Do you ever feel like no matter how much you clean, you can’t get rid of dust? Yep, it can be a pain for anyone who likes a clean and tidy home, but it can also be far more serious.
While dusting can be consuming to for many of us, dust isn’t just an annoyance, it’s actually a health issue.
And that isn’t surprising at all, when you find out just what is in house dust.
More than just plain dirt, dust is actually a mix of skin cells, hair, clothing fibres, bacteria, dust mites, pieces of dead bugs, soil particles, pollen, and microscopic specks of plastic. And it gets worse.
Those hairs and old skin cells can also bring a heap of pollutants in from consumer products we use outside the home. Other environmental contaminants can be tracked indoors on the soles of our shoes. Dust can even hold a mix of organic pollutants, metals, endocrine disruptors, and more.
Understandably, when it accumulates, it becomes more than just a mere inconvenience, as it can cause serious breathing-related issues, and even cardiovascular health problems. Fine dust particles are more likely to penetrate deeply into the lungs while ultrafine particles can be absorbed directly into the blood stream. People with existing respiratory and heart conditions, including smokers, are at risk of developing long-term health problems from exposure, and babies, young children and elderly people are also more likely to develop health problems from long term exposure to high levels of dust. So how do you clean it? First up, invest in an air purifier that utilises a HEPA filter -- Generally, HEPA filters can trap at least 99.95 per cent of dust, smoke, mould and other particles in the air, down to a tiny 0.3 microns in size. By placing them by the windows, you can stop the countless particles outside from coming into the house in the first place. you reduce the amount of pollen and air borne bacteria. It will clean the air inside your house and make breathing safer for you and your children.
You should also vacuum weekly, also using a HEPA filter. If you have asthma yourself, get someone else to vacuum and leave the room for at least 20 minutes, as vacuuming can stir up the dust mite allergen.
Aside from household dust and the dangers it can present, did you also know that building sites are also places where dust can be a real health issue? In fact, along with other OHS issues that crop up, the silent danger on work sites is the dust given-off when materials such as concrete, reconstituted stone, brick and sandstone are cut or drilled.
You see, when these materials are drilled they give off invisible particles called silica dust, referred to by doctors as ‘respirable crystalline silica’. These ultra-fine particles can be breathed into the lung tissue where they accumulate and can lead to silicosis (irreversible stiffening of the lungs), lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease.
So how do you clean that? Well, there are two main ways to mitigate the dust created on sites – suppressing the dust with water at the cutting area -- dampening down the area being drilled stops particles from becoming airborne -- and extracting it using kits that remove the dust with an M-class vacuum extractor. And these days, workplace regulators and bodies such as SafeWork NSW, SafeWork Australia and WorkSafe Victoria are introducing guidelines for employers to monitor air quality and worker exposure to silica dust.
After all, it isn’t just the person who’s using the tool who is at risk on sites – everyone sharing a workspace can breathe it in.
Feature image: Coates Hire