What’s in the dust we breathe?
The sizes of the dust particles go from huge to microscopic. The size is usually described in terms of the aerodynamic diameter. These diameters are put into 3 categories. The largest size is 100 to 10 microns. These particles pose the smallest threat. They are usually filter out in the upper respiratory system. Here our nose and sinuses filter them. They are disposed of when we cough and blow our noses.
The middle size (PM10)is from 10 microns to 2.5 microns. These tiny particles go through the respiratory tract. They end up in different regions of the lungs. soluble particle can be absorbed into the bloodstream. They can cause diseases. The smallest size (PM2.5) is under 2.5 microns. Particles that are 0.3 microns in size easily make it to the gas exchange membranes. They are the most dangerous and the best reason for an air purifier for dust.
The household dust we breathe contains a lot of stuff. The average home has over 100 different dust elements. Some are inert and not very dangerous. Most fall into this category. There are still many that are bothersome. There are more than few that are down right dangerous. The types fall into a few categories which we will briefly explore.
Inert Dusts (Not very dangerous)
Many of the larger speks we see floating in the air are made from common parts of soil. These are basically good old dirt. Our nose hairs filter many of them. Because they are bigger they weigh more. Therefore they don’t stay afloat in the air for long. Mineral dusts are generated from rocks. As rocks break apart some of the bits are carried into our homes. Vegetable dusts occur as plant life dries out. These plant byproducts are larger and much less a nuisance than plant pollens. Not all vegetable dust are harmless, more about those to come.
Pets (Mostly a nuisance)
Pets are the friends of mankind. However, the dust that they create, not so much! Pet naturally shed there skins, fur and feathers. This natural process creates both PM10 and PM2.5. The mix is about 75% to 25%. Because the size is so small they stay afloat. So, we breathe then easily. Pet dander isn’t likely to make you sick, but it is a serious dust problem. You will feel sick if you are allergic.
30% of American are allergic to cats and dogs. media filter will remove over 80% of pet dander and hair. HEPA and Electrostatic filtration remove more dust problems. An Air Purifier for Dust may be the answer to your nuisance conditions.
Dust Allergy (More likely to be serious)
Dust allergies go beyond pet related substances. Pet hair, dander and feathers are included in dust allergies but there is so much more. Dust Mites, Cockroaches, Mold and Pollen are the other leading contributors. These microscopic particles fall into both the PM10 and the PM2.5 size categories. As a result they find a way deep into our lungs.
How serious are the threats from these pollutants? Mold may lead to asthma in children. Cockroaches are know to spread disease. Pollen causes hay fever and upper respiratory issues in millions of people. As a result it is very important to consider dust prevention.
Lead, Asbestos and Silica (Dangerous)
Lead is one of the most dangerous contents of the average homes dust load. The leading source of lead dust is from the soil outside our homes. Lead occurs naturally in the soil at a rate of up to 150 ppm. Lead dust is not just from old paint chips. The distance from roads, nearby industry and the age of your home are all things to be aware of.
Asbestos occurs naturally in our environment. It was used in insulation in past. However we still need to be aware of it today. Common sand contains silica. Sand around our home can track silica into the house. Silicosis is a terrible disease caused by over exposure to silica. It’s not likely to get silicosis from your home. it is probably best to err on the side of caution.
Other than seeing dust specks floating in the air, what should we look for? Dusts from most of the sources above affect the membranes first. The eyes, nose and throat are our most common membranes. Redness in the eyes is the first sign to look for. Itchy eyes are likely the next clue. Tears are caused by irritation to your eyes. So, if you are experiencing more than one of these symptoms, take a good look at your air quality.
The nose filters out many of the nasty elements in the air. First of all a stuffy nose can mean a cold or extra irritation. Another symptom to watch is a runny nose. Your nose expels the matter it filters as a mucos. Finally, a sneezy nose is the most prevalent sign that your nose has smelled out some unsavory breathing conditions in your home.
The throat and your skin are affected by these different air particles. A scratchy throat does not necessarily mean you are catching a cold. Similarly a cough does not mean you are coming down with the flu. The indoor air quality could be as likely the culprit. Eczema can be triggered by poor air quality. Smoke, VOCs, Pet Dander could be the cause of flare ups.
The Answers to the question of what can I do about the dust in my home are many. The biggest thing you can do is be aware of your surroundings. Look for signs of excess dust in our home. Do you see dust motes in the air? If so, what’s the cause. Is your vacuum cleaner working properly? Do you clean often enough. Is your heating system creating indoor pollution? Are there other things in your home that are adding to the problem? Let’s look at some expert advice.
Clean your house regularly. Empty the waste so it cannot become airborne. Vacuum with a central vac or a HEPA rated bag. wear a N95 filter mask while dusting, sweeping and vacuuming. When you change bedding use mite-proof linen. Keep unrefrigerated food covered. If cockroaches are a problem use anti roach measures. clean with a damp towel or cloth to capture more dust. Have draperies cleaned regularly. Do whatever it takes to reduce dust
When possible you should choose to have hardwood floors instead of carpeting. Dispose of food waste in a tightly sealed bag. Keep the humidity in your home below 55%. Use a dehumidifier on a regular basis. Install a high efficiency media filter with a MERV 10 – 12 rating in your furnace or air conditioning unit.