Ever wonder happens to your body when you breathe in dust? This guide explores the health effects of household and occupational dust.
What is Dust Made From?
Healthy WA defines dust as “a common air pollutant generated by many different sources and activities.” Dust comprises a wide variety of objects that collected from the local environment, such as:
- Biological matter including human skin and skin cells from pets (also known as “dander”)
- Microscopic creatures such as dust mites
- Food debris (especially in the kitchen and dining room)
- Fibres from carpet, bedding, and clothing
- Particulate matter from smoking
Dust often enters a space from the outside in. For example, it can come in through open windows, or it could be tracked inside when people walk in the door. Some examples of matter that could be brought in from the outside world include pollen and soil.
How Do We Breathe in Dust?
Because of its small size, airborne dust can be easily inhaled through the nose or mouth. IN fact, dust particles are so small that they are invisible to the naked eye. There are two different types of dust that can be breathed in:
- Inhalable Dust
These are larger dust particles that can become trapped in your nose and mouth. Due to their larger size, these can usually be exhaled out of the body.
2. Respirable Dust
These are smaller dust particles. They tend to be more dangerous because they have the potential to penetrate the lungs or go directly into the bloodstream.
What is The Impact of Dust on Indoor Air Quality?
Research shows that dust can degrade the quality of air indoors. Data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reveal that the level of indoor pollutants can be between 2 to 5 times higher than outdoor levels. In fact, indoor pollutants can be up to 100 times more damaging than their outdoor equivalents. Poor air quality caused by dust can trigger many health issues, including frequent headaches, long-lasting colds, bronchitis, and/or chronic asthma.
What is the Link Between Dust and Allergies?
Allergies happen when your immune system reacts to a foreign substance. Even minuscule amounts of dust can prompt allergic reactions. Even those who do not have a dust allergy may be allergic to one of the particles it contains. These reactions may vary in severity depending on the individual. Symptoms of a dust allergy include sneezing, a runny nose, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. If you experience severe symptoms, then you may need to see a doctor.
How Does Dust Spread Disease?
Dust is what’s known as a “fomite.” Fomites are inanimate objects that can be contaminated with and spread viruses and infections. Examples of infections that could be transmitted by dust include the cold virus and influenza.
Why is Dust an Occupational Hazard?
Exposure to household dust is unlikely to cause any major health problems; however, working in a dusty environment could be harmful. Studies have shown that repeated, prolonged exposure to high levels of dust can be dangerous for your health. In fact, bronchitis, asthma, and cancer have all been linked with high levels of exposure to dust. In the UK alone, 4,000 people die each year as a result of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease caused by exposure to dust in the workplace. Some examples of job sectors with a high risk of dust exposure include mining, construction, and welding.
Who is at Risk from Dust Exposure?
Some groups of people are more likely to experience health problems as a result of dust exposure. For example, those who have existing respiratory and heart conditions may develop long-term health problems. What’s more, infants, young children, and seniors are likelier to develop health problems from prolonged exposure to high levels of dust.
Find Out More About How Dust Affects Your Health
If you would like to learn more about dust, then you should browse through this useful infographic, which comes courtesy of the team at The Cleaning Services Group. This highly informative guide explores the most common sources of household dust and also lays out the different types of dust. It also outlines the numerous ways in which exposure to high levels of dust can affect your health. In addition, it provides ten top tips for effectively cleaning away dust.