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Dust

Removing Dust from your HomeDust in the indoor and outdoor environment, and human exposure to particulate matter pollution in dust causes a significant public health problem. There is no getting away from dust – it is present in the desert, the countryside, the city and even in outer space.

FAQ about dust and its influence:

What is the scientific definition of dust?
Where is dust mainly found?
What are the main components of dust?
Why is dust a health hazard?
What is the best way of removing dust?

 

What is the scientific definition of dust?

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In her fascinating book 'The Secret Life of Dust', Hannah Holmes gives a useful working description of dust as Particulate Matter of size 63 microns or less. She gives a few examples of dust and other substances, just for comparison:

  • Sand - 63 microns or larger
  • Human hair - 100 microns on average in width
  • Pollen grains - 10-100 microns
  • Fungal spores - 1-5 microns
  • Tobacco smoke - 0.01-0.5 microns


Another important dust definition is the classification of Particulate Matter into PM10, PM2.5 and ultrafine particles (UFPs). The first refer to particles of size 10 microns or less and 2.5 microns or less, while UFPs have a size of 0.1 microns (100 nanometres) or less. These are often used in environmental monitoring reports. These working definitions take no account of what the dust is made of but, as scientific sampling and analysis indicates, the composition of dust is highly variable.

Where is dust mainly found?

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Smaller particles of dust remain airborne for a very long time and can travel through great distances. Ragweed pollen grains, for instance, have actually been found nearly 400 miles out at sea. Cat allergen borne on tiny flakes of cat skin or fur is another dust that travels far and can persist in the air for months after the animal has left a location. Heavier particles form settled dust. Carpet is the main reservoir for dust in a house. Research shows that houses with hard wooden floors and rugs harbour one tenth of the dust that is found in houses that have carpets. Horizontal surfaces collect far more dust than vertical surfaces, but do be aware that dust will gather on the latter and will certainly be present on soft furnishings like curtains and also on window blinds.

What are the main components of dust?

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Dust is composed of a mixture of substances of biological and chemical origin. Biological dust components include:


Chemical dusts come mainly from industrial activities and traffic. Some significant chemical dusts include:

Why is dust a health hazard?

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For people with allergies, including asthma and hay fever, house dust mite droppings, pollen grains and fungal spores, may act as potent triggers. Asbestos, heavy metal and cigarette smoke can cause various forms of cancer and lung disease. The ‘Six Cities’ study suggested that exposure to particulate matter pollution regardless of composition is associated with excess mortality. The health effects of exposure to indoor dusts have been far less studied but it is likely that it does not matter whether the pollution originates indoors or outdoors, it is still a health hazard.

What is the best way of removing dust?

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Damp dusting, or using an electrostatic dusting cloth, will do a far better job of capturing dust from a surface than a dry or feather duster will. Dry dusting just stirs up the dust into the air. Regular vacuuming is a must if you have carpet, but vacuum cleaners do vary in their performance. Hannah Holmes quotes some interesting research from the Carpet and Rug Institute which shows that many vacuum cleaners subjected to testing actually leaked significant amounts of dust into the air. So rather than capturing dust into the dust bag, they were merely transferring it from the carpet to the air. A vacuum cleaner fitted with a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter is more likely to trap dust particles, but some do not suck much dust up from the carpet, according to further study from the Carpet and Rug Institute researchers. A HEPA air filter, so long as it is a reputable brand and well maintained, will do an excellent job of removing dust from the air. For instance, the IQAir HealthPro 250 contains HEPA technology that is capable of removing 99.5 per cent of particles down to 0.003 microns in size.

Related Products:

Dust Allergy ProductsDust Mite Free PackageMiele C3 Allergy PowerLineIQAir HealthPro 150

Removing Dust from your Home | Dust Explained | Dust FAQs Articles

The Secret Life of Dust

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the secret life of dust I've been reading a brilliant book on, of all topics, house dust! Hannah Holmes "The Secret Life of Dust" raises some questions of importance to those whose asthma is triggered by allergens like house dust mite. We knew that house dust is a complex mixture of particles of both chemical and biological origin, but I had no idea just how mysterious this substance actually is.

Holmes describes an intriguing complex called 'The Personal Cloud' which came to light in house dust experiments carried out in the 1990s. A group of 178 participants based in California were wired up to personal dust monitors, which they wore for 12 hours at a time as they carried out their usual activities.

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How to Avoid a Dust Allergy

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dust allergy However house proud you are, it is not easy to eliminate indoor dust and avoiding a dust allergy. Dust is an inevitable by-product of living in your home. You shed skin and hair all the time, you bring in soil particles on your shoes, pollen on your clothes.

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House Dust Increases Risk for Asthma

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house dust increases risk for asthma Endotoxin in household dust drastically increases the risk of asthma. Endotoxin is a heat stable toxin in the wall of certain bacteria cells. When the bacteria is inhaled and disintegrates, the toxin is released. A study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine in April 2005 shows that exposure to endotoxins significantly effects airway inflammation. The result is that there is a clear relationship between households with increased endotoxin levels, and household residents with diagnosed asthma, recent asthma symptoms, wheezing, and use of asthma medication.

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