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What is in the dust in your house?

Updated on May 22, 2008

Get ready to discover the yukky elements!


Dust is almost everywhere, this is why all the Swiffer, brooming and duster industries will never go out of business. Having dust is already unpleasant on its own, but finding out what is "IN" the dust makes it even more unpleasant.

But seriously, what causes dust in your house? There are various components that will cause you a sneeze or two, besides the big urge to buy a Swiffer. Let's take a closer look to what is behind that powdery layer coating your most expensive furniture, but be warned as you may not like it!

-Skin cells. Yes, your skin cells are in the dust. You cannot visibly see them but everyday we shed thousands of skin cells into our environment. If you have pets add their skin cells as well, plus all you family's.

-Plant pollen. This comes either from indoor plants or by the outdoor ones. Opening a window or a door may bring much more than fresh air, and allergy sufferers are fully aware of this added bonus. No wonder, allergic people sneeze and get itchy eyes even if they try their best not to be exposed to the outdoor blooms.

-Dust mites. It is great that we cannot see these creepy creatures as there are so many in our homes we would feel overwhelmed and disgusted. Feeling lonely at night? You may rejoice in learning that you are in good company as their favorite spots include bedding. These mites feed on dust but don't think they are doing a good chore, as in exchange they produce feces that become dust once again and trigger major allergies.

-Pet dander. Basically, the skin scales of our furry friends make up a good amount of dust and allergens in our homes. Cats produce a lot of dander and a high percentage of allergens are produced by the cat's saliva that once dried up becomes airborne.

-Insects. When looked under a microscope, dust contains as well a good amount of dead insects and insect particles that dry out and decompose into dust.

-Smoke. Cigarette smoke tends to add up to the dust components. Studies actually have shown that these small particles of nicotine may be harmful to infants and children and act just as second hand smoking does.

-Remnants. Particles from clothes, fibers, wood, windows, chemicals, foods, paint, all add up to the dust list. Many of us are aware of the danger lead based paint dust poses to children. Fortunately house inspections check for this before people proceed to move into a home built before 1978.

-Last but not least, soil. And of course soil makes up a good part of dust. It easily enters our homes as it accumulates on our shoes and clothing. It can also enter our homes from opened windows and doors.

As we can see dust is made of many components, many of which we really would have never imagined. Just think about the amount of dust we inhale and casually ingest every day. It may sound scary but put down your Swiffer, because you have definitely lost the battle. Dust is here to stay no matter how hard you try to get rid of it. There is no such thing as a dust free, sterile home, not unless all living creatures have been literally, wiped off from earth. Dust is ultimately what it is and what it will always remain: the fine powder of life and death.


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