Too much dust (in house)

Dust is considered an environmental contaminant. Dust particles range in size from 1 µm up to about 500 µm. Approximately 60% of dust particles come from the outside homes through vents, windows, doors and contaminated clothing and other items brought home.

Most common organic and inorganic dust  contaminants

  • Mineral soil and other contaminants lifted from the ground by weather conditions, vehicles on the road and volcanic activity
  • Plant pollen circulated in the air
  • Spores, molds, bacteria and viruses
  • Animal and human hair
  • Dead skin cells
  • Textile fabric fibers
  • Flame retardants (PBDE) from the materials in beds
  • Wood particles
  • Building materials and manufacturing byproducts including ceramics, glass, asbestos (silicate minerals), rubber, chemical agents and metallic particles such rust, cadmium, mercury and lead
  • Agricultural pesticides

Too much dust poses serious health risks

Dust becomes toxic when present in excessive amounts whether inside or outside homes. The toxicity can be attributed to both material composition of the dust contaminants and living organisms present in the dust such as molds and dust mites. House dust mites (microscopic eight-legged creatures also known as HDM) feed on flakes of shed human skin.

Side effects, conditions and dangers of too much dust circulation within living environments

Adverse health conditions caused by the dust depend on the prevalence of specific toxins found within living environment. Health damaging conditions are frequently associated with the following

  • Allergic reactions and increased risk of asthma associated with dust mites and proteases contained within dust mites’ feces
  • Sick building syndrome – intoxication by mold particles that may lead to many conditions, including but not limited to fungal infections and those reminiscent of inflammatory systemic illnesses
  • Dermatitis from internal and topical contaminant intoxication
  • Breathing problems and lung damage caused by scarring (Fibrosis) from excessive inhalation of chemical dust contaminants
  • Systemic illnesses invoked by blood intoxication with chemical agents and organic microorganism
  • Difficulty breathing and sleeping due to blocked sinuses
  • Depression and anxiety associated with resulting systemic illnesses

The best approach dealing with the symptoms that arise from dust toxicity is to minimize the amount of toxins entering the body through air pathways. Taking anti-allergy medications such as antihistamines alleviates the symptoms but merely masks the dangers of the dust exposure. Furthermore, antihistamines negatively impact health if used regularly.

How to avoid too much dust exposure and associated dust contaminants intoxication

  • Wear a breathing face mask when working outside the house in dusty environments such as garden or construction sites
  • Keep the windows closed if you live in a close proximity to vehicle traffic and during the windy weather conditions
  • Use home dehumidifiers to keep moisture accumulation under control during the high humidity months to prevent mold overgrowth
  • Vacuum closets and room floors at least once a week
  • Use bleach-based laundry solutions to irradiate dust mites, but wash clothing thoroughly to avoid bleach retention
  • Bag unused clothing to avoid unnecessary fiber shedding
  • Change bedding sheets and pillow covers weekly to remove skin sheds, thus preventing the dust mites population from growing
  • If you have a forced-air heating and/or cooling, upgrade the filtration system to an electrostatic. Change dust collecting filters regularly. When cleaning the house, turn your forced-air fan to ‘ON’ position to collect the dust before it settles
  • Use dust capture devices such as air purifiers, damp rags, microfiber or electrostatic cloths such as Swiffer to remove dust from surfaces. When using air purifiers, placing 2 air purifiers in each half of the room, makes the cleaning process significantly more effective
  • Keep your vacuum cleaner’s filters clean. Most vacuum cleaners have two filters – one for collecting the major particles of dust and the other to filter out the micro particles during the exhaust
  • When purchasing furniture, consider buying leather or vinyl-covered furniture, which is easier to clean and does not significantly collect dust
  • When remodeling your living space, opt-in for either hardwood or laminate flooring
  • Beat the rugs at least once a month and vacuum curtains and carpets regularly
  • Use windows screens to prevent major dust particles entering your living space
  • Mat the entrance to help to capture the dirt when entering home and take shoes off
  • Clean the blades of your ceiling fans
  • Use humidifiers during the low humidity months to reduce static which attracts dust
  • Eliminate extra clutter in rooms, which collects dust and makes dust cleaning more difficult