March 5, 2018
In an interview with NPR, dust expert Heather Stapleton confirms that “[our] understanding of how much dust a person is exposed to is very limited.” It seems there may be more to dust than we realize — even though these particles play a major role in our health. To help you get a few facts straight, we rounded up three more little known facts about dust:
There’s more to dust than dust mites. In fact, it’s best to consider dust as a potpourri of unpleasant items — from both inside your home and out. This can include (but is not limited to) pieces of dead skin, mold spores, dead insects and their droppings, pollen, pet dander, soil, particulate matter from smoke, food debris, and, of course, dust mites.
What’s worse is that we tend to underestimate the resiliency of dust, and the fact that, if not removed properly, dust can be in homes for a very long time — and particularly “old” dust can contain especially harmful ingredients. For example, traces of lead and DDT — a pesticide banned in the U.S. in 1972 — are still being found in recent dust samples.
With ingredients like these, it isn’t a surprise that dust can be irritating, even without a formally diagnosed dust allergy. Other factors, such as dust particle size, can also contribute to how irritable the dust in your home may be. Larger dust particles typically get trapped in your nose and mouth, but they can be breathed (or sneezed) out. Smaller particles, typically referred to as fine dust, float in the air and can easily travel to your lungs and even be absorbed directly into your bloodstream.
Dust irritation isn’t just sneezing. You may notice a runny nose, itchy or watery eyes, itchy nose or roof of mouth, cough, congestion, and postnasal drip.
You’re most likely familiar with the occasional dusty bookshelf or desk, but dust is actually present far beyond a few neglected shelves. In fact, it’s safe to assume most surfaces have at least a thin layer of dust.
There are a few areas in our homes that are especially at-risk for dust — and they’re places that we may not even realize need dusting. Tough-to-reach areas such as ceiling fans, lighting fixtures, and the tops of cabinets can unknowingly collect unhealthy amounts of dust. Upholstery, carpet, and bedding are also some of the worst dust collecting culprits — allergists usually recommend washing bedding once a week to keep dust at bay.
How can you do away with all the dust hiding in your home? The first step is understanding that there is actually a right way and a wrong way to dust.
For the best results:
Staying on top of the dust in your home can be overwhelming. Luckily, there’s air quality monitors, like Awair. Awair tracks toxins and chemicals in your air and gives you actionable insights and tips to help you stay safe and healthy.
This year’s wildfire season is record-breaking. In the US, millions of acres of land and property have burned, with tens of thousands of people evacuated. In early October, the California Fire Department reported more than 15,000 firefighters relentlessly working to contain 22 major wildfires throughout the state.
One of the simplest joys in cold weather is building a fireplace to warm your home. The ambiance created by a fire's glow is a necessity for many homes this time of year, and while we can't imagine a holiday season without a lit fireplace, we need to recognize the consequences it can have on our health.