What is dust?
Dust isn’t just unsightly. Dust is actually a collective term to describe the wide variety of organic and inorganic particles that can collect in the home. Most of it is made up of shed human skin cells, which is why the rooms most used in the house generally tend to have the most dust. Dust mites, which are microscopic living organisms, live off of these skin cells – and as dust on mattresses, bedding and sofas contain lots of skin cells, the dust mites follow.
What does dust contain?
It’s not just skin cells and dust mites – dust can contain all sorts of compounds, some of which are even considered to be toxic. It may contain things like pet dander, rodent waste, paint particles, pollen, bacteria, viruses, plant and insect parts, heavy metals or even cigarette smoke and flame retardants.
When you walk around or vacuum, these particles are stirred up into the air, along with any potential toxic chemicals and a host of other rather unappetizing items. Residents in the home then breathe in these particles or absorb them through their skin.
If there are small children or infants in the home that crawl on the floor, they can ingest quite an amount of dust from licking their hands. As their bodies are still developing, it means they are also at an increased risk of health problems.
Top 4 health risks
- Allergies. Many people are allergic to dust mites. For about 20 million Americans, they’ll develop symptoms like red, itchy and watery eyes, sneezing, and/or a runny, itchy, stuffy nose. While medication can help, it also comes with a number of side effects. You’re much better off reducing your exposure to dust.
- Asthma. Dust mites can even trigger an asthma attack. Bacteria by-products in household dust are also known to trigger asthma. The greater the exposure, especially during windy days or during cleaning, the greater the probability of having an asthma attack.
- Dermatitis. In some people, inhaling dust can cause flare-ups of atopic dermatitis and skin conditions like eczema.
- Interfering with brain development. If the dust in your home contains PBDEs (Polybrominated diphenyl ethers), which are flame retardant compounds used to reduce flammability of common household items like furniture, carpet padding and textiles, it can potentially lead to a toxic disruption of developing hormone systems and the brain.