Written by Mark Sneller, PhD,
House dust: Just what is this stuff that causes perennial allergic rhinitis, bronchial asthma and respiratory allergy?
House dust is a complex mixture composed of pollens and spores; plant hairs and flower parts that are tracked indoors; fragments and feces from insects such as moths, cockroaches, ants, silverfish, spiders, and mites; fibers of material made from cellulose such as cotton, wool, linen, jute, wood kapok; man-made fibers such as fiberglass, nylon, plastic, rubber; animal and human hair and skin cells; cigarette smoke; fireplace soot; diesel exhaust carbon; lead; insecticides; aerosols from personal care products; and cat and dog antigen. It also may include food particles, such as allergenic wheat products, and tracked-in dirt that becomes worn to a powder.
Whew. Who would have thought all these substances could reside in such a tiny particle?
The chief problem with house dust comes from the ninety percent that settles on surfaces, not the ten percent that floats in the air. One study showed that the average six-room home can accumulate up to forty pounds of dust per year. The worst areas of the home for house dust are the carpet (especially deep pile), upholstered furniture, mattresses, box springs, blankets, bedspreads, comforters, quilts, drapes, and stuffed animals. Usually older upholstered furniture causes more allergies, because it has deeper layers of dust and a larger reservoir of dust mites.
Here are few ways to reduce household dust.
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