Numerous methods have been used in the preparation and analysis of the particulate matter deposited in human lungs. Preparation techniques include those for particle isolation and for in situ analysis. Analytical techniques include bulk and particle-by-particle analysis. In this paper, a general discussion of many of these methods is presented along with examples of how two specific techniques have been used. In one study, individual particles from the lungs of 75 randomly selected autopsy cases were analyzed using an automated scanning electron microscopy (SEM)/ energy dispersive X-ray microanalysis (EDX) system. An average of 613 million particles, of exogenous origin, per gram of dry lung tissue were found, the major classes of particles being silica, talc, aluminum silicates, and rutile. In the second study, lungs from 50 randomly selected autopsy cases were analyzed using gravimetric and X-ray diffraction (XRD) analysis. The median total particulate material was 0.33 grams, for cases in which samples were prepared by high temperature ashing, and 0.41 grams, for those in which nitric acid digestion was used. The median amount of quartz for all cases, was 0.044 grams. Samples of eighteen of the 75 lungs previously analyzed by automated SEM/EDX were also analyzed using gravimetric and XRD analysis. A good correlation was seen between the results of the two procedures (r=0.91 for number of exogenous particles versus grams of particulate matter and r=0.97 for number of silica particles versus amount of quartz).
Mastin, J. P.; Stettler, L. E.; and Shelburne, J. D.
"Quantitative Analysis of Particulate Burden in Lung Tissue,"
Scanning Microscopy: Vol. 2:
3, Article 37.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/microscopy/vol2/iss3/37