Dust Tips: What You Need to Know

An alien looking object turned out to be cotton fibers; What looked like plant seeds turned out to be aluminum alloy particles; Under a microscope, dead human skin cells look like clumps of crumpled paper.

No one who has seen these micrographs has not been intrigued by the strange objects in the dust. What other secrets are hidden in the dust around us?

Source: cen.acs.org

Dust Mites That Sleep with Us

Indoor dust contains a lot of human dead skin. Our bodies create 20 million new skin cells every hour, and the new ones push the old ones into the outer layer. After a few weeks, the initial new skin cells have reached the outermost layer of the skin, become hardened and shed from the skin surface with movements such as scratching.

Source: imperial.ac.uk

Although the keratin in dead skin is tough and not particularly nutritious, it is abundant and oily, which makes it a target for dust mites.

Dust mites have eight legs and they are relatives of spiders. In order to digest hard keratin, dust mites can secrete powerful keratinase. They constantly eat keratin and excrete it at an amazing rate. Dust mites can produce fecal particles equivalent to 200 times their body weight in their lifetime.

Source: niehs.nih.gov

Beds are home to dust mites, which can number up to two million in a single bed. If the bedding is not replaced in time, living dust mites, the remnants of dead dust mites and dust mite feces can be inhaled into our respiratory tract, and these substances contain enzymes that can cause allergic reactions in the inhaler. Studies have shown that dust mite feces is one of the main causes of childhood asthma.

Source: nih.gov

Dust Likes to Stick Together

Dust builds up every day in the house and moves around the home. In the process of moving, all kinds of dust and garbage will form clumps, which contain hair, clothing fibers, dead skin, spider webs, mineral particles, paint chips, etc.

Source: wikipedia.org

The formation of a clump may begin with the movement of a single large particle, such as a large dander.

Oily dandruff is carried by the air flow and moves slowly on the floor. These air flows may come from fans or air conditioners, or people's actions such as walking, opening windows or doors in the house.

As it moves, dandruff rubs against particles on the floor, such as hair, fibers, food scraps and insect bodies. Static electricity causes them to attract each other and form entangled clumps.

As the clump moves around, it picks up small particles along the way, and gets bigger and bigger. The oily debris such as food residues and human dead skin that it picks up will also play a bonding role, making it easier to pick up garbage.

The clumps hide at the bottom of furniture or in corners, providing a habitat for dust mites and other parasites. They will also block the filter screen, reducing the ventilation efficiency of the air conditioning or fresh air system.

Contaminants in Dust

In the 1940s, scientists first discovered that indoor dust was a good indicator of local conditions.

In the 1970s, when lead in paint and gasoline became a major threat to children's health, some scientists began measuring lead levels in household dust and found significantly higher levels.

In dust samples collected from some old houses, scientists detected DDT, a kind of pesticide, which has been banned for nearly half a century.

Source: time.com

Our skin and clothing fibers will continuously absorb various harmful substances (such as heavy metals, polychlorinated biphenyls, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, etc.) from the external environment.

Some of these harmful ingredients will adhere to the dust particles and be absorbed by our skin, or inhaled into the respiratory tract, or enter our digestive tract with food and water.

During the use of TV and other household appliances, the plastic shell part will release a small amount of volatile or semi volatile substances, such as tetrabromobisphenol A (a flame retardant). These volatiles will continue to enter the surrounding environment until they reach a concentration equilibrium with the surrounding environment.

These volatile components are volatilized and dispersed in the air due to the heat generated by the operation of household appliances, and condense to form particles in the colder parts of the room, which are mostly dusty areas.

Some flame retardants with large molecular weight (such as decabromodiphenyl ether) are difficult to volatilize, but they will still transfer from the plastic products to the surrounding dust particles.

Therefore, dust on router or TV in your home should be cleaned regularly, as they may have absorbed harmful components.

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