Many people are aware of health risks from exposure to outdoor pollution or sources like cigarette smoke, but many remain ignorant of health hazards from indoor dust.
What can indoor dust do to your body?
On the surface, dust may seem trivial, more of an annoyance than a health risk. However, think about it carefully. Dust contains various harmful substances, such as bacteria, viruses, mold, lead, endocrine disrupters, and cancer-causing chemicals. Because indoor environments have a limited volume of air, low levels of dust and pollutants can make up higher concentrations of these particles per breath, contributing to higher levels of risk to the human body.
The most vulnerable are young children. They spend a lot of time indoors, often at floor level, playing and putting toys or objects in their mouths. They may swallow indoor dust via a hand-to-mouth behavior as they play on the floor, becoming exposed to harmful chemicals in the dust. This reality, coupled with physiological factors including a smaller body size and an immature immune system, make children particularly at risk from pollutants in indoor dust.
How can you reduce health risk from indoor dust?
Fortunately, we can control indoor dust. Spring cleaning is an excellent opportunity to do so. Here are seven simple yet effective ways to control dust and pollutants in your home:
1. Use a wet cloth, instead of “dry dusting” them around.
2. Leave your shoes near the door, if possible. A recent study revealed that most floor dust is actually tracked in from the outside and may contain potentially harmful substances.
3. Regularly replace filters on heating and air-conditioning systems. The filters help remove dust from indoor air, as long as they are cleaned, well maintained, and/or periodically replaced.
4. Install an air purifier. Air-purification devices can help reduce the amount of pollutants present in closed indoor spaces.
5. Decorate with house plants. House plants not only convert carbon dioxide to oxygen but also absorb some pollutants to make air cleaner. However, not all house plants can function efficiently in filtering out pollutants or toxins from indoor air. Make sure to pick the right one.
6. Open windows and use a fan when cleaning. The act of cleaning stirs settled dust into the air. When cleaning, point the fan toward the window or use the fan against the window to blow dust outside.
7. Change the bags in your vacuum cleaners often. Vacuum cleaners whose bags are overfull will not function properly, only dispersing dust into the air – very counterproductive indeed.
Photo Credit: by whgrad
What else can you add to the list? What experience can you share?