The vast majority of theses in this collection are open access and freely available. There are a small number of theses that have access restricted to the WWU campus. For off-campus access to a thesis labeled "Campus Only Access," please log in here with your WWU universal ID, or talk to your librarian about requesting the restricted thesis through interlibrary loan.

Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award

Fall 2018

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Sciences

First Advisor

Sofield, Ruth M.

Second Advisor

Matthews, Robin A., 1952-

Third Advisor

Abel, Troy D.


Semi-automated scanning electron microscopy (SEM) with energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) can be used to determine the size and composition of filtered particulate matter (PM). This information is valuable for determining the identity and contribution of overlapping air emissions. One limitation of this method is the cost of filtering PM at enough locations to give meaningful spatial data. To address this limitation, I developed an exploratory method to collect PM using Ramalina farinacea for semi-automated SEM analysis as a component of lichen biomonitoring studies. I applied this method as a proof of concept in the Seattle area to better understand trends in regional urban dust. To do this, bags of lichen were transplanted to 9 locations in the Duwamish Valley and adjacent uplands for 3 months between September and December, 2017. Some of these locations were arranged close to major industrial sources of airborne metals, which we hypothesized would contribute to the PM observed on the lichens alongside the regional background signature of particulate emissions. Upon collection, PM deposition on the lichen was characterized using SEM with EDS. A total of 18,581 particles were identified and analyzed using the PACLA for Oxford two-stage classifier. My findings suggest that R. farinacea are an effective tool for collecting PM and show the greatest proportion of anthropogenic-specific particles on lichens adjacent to Interstate 5. Furthermore, the spatial trends of PM between locations suggest that fugitive dust controls such as green walls and green spaces may be more effective than point source controls at further reducing exposure to harmful dust in the Seattle area.




lichen biomonitoring, particulate matter, urban dust, source apportionment


Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Air quality--Washington (State)--Seattle--Measurement; Environmental monitoring--Washington (State)--Seattle; Ramalina; Scanning electron microscopy

Geographic Coverage

Seattle (Wash.)




masters theses




Copying of this document in whole or in part is allowable only for scholarly purposes. It is understood, however, that any copying or publication of this thesis for commercial purposes, or for financial gain, shall not be allowed without the author's written permission.

Supplementary Material A.csv (4353 kB)
Supplementary Material A

Supplementary Material A Key.pdf (10 kB)
Supplementary Material A Key

Supplementary Material B.pdf (962 kB)
Supplementary Material B