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Photographic gallery.  Thousands of particles under the microscope.
Paint Spheres in the Environment

Black Metalic Paint Sphere

This is from an environmental tapelift that was processed with acetone. The paint vehicle in this case was soluble in acetone. The result is a circular pattern of pigment and metalic flakes.

Transmitted Crossed Circular Polarized Light and Reflected Darkfield Illumination


Significance in the Environment:

The presence of paint spheres indicates that painting has taken place at this locality or nearby. Paint spheres persist in the environment and are an indication of how thorough a cleaning has taken place since the painting event and how extensively contaminants were dispersed in the environment during the activities associated with the painting event. The presence of paint spheres may indicate a source for solvent odors.

Characteristic Features:

Associated Particles:

Paint spheres are often found with other construction debris such as sawdust, plaster, magnetite spheres, glass fiber, etc. In an automotive body shop or vehicle maintainece facility they are often associated with paint flakes, magnetite spheres, abrasives, tire wear, metal particles, rust, plastics, glass fiber, cotton rag fiber, and clear, colorless spheres of "clearcoat". If this is from a paint spray booth then spherical agglomerates of alkaline salts, organic residues, and pigment may also be present. If it is from a local uncontrolled painting activity then the spheres will not be associated with construction, body shop, or water scrubber residues.


Crown, David A., THE FORENSIC EXAMINATION OF PAINTS AND PIGMENTS, Charles C. Thomas Publisher, 1968.