Electron Microscopy Service

The Electron Microscopy Unit assists in the service delivery, research and teaching functions of the Pathology Division and the Occupational Hygiene Section. It is equipped with a transmission (TEM) and a scanning (SEM) electron microscope. The SEM is linked to an analyzer for energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS).

The main interest of the unit is asbestos and asbestos related disease. Lung fibre burdens are analyzed to assist with the compensation process. Data from this service work is collected on a data base, allowing correlations with exposure histories and diagnoses to be made. Air samples from work places and the environment along with bulk materials are also analyzed. In addition to fibres, other particulates can be analyzed from lung tissue. The unit has participated in research projects and has collaborated with researchers in the USA and UK. Research has been carried out in collaboration with doctors and scientists at the University of the Witwatersrand, the NHLS and other Divisions within the NIOH. The Unit participates in local and international quality assurance schemes.

Electron MicroscopyElectron Microscopy

Scanning electron micrograph showing asbestos fibres and asbestos bodies from the lung of an ex-asbestos miner from Penge.  By EDS the fibres exhibit peaks for silica, iron and magnesium, identifying them as Amosite asbestos.