Oh, that dastardly dust! It always seems like the minute you get it cleaned up; it’s coating everything in your home again. You know what I’m talking about; you open the blinds and your once sparkling clean glass coffee table is covered and those beams of light coming in are showcasing unreal amounts of dust as it drifts lazily throughout the room. If you think that’s bad, just imagine what’s gathering under your furniture, coating your bedspread or drifting into your mouth; yuck! Have you ever asked yourself “where is all this dust coming from? Is it harmful?
Here’s The Scoop . . .
In the ACE Environmental Science and Technology journal, Arizona scientists reported that 60% of indoor dust comes from outdoors, a rather obvious finding. The fact is dust comes from a variety of sources both inside and outside of your home, including dead skin, which regularly sheds from people and their pets (Yikes!). Clothing, bedding, carpet fibers and upholstery also release fibers every time they’re used. Truth be told, unless you want to find a new home for Fido, tear up all of the carpeting, replace your upholstered furniture with leather and toss out the curtains (and even the blinds), you’re just going to have to deal with the dust and come up with ways to keep it under control.
How Does All That Dust Get Inside?
Oh, so many ways, including dirt that’s tracked in on kids, pets, and shoes. Then there’s improperly sealed return ductwork that runs through crawl spaces, attics or in between the walls, sucking in the dirty air, and then spewing it out, filled with unknown airborne particles and dirt, right into your home. This dust can be made up of arsenic, lead and many other potentially dangerous substances that can be a major concern for young children who end up consuming these substances by putting contaminated objects like toys, sippy cups, etc., into their mouths.
Another open pathway for dust is all the gaps and holes in your home, some visible, some not. Things like light switches, electrical outlets and windows are common entry points. In addition, when warm air rises in the home, up to the attic if applicable, it creates a sort of vacuum that sucks air back inside through cracks, gaps, and holes.
Areas Of The Country Prone to Dust
Arid climates and areas that commonly face drought conditions are susceptible to atmospheric dust. A good example would be a moment in history, in the 1930s, when the U.S. plain states faced disaster caused by a combination of agricultural practices and drought that led to farmland drying out (eventually known as the Dust Bowl). When the wind began to blow over the plains, it picked up dry soil, lifting it into the air, causing massive particle storms and what was referred to as black blizzards. The problem was eventually resolved by soil conservation strategies which included planting trees that’s sole purpose was to help protect against ongoing soil erosion.
Dust Bunnies (not as cute as it sounds)
You’ve heard the term “dust bunnies”, right? Well, they’re not really cute; these dirty little dust balls always seem to hide in dark places, from under the couch to under the bed. You should be happy that you can’t see all the tiny particles that have managed to attach themselves to the “dust bunnies” because it would probably freak you out. Dust bunnies are typically nasty collections of dirt, hair, pollen, lint, paint flakes, mold spores, clothing, carpet fibers and worse, bits and pieces of dead insects. The biggest problem with dust bunnies, however, is the dust mites that often call them home.
Unfortunately, most homes are loaded with dust mites and these tiny, 8 legged treasures feed on shed skin. Everywhere dust mites go, they leave behind waste that causes sniffles and sneezes in people who are hypersensitive to them and the fecal matter they leave behind can cause allergic reactions.
It’s impossible to have a dust free home and in some cases (according to a 2007 study), some dust, especially when it comes to babies, can prime their immune systems, avoiding allergies. Not all researchers agree on the subject, and exposing your children to dust won’t make them allergy free. That being said, dust can be harmful to your health because it’s impossible to know what’s in it.