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J Aerosol Sci. 2011 Jun;42(6):408-418.

A Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy Method for Determining Manganese Composition in Welding Fume as a Function of Primary Particle Size.

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Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Baltimore, MD 21205 USA (work completed at this location).


Increasing evidence suggests that the physicochemical properties of inhaled nanoparticles influence the resulting toxicokinetics and toxicodynamics. This report presents a method using scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) to measure the Mn content throughout the primary particle size distribution of welding fume particle samples collected on filters for application in exposure and health research. Dark field images were collected to assess the primary particle size distribution and energy-dispersive X-ray and electron energy loss spectroscopy were performed for measurement of Mn composition as a function of primary particle size. A manual method incorporating imaging software was used to measure the primary particle diameter and to select an integration region for compositional analysis within primary particles throughout the size range. To explore the variation in the developed metric, the method was applied to 10 gas metal arc welding (GMAW) fume particle samples of mild steel that were collected under a variety of conditions. The range of Mn composition by particle size was -0.10 to 0.19 %/nm, where a positive estimate indicates greater relative abundance of Mn increasing with primary particle size and a negative estimate conversely indicates decreasing Mn content with size. However, the estimate was only statistically significant (p<0.05) in half of the samples (n=5), which all had a positive estimate. In the remaining samples, no significant trend was measured. Our findings indicate that the method is reproducible and that differences in the abundance of Mn by primary particle size among welding fume samples can be detected.

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