Where Does Dust Come From
It seems to appear out of nowhere. You clean it from countertops, bookshelves, and dressers. A week later, with no clear source, it’s back.
Dust is the persistent enemy of anyone who wants to keep a clean, tidy home.
It’s always around, and no matter how vigilant you are, it always comes back. It’s around so much that we start to take it for granted.
Dust always has been and always will be around. Eventually, we stop thinking about it.
But dust deserves our attention. It’s more than just a problem for clean homes, it’s a problem for health as well.
Do you know where this mystery substance comes from? Do you know what it is? Instead of constantly cleaning, are there steps you can take to keep it from invading your home? At the very least, can it be reduced? And what about people with dust allergies? Are there steps we can take to keep dust levels low and provide a cleaner, healthier home?
There are a lot of questions with dust, but with the right knowledge, you’ll be fully informed and ready to make the right choices!
What is Dust?
Understanding how to get relief from dust starts with knowing what you’re up against. It should come as no surprise that dust is one of the components of “particulate matter,” a leading cause of poor air quality, both indoors and out.
Particulate matter is essentially solid particles that are small and light enough to float in the air. This can include dirt, soot, smoke particles, as well as dust.
What is dust made of?
As it turns out, indoor dust is made from many different types of particles that include dirt tracked into the home, skin cells, and tiny particles that have been shed from the carpet. Depending upon where you live you may encounter coal dust or tiny dust particles from a desert. We see this often in Arizona. A similar thing happens with Saharan dust from Africa that can reach North America and Europe as it spreads by winds in the atmosphere.
A popular myth is that dust is made almost entirely of human skin. This, according to science writer Luis Villazon of Science Focus, is simply not true. Skin cells are shed, but most of them are washed away in the shower or the bathroom, not dispersed throughout the home.
For the most part, indoor dust is made from outdoor sources, mostly dirt. When you walk into the home, you carry dirt and other small particles on the bottom of your shoes, as well as on your clothes and skin. These particles are then released into the home, becoming common household dust. A large portion of dust will also be made of fibers from carpet that are released into the air and settle into various surfaces.
If you have pets in the home, you will likely have pet dander, which is essentially a form of dust, as well as a common allergen.
Essentially, dust is made of just about anything. There are even findings that dust may contain lingering chemicals, such as DDT (an insecticide that hasn’t been used in decades) and pesticides. If ingested, these chemicals have the potential to create significant health problems for people of all ages.
Of course, dust doesn’t just reside in your home. Dust is a strong contributor to particulate matter, which is microscopic solid particles floating in the air. Particulate matter is a strong contributor to outdoor air pollution, and is made of many different materials, including sulfate, black carbon, ammonia, and mineral dust.
Dust Mites and Your Home
If we’re talking about dust, we need to discuss the unpleasant topic of house dust mites. These are microscopic organisms that are adapted to the environment inside your home. They eat the skin cells that we shed and generally live inside furniture. Although they are generally harmless, it is possible to have dust mite allergies.
Removing dust mites can be challenging, but measures like using a dehumidifier (to reduce their water source) and using an air purifier with a HEPA filter can reduce the amount of these pests in the home.
Is Your Household Dust Toxic?
We know that dust is made from dirt, skin cells, fabrics, and other substances, but are you aware that there could also be harmful toxins in your household dust.
According to a 2016 study conducted by researchers with George Washington University, Harvard, and other organizations, dust is also made of a wide variety of chemicals that float around the home. Some of the chemicals had uncommon names (such as “phthalates”), but the hazards are a little easier to understand. Risks from some of the chemicals found in dust include reproductive
Dust and Your Health
There can be many different effects from dust in the home, ranging from slight annoyance to serious allergic reactions.
According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, when we inhale dust, the particles enter our body, but not all of them enter the lungs. Many are trapped in the nasal region and are usually removed by either sneezing or blowing the nose.
However, many particles do make it past our natural filtering system. Some reach the windpipes and tubes that lead to the lungs. Now, the dust can be trapped by mucus which catches most dust particles that make it past the esophagus. It’s eventually moved back up to be coughed up or spat out.
It is possible, of course, for dust to make it all the way to the tiny air sacs in our lungs. These sacs, called alveolar, are extremely important to our breathing, as they essentially act like the transportation chamber for oxygen into the blood stream. But once again, the body can fight for itself. There are cells that defend the sacs against dust particles and other foreign contaminants.
Despite all these defense measures, the body is still susceptible to diseases and health problems caused by dust. If dust is going to effect someone, it is likely caused by industrial dust and dusty work conditions. In this case, you have a worker who is exposed to high concentrations of dust on a continual bases, creating prolonged problems. Common jobs associated with dust inhalation include construction workers, auto mechanics, hairdressers, home cleaners, gardeners, agricultural workers, and anyone who works in professional kitchens.
However, common household dust can cause problems as well. You may have irritated eyes, coughing, and sneezing, which creates unpleasant and uncomfortable living. It’s also possible that dust can trigger asthma attacks. If severe, an asthma attack can be life-threatening. Other respiratory conditions, such as COPD and allergies can be made worse by the presence of dust.
Inhaled dust can be particularly concerning for babies and young children due to the size of their lungs compared to the size of their bodies. Compared to adults, a baby’s lungs are larger in relation to their total body size, which means inhaled dust could have a stronger impact on their overall health.
Dermatitis, a skin condition marked by rashes, itching, and even blisters, is also associated with dust. Specifically, “contact dermatitis,” which is caused by a substance touching the skin, can be triggered by particles in dust. These particles can trigger an allergic reaction in the skin, creating many kinds of skin problems ranging from uncomfortable itching to severe blistering. Airborne substances, including dust from wool, has been linked to dermatitis.
Keeping Your Home Dust-Free: The Defensive Plan
So, what can you do to prevent dust in the home and keep it from affecting your family’s health? There are quite a few measures you can take, ranging from basic cleaning to whole-home renovations.
The first step to take should be to reduce the amount of particles that enter your home. This starts with the shoes. One of the most common sources of dust is the dirt and particles that are dragged into the home on shoes, so place doormats near every single entryway, including the door between your garage and the house.
A consistent method for reducing interior dust is to have a hard-surface directly in front of the door. Obviously, this calls for some rather ambitious landscaping measures if you don’t have a concrete walking path. However, you can choose to avoid certain entry points if another has concrete or paver bricks and the other is dirt or grass.
When you are cleaning, use a damp cloth instead of a feather duster or dry rag. Using a feather duster only stirs up the dust and sends it floating, allowing it to contaminate the air. If it doesn’t get inhaled, it will just settle somewhere else. In this case, you’re not removing the dust, just moving it from one place to another.
While we’re on the topic of cleaning, remember the age-old rule of cleaning top-to-bottom, which helps you keep dust moving downward until it is vacuumed.
Remember to sweep and vacuum every couple of days to reduce the constantly-building dust. A HEPA vacuum cleaner generally works best for the large dust particles (dust bunnies). If you have a dust allergy, you may want to wear a mask or not be around when vacuuming as any vacuum will kick up the small dust particles into the air.
Wash your bedding about once a week to eliminate skin cells that are shed while you sleep. You can also beat the dust off your couch cushions (outside, of course) and get rid of excess clutter and household items that do little more than collect dust.
If you have a pet in the home, grooming becomes very important to keep dust low. Brushing them outside on a regular basis can reduce the amount of dander and keep your pet’s coat clean and shiny.
You should also remember to change the air filter in your HVAC system. The air filter in your furnace is not designed it improve air quality, but to keep dust particles from clogging the system. However, changing the filter can reduce the amount of dust being released into the air, so don’t forget this step. (Specifics for filter-change frequency should be outlined by the furnace manufacturer.)
If you are dedicated to reducing dust in the home, there are changes you can make to improve the overall air quality. Removing carpet, for example, can reduce long-term dust levels. Carpets, drapes and upholstered furniture act like a trap for dust, which will eventually be released as people walk across the floor. Hard flooring and materials, such as wood and tile, are better for keeping dust out of the home.
Do Air Purifiers Catch DustAn air purifier will catch airborne dust provided it has enough air flow and a HEPA or HEPA-type air filter. Dust particles will get caught in the HEPA filter fibers.
Air Purifier for Dust Protection
If you want a passive way to remove dust, a way that keeps working while you’re sleeping or at work, consider using an air purifier to remove dust in your home. These appliances will trap and hold airborne dust, allowing you to have fresh, clean air all throughout your home.
mod HEPA Air Purifier
Efficient, super quiet, and effective, the mod air purifier is one of the leading machines in the air purifier industry. It uses real HEPA filters that have a MERV rating of 17, which is extremely high. It also performs with reliability when you need to remove airborne dust.
This purifier can be used in some of the largest spaces. It’s rated to purify air in a space measuring up to 1,268 square feet with two air changes per hour. This means consistent, long-lasting air purification in your home, and less dust in the air and the countertops!
The Right Purifiers for You and Your Family!
Want to learn more about dust control and air purifiers? Contact Oransi to find out how an air purifier can be used to enhance the quality of your home.
Whether you are to reduce dust, control allergens, or remove the odor of smoke, we have high-quality purifiers that will deliver the performance you expect.