New to Environmental Imaging and Have Questions?

Welcome to the Environmental Imaging Analysis Laboratory. If you are a first time user, you may have questions that we will try to address. More

How do I get started?

If you are a new customer, we recommend that you fill out the customer contact form and select the appropriate analysis desired and check what type of free sample kit you desire. In the kit will be instructions as to how to prepare the sample so that we can analyze and send a report back to you.

What is the main information that the coal fly ash analysis report provides?

The main elements of a report include Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) images, an elemental breakdown of what each suspect particle is made up of, and the overall percentage of particles seen within the SEM's field of view.  Please see our coal ash particle classification page for examples of the pictures you can expect to see in the report.

How can I use the information in the coal fly ash report?

There are several ways to use the information provided. First, it may be beneficial for you to establish a baseline and track on a periodic basis how much coal fly ash is being deposited on your house, car, boat, etc. Secondly, you can use our independent analytical report to discuss with your local coal fired power plant customer service representative about reimbursement for cleaning and the cost for the report, if the amount of coal ash deposited is excessively high.

How do I know if the amount of coal fly ash is excessively high in my area?

Unfortunately, there is no mandate that we could locate at the federal or state level. It really comes down to the power plant's discretion. From our perspective, it is better that we don't know the specifics, as it helps to assure that our analysis remains truly independent. In the calendar year 2010, we have seen samples range from 0% to upwards of 70%, with an overall average of 11% of the total samples we analyzed.

Each of the techniques we use [Polarizing Light Microscopy (PLM), Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), and Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDX)] provides useful information to establish what the sample is comprised of. From our experience, typical samples taken from the siding of a house of those living in close proximity and downwind of a coal fired power plant can be comprised into 25 different classes.

The most recent report that we analyzed for a customer living several miles away from a coal power plant had a low amount of coal fly ash and oil soot. The summarized breakdown from this one particular sample is shown below. Binning of each of these particles is primarily achieved through the PLM and further confirmed, classified and quantified by SEM and EDS analysis.

  • 40%     Opaques (paint/pigmented, non-soot organic & inorganic)
  • 27%     Biologicals (organic debris, pollen, trichomes, mold/fungus, starch grains)
  • 20%     Mineral grains (quartz, silicates)
  • 10%     Cellulose (paper fibers, cotton)
  • 3%       Soots (coal fly ash, oil soot)

As a note, the amount of coal fly ash that is deposited on the siding of homes drops significantly the further one lives from the power plant. While we can detect particle sizes in the nanometer range, the size of the coal fly ash particles that cause the black type of dirt on the siding of houses is typically 10 microns or larger.

What are the health effects of coal fly ash?

Please see our coal ash reference gallery to get a glimpse of the various health risks when exposed to excessively high amounts of coal ash.

What is the cost of a home siding analysis for coal fly ash?

The costs associated with a coal ash analysis is small when compared to someone's health. But to be specific, our cost for a coal ash analysis is $340 and includes analysis by Polarizing Light Microscopy (PLM), Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), and Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDX). In addition, a complete independent report by an industry professional with a Ph.D., who has been specializing in coal ash analysis for over 10 years, will be sent that contains a classification of all particles analyzed.

Special Offer!

For the remainder of 2011, our environmental imaging laboratory is offering free coal fly ash analysis to a limited amount of homeowners in the Eastern U.S. as a way to bolster our new Environmental Imaging Facebook page. By liking us on Facebook, filling out the Contact Us Form page requesting a free home siding kit, and meeting certain criteria, we will be happy to run your sample at no charge. The criteria that we are looking for is:

  • Must be the homeowner living within 1 mile (in an easterly direction) of a coal fired power plant in the Eastern U.S.
    • Preference will be given to homeowners with children if we receive a lot of requests at one time.
  • The home should have a noticeable dirty side of the house as compared to the other sides of the house.
  • We will limit the number of homes for this free offer per coal fired power plant to five (5)
  • Allow us to communicate with you through your Facebook account with a limited amount of pictures and the particle classification report summary in %'s as shown above.
    • A full complete written report can be sent to you for $100, if desired after the initial results are posted.
    • If you decide that you want to maintain your privacy after submitting your sample for free analysis, then you agree to pay the full analysis amount of $340.

As a note, the privacy of our customers is critical to our business. We do not sell or distribute any information without prior consent. The use of the data obtained from this free sampling offer, as described above, will be used to fingerprint the output of various coal fired power plants in terms of particle classification, particle size, and distance from the power plant. No specifics such as street address or names will be given out.

SEMTech Solutions, Inc. ~ 6 Executive Park Drive ~ North Billerica, MA 01862

Tel: (978) 663-9822 x232 ~ labmanager@semtechsolutions.com