Monday, November 16, 2009


Dust comes from two sources—indoors and outdoors. Indoor dust is composed of residue from carpet fibers, skin cells, bug parts, and other decomposing household materials, while outdoor dust is made up of soil particles. ’Dustologists’ have found that dust is actually very complicated– both types can be mixed with a variety of organic and inorganic compounds, some of which may be harmful. For example, DDT, a chemical long banned in the U.S., is still found in dust samples today, as are toxic flame-retardants from industrially-manufactured furniture. However, most dust in our homes– upwards of two-thirds– is of the outdoor variety. Outdoor dust is either tracked in on shoes or blown in through doors and windows. Humans then assimilate dust through respiration and ingestion. So, how do you reduce your dust exposure? The answer is simple—vacuum, often, with a vacuum that has a HEPA filter. Oh, and tell your kids not to lick things.

To read more or listen to the story, visit NPR’s website:

- R. Poor, Science Policy Intern

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