, Queen's University , Kingston, Ontario K7L 3N6, Canada.


Determination of the source and form of metals in house dust is important to those working to understand human and particularly childhood exposure to metals in residential environments. We report the development of a synchrotron microprobe technique for characterization of multiple metal hosts in house dust. We have applied X-ray fluorescence for chemical characterization and X-ray diffraction for crystal structure identification using microfocused synchrotron X-rays at a less than 10 μm spot size. The technique has been evaluated by application to archived house dust samples containing elevated concentrations of Pb, Zn, and Ba in bedroom dust, and Pb and As in living room dust. The technique was also applied to a sample of soil from the corresponding garden to identify linkages between indoor and outdoor sources of metals. Paint pigments including white lead (hydrocerussite) and lithopone (wurtzite and barite) are the primary source of Pb, Zn, and Ba in bedroom dust, probably related to renovation activity in the home at the time of sampling. The much lower Pb content in the living room dust shows a relationship to the exterior soil and no specific evidence of Pb and Zn from the bedroom paint pigments. The technique was also successful at confirming the presence of chromated copper arsenate treated wood as a source of As in the living room dust. The results of the study have confirmed the utility of this approach in identifying specific metal forms within the dust.

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