Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Get Out the Dust Buster

Someone once asked me what dust was, not dust of the earth, but rather those pesky amorphous flakes of unknown substance resting on all inanimate objects on our trophy cases. Hmmm. That is a good question. I've always thought that it was dead skin cells, but what is this mysterious stuff we call "dust" for real?

Well, I was partly right:
Dust is made of just about everything. Household dust is composed primarily of things like human skin and hair, waxes, pollen, mold, fungi, lichen, tiny particles of wood, paint, fibers from fabrics such as wool, nylon, rayon, acrylic (and in the disco '70s lots and lots of polyester), foam rubber, sheet rock, plant and vegetable matter, insect parts, and of course every form of pollution such as auto and industrial emissions, heavy hydrocarbon waste from your oil or gas heater, even tiny bits of metal debris from door hinges or any place where metal and friction meet, lots of food waste, and loads of paper fiber...

Ahhhh. Most disturbing: dust mites.
Unseen in the dust where we rest are colonies of eight-legged relatives to spiders and lobsters, mating, defecating and gorging themselves on our cast-off skin.

Arlian, who has studied dust mites for more than 30 years, says that by the end of summer our beds and easy chairs are often teeming with microscopic dust mites. He said past studies in Miami Valley homes have found as many as 18,000 mites per gram of dust.

Dust mites are more than just creepy; they're harmful. Researchers believe the critters and their waste can cause asthma, coughing, itchy eyes and running noses and may account for about 30 percent of all allergic discomfort.

Holy Cow! Gross. I had no idea that dust was as completely disgusting as it is. My question now is how can those silly feather dusters work? Don't they just spread the dead cells/mites/debris around more? I think you are going to have to excuse me while I go start my dusting.

What is Everyday Dust Made of?
Life Nuts and Bolts; Household Dust is a Fact of Life

1 comment:

  1. Oh my gosh! That is gross. I want to stay home from school now and clean my apartment from top to bottom. I have my windows open all the time and it gets dusty in my apartment fast. But dust mites?!?