Typically, objects or situations that are dangerous to our well-being are very evident to our senses. The roar of a speeding sports car alerts you before it arrives at your location on the street. A hot ember from a fire glows a deep incandescent red, warning that it could burn your skin. Even mother nature attempts to alert us when our health is at risk, equipping poisonous and venomous animals in wardrobes of dazzling bright colours; perhaps best demonstrated in the Okanagan by the crimson hourglass of the black widow spider.
However, not all deadly situations and substances are so obvious.
There is a new silent killer on the block which is likely all around you at this very moment. It’s hiding in your couch, on your counter and in the air that you breathe.
This terrible, near invisible threat is a common issue in almost every home. It is not just a single entity you have to fear. The culprit is actually a collection of different particles which has been given a name we all recognize.
What is Dust and Why Should We Clean it?
When most people think of dust, no alarm bells go off in their mind. It’s just the fuzz that collects on top of your shelves and cabinets when you haven’t had time to clean in a while right? That’s not so scary. You just get your handy duster out once in awhile and brush it away.
Well that’s actually one of the worst things that you can do, but we will get to that in a bit.
Dust is not just some magical grey fuzz that appears when you have not cleaned properly. Dust is actually an assortment of many different miniature organic and inorganic particles that gather and settle overtime in the home.
Organic dust comes from things that are alive, like your roommate, pets or plants. Aside from deceased living matter, organic dust can also harbour toxic microbes or fungi. Inorganic dust on the other hand is derived from minerals and man-made items. This type of dust is created when materials break down or are tampered with in some manner, such as a piece of metal being sheared.
Inorganic dust can also be created from chemical substances, such as pesticides and dyes. As you might guess, this can be the most dangerous type of dust to be exposed to.
The Dust in Your Kelowna Home
The dust that you may find at the back of your desk or on top of your T.V is likely a combination of both organic and inorganic dust. The most common particle you will find in the dust from a common family household is dead skin cells.
Yes, you read that correctly.
Dust is mainly dead skin from the residents of the home and those who have visited. Feel inclined to clean yet?
It gets worse. There are unwanted visitors that love to snack on these dead skin cells that you share a bed with. They are approximately 0.3mm in size and are a relative to spiders. These creepy crawlies go by the name, Dust Mites. Where there is dust, you will find these mites looking for there next meal. Dust mites release harmful enzymes and allergens through their feces and body fragments, triggering negative immune system responses in in most humans.
Of course, the dust that you find in your home is not 100% dead skin and mites. Dust can contain thousands of different elements which commonly include pollen, pet dander, heavy metals, carpet fibres, insect materials and flame retardants.
Do those sound like harmless items to have around the space where you breath, eat, and sleep most regularly? We don’t think so either.
How is Dust Dangerous?
When we walk around our home, utilize fans to move the air, or try to quickly clean up with a dry duster, we unknowingly stir large amounts of dust into the air. Once dust is airborne, the residents of the home will either inhale it or absorb it through their skin as it settles.
As dust enters the human body, a whole list of adverse health effects can start to take place.
The most common issue people will experience from dust inhalation is rhinitis, tracheitis and bronchitis. This occurs when the foreign dust particles attack the inside of your nose, throat and lungs causing massive inflammation, which can lead to a whole other slew of health issues. If your lungs are constantly exposed to high levels of dust, it is very possible to develop permanent scarring, or fibrosis, which can impair your lung’s overall function.
Other Health Risks Associated with Dust
Other negative dust complications you may experience are the development or increase of allergy symptoms, asthma, coughing, itchy eyes and a runny nose. If the dust in your home is more inorganic, it may contain significant levels of flame retardants, also referred to as PBDEs. These inorganic chemicals may be the cause of some nervous system and thyroid gland issues, especially in children. Studies have indicated that PBDEs could affect brain development and reproductive hormones as well.
If that isn’t bad enough, there are many studies showing that the flame retarding chemicals that can be found in dust are related to the development of cancer and infertility. Lead, TDCIPP (another flame retardant), and phthalates are among the most dangerous chemicals that could be lurking in the dust of your home.
How to Limit Dust Exposure
Now dust is starting to sound a little more frightening, and definitely not just some simple grey fuzz that you find around your home.
If you have young children, all these facts become even more concerning as they can ingest up to 10 grams of dust per day as they crawl around the floor and reach their hands into every nook and cranny.
Luckily, there are many ways to help fight dust, keeping our homes clean and healthy on a daily basis.
The All About Details Cleaning Team has put together a list of the top things you can do to eliminate dust from the home. Follow these protocols to protect yourself and your loved ones from the harmful effects of dust.
1. Clean Often Using Wet Processes
The best way to combat dust is to ensure you are thoroughly cleaning your home often, ideally once a week at a minimum. The less dirt and grime you have around the house, the less likely dust is to develop. The All About Details Team stresses the importance of utilizing “wet processes” when cleaning areas that could harbour large amounts of dust. By using a wet mop or moist microfiber cloth opposed to a dry duster, you will ensure that you are effectively removing all the harmful dust particles instead of pushing them into the air and to other areas of your home.
2. Utilize Vacuums Instead of Brooms
A broom will act in a similar manner to a dry duster, pushing dust into the air that will then settle in other areas or be inhaled by residents. Reach for a high efficiency vacuum instead, ensuring it is equipped with a HEPA filter which will trap and control allergens.
3. Reduce Clutter
By filling a home full of unnecessary furniture and personal items, you are increasing the total surface area dust can settle on. By reducing clutter, you can effectively reduce the amount of dust in your living space. An added benefit to having less items in a home is that it makes it easier to fully clean it. We all know about the dust bunnies that can form under a couch or sofa. Now imagine the amount of dust in a room that has three couches opposed to one. Less mess, less dust.
4. Get Rid of Carpets and Other Dust Grabbing Materials
If you have a family member who has severe allergies or is sensitive to dust, the number one question medical professionals will ask is, “what type of flooring do you have in your home”. Hardwood, laminate and tile floors are easily mopped and do not naturally attract dust particles, where carpeting will act like a magnet for unwanted dirt. Once a carpet collects dust, it is very difficult to completely remove the unwanted particles, unlike a hard surfaced floor, which can be completely cleaned in minutes.
Rip out your carpets and while you are at it, look for any other soft materials that may be maintaining a collection of dust. One of the other common household items that are culprits when it comes to holding dust are fabric curtains. Look to replace those with plastic blinds or shutters.
5. Purchase a High Quality Air Filter
Adding a high quality HEPA air filter in high traffic areas of your home can greatly reduce the amount of airborne particles in a house’s atmosphere. A clean filter can remove up to 99.97% of the harmful materials in the air.
6. Leave Dirt and Grime Outdoors
Up to 90% of the dirt and foreign particles that are found in a home have been tracked indoors by human traffic. Investing in a doormat that is designed to properly clean shoes and a rack to store footwear in your garage will greatly reduce the amount of dirt that finds it’s way into the home, which later becomes visible as dust.
By following these six steps, you will drastically reduce the amount of dangerous dust in your home, keeping your family safe and your home sparkling. Remember, if you are struggling to find the time to clean often, our team at All About Details would love to hear from you! Having a spotless, dust-free home is just a call away!