During 2 days of an offshore drilling operation in the North Sea, 16 airborne dust samples from the atmosphere of the Shale Shaker House were collected onto filters. During this operation, drilling mud composed of a water slurry of barite (BaSO4) together with minor amounts of additives, among them chrome lignosulphonate and chrome lignite, was circulated between the borehole and the Shale Shaker House. The concentration of airborne dust in the atmosphere was determined and the elemental composition of the particles analysed by both PIXE (proton-induced X-ray emission) and ICP-MS (inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry). The total amount of dust collected varied from 0.04 to 1.41 mg m-3 with barium (Ba) as the single most abundant element. The open shale shakers turned out to be the major cause of generation of dust from the solid components of the drilling mud.