The quantitative mineralogical analysis of small samples (less than 20 mg) of china clay has been investigated using x ray diffractometry to determine kaolinite, mica, quartz, and feldspar. A method has been developed and applied to the quantitative analysis of airborne dust samples and of other small discrete samples. Determinations were made either on samples after collection on a membrane filter or on samples after deposition from aqueous suspension on to a silver substrate. Quantitative analysis was hindered by preferred orientation of the kaolinite and of the mica particles that occurs when using these methods of specimen preparation. Quartz and feldspar were determined direct from prepared calibration graphs. Preferred orientation of the mica particles leads to serious interference with the most sensitive quartz x ray diffraction peak which, if not recognised, will result in an overestimation of the quartz content. Kaolinite and mica were determined from the ratio of their most intense x ray diffraction peak areas to overcome the preferred orientation effects observed for these two minerals. During the investigation, the opportunity arose for comparative measurements of quartz contents of airborne dust samples with the Occupational Medicine and Hygiene Laboratories of the Health and Safety Executive. The mass of specimen examined varied between 0.8 mg and 20 mg and the quartz contents varied between 0.1% and 1.2%. The comparative results were in good agreement.
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