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Where does all this house dust come from? This is one of the age-old questions housewives across the world have been asking for thousands of years. Even now, with Science on tap to answer this difficult questions, people are still heard to utter, usually in frustration, the question that has blighted clean homes from continent to continent. It can seem a losing battle when after a thorough clean, the dust returns after just a few hours. So what exactly is dust and where does it come from?

It might not be surprising to discover that over 60% of dust found indoors in fact originates from outside the home. The most recent study of house dust, found that household dust consists of a mixture of various substances. These include dead skin shed by humans and pets, carpet and upholstery fibres, dirt brought in on the soles of shoes, as well as particles blown in on the breeze from outdoors.

what-is-house-dustMore worryingly, are the substances found in dust, which can be harmful in some situations. Arsenic and lead are just two potentially harmful substances which have been discovered in house dust. For most adults, these will not pose a problem but young children can be affected. This is the case due to a child’s propensity for putting dust-contaminated toys and similar objects into their mouths.

A large ratio of dust found in the home is made up of old skin cells. Have you ever noticed how most dust is of a translucent grey color? Well, that’s because a great deal of what you are seeing is in fact, tiny flakes of human skin. People naturally come in all colors but the layer of skin that we shed is above the pigmentation layer. Therefore, it is of the same translucent form from human to human.

When we take into consideration the amount of skin we shed in one year, it is surprising that we do not suffer from much more dust in our homes. It has been calculated that the average person sheds about half a kilogram of skin a year, with new skin cells replacing the old.

The dust that originates from outside the home, is comprised of dust particles from a wider variety of sources. These again include skin cells from the general population, as well as from animals and plants. Ash from volcanoes, pollen, decaying matter and even ocean salts can be included in the make up of the invading dust. Add to this mix, the smoke from garden fires, factories, traffic and forest fires around the world. All of these rise into the atmosphere and circle the globe, eventually coming to rest on the ground.

In another article during the week, I will explore the best ways to rid your home of dust and how to keep your family protected from dust allergies. I will also explore the dreaded dust mite! Subscribe to Home Interior Design Themes to keep updated.