“Where Do Dust Bunnies Come From?” Finally, an Answer

October 29, 2009 at 9:48 AM Leave a comment

Anyone who has had the pleasure of cleaning their home or office has likely pondered a question which has puzzled and perplexed men and women for generations: where does all this dust come from?

Scientists in Arizona are offering an answer: most indoor dust comes from outdoors. A report detailing their findings is scheduled for the November 1 issue of the American Chemical Society’s semi-monthly journal Environmental Science.

In the study, researchers David Layton and Paloma Beamer identified household dust as a mixture of dead skin cells, fibers from carpets and upholstered furniture, and tracked-in soil and airborne particles blown in from outdoors.

Most surprisingly, the dust collecting in those hard-to-reach corners can include lead, arsenic and other potentially harmful substances that migrate indoors from outside air and soil. This can be an alarming concern for children, who consume those substances by playing on the floor and putting dust-contaminated toys and other objects into their mouths. It seems a clean home is not only a happy home, but a healthy one as well.

According to the study, arsenic present in ambient air accounted for nearly 60% of the arsenic input to floor dust, with soil track-in representing the remainder.

The researchers developed a computer model which can be used to evaluate methods for reducing contaminants in dust and associated human exposures. In the meantime, grab your Swiffer and get cleaning!

Information for this article was obtained from the American Chemical Society, Environmental Science and Technology, Science Daily, and Healthy Aging.

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