Characterizing Single Particles in the Air of the International Space Station Using the icpTOF

Single-particle elemental analysis

Single-Particle Elemental Analysis of Vacuum Bag Dust Samples Collected From the International Space Station by SEM/EDX and sp-ICP-ToF-MS 

Jahn, L.; Bland, G.; Monroe, L.; Sullivan, R.; Meyer, M. 
Aerosol Science and Technology, 2021 
DOI: 10.1080/02786826.2021.1874610

Air quality on board the International Space Station (ISS) is a significant health concern for astronauts living on the station. Due to the absence of gravitational settling, airborne particles can remain suspended for a long time. Aerosol particles are generated from a variety of sources, including on-board equipment, electronics, and the astronauts themselves. 

In this study, Jahn and co-workers examined the particulate matter collected with a handheld vacuum cleaner on board the ISS. The returned vacuum bag dust samples were analyzed with scanning electron microscopy coupled with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEM/EDX) and single-particle multi-element inductively coupled plasma time-of-flight mass spectrometry (sp-ICP-TOFMS) using TOFWERK’s icpTOF

SEM/EDX and sp-ICP-TOFMS provided different but complementary information regarding the composition of the dust particles. SEM/EDX analysis revealed many large particles that are most commonly clothing fibers or of biological origin, along with smaller numbers of carbonaceous particles possibly from polymer materials. sp-ICP-TOFMS analysis quantitatively determined the metal concentrations in particles approximately <10 µm in diameter and identified several distinct particle compositions. Some of these, such as stainless steel (Fe-Cr-Ni-Mn), antiperspirant (Al-Zr), silver (Ag), and titanium oxide (Ti) particles, are consistent with particle types identified through past aerosol and vacuum bag sampling and analyses. Other types, including Fe-Al and other types of Al and Zr particles, do not have a clear origin consistent with past work. 

The icpTOF’s capability of multi-element acquisition at high time resolution was crucial for the characterization of different particles in this study. 

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
close slider
Side Ask Us a Question Pop Up

We would like to hear from you. Please send us a message by filling out the form below or email, and we will get back with you shortly.