Controlling the level of dust indoors is a continuous struggle for nearly everyone. Dust originates from numerous sources and persistently collects on almost any surface. Despite ongoing efforts and diligent cleaning, it always seems to return before you know it. It is constantly introduced into your home’s environment through a variety of entry points and methods. The most effective way to minimize dust is to tackle it at its source. While you can noticeably reduce the amount of grime, dirt, soil and filth that originates from these sources, dust will still be very difficult to completely eliminate.
Outdoor sources: dirt, wind, sand, gravel, streets, sidewalks, garages/driveways, construction, industrial areas
Indoor sources: clothing, dryers, skin flakes/dander, ventilation, carpeting, furniture, linens/drapery, electronics, pets, attics, basements, closets, storage areas, remodeling projects
What exactly is dust?
Dust is matter that consists of various fine particles of assorted ingredients. It is classified as a solid particle that is formed by the reduction of a larger particle: indoor and outdoor debris, soot and ashes, food crumbs, dander and skin flakes, mold and mold spores, dust mites and their debris, insect particles, household fibers, lint, hair and fur, and pollen.
Large particles over 10 microns will settle onto surfaces very rapidly, often within just a few seconds. Because of the faster rate of fall, this type of dust is nearly impossible to be filtered by your HVAC air filter as it will rarely have a chance to be pulled into the duct-work by your return air vents. Some particles are so fine that they function like gases and have no rate of fall whatsoever. These particles, usually less than 1/10th of a micron, will remain suspended in the air only affected by nearby currents or movement. Small particles in the range of 1.0 – 10.0 microns will take several minutes to make their way to the nearest table, shelf, or floor. Particles in this size range will make up the majority of those that are able to be collected by your furnace filter or AC filter.
- The average household accumulates about 40 pounds of dust each year
- Dust mites are a primary trigger for those with dust allergies
- Persistent cold and hay fever symptoms are often due to an allergy to dust
- Household dust is the main contributor to indoor allergies
- The particle size of atmospheric dust varies greatly between .001 – 40 microns
- Dust allergies tend to flare during the months of July and August when the dust mite population increases, but can also present problems during the cooler months when we typically spend more time indoors.
Dust allergy symptoms
- ongoing cold symptoms
- itchy, red, watery eyes
- runny nose, frequent sneezing
- cough, headache, fatigue
- symptoms that worsen when sweeping, dusting, changing bedding/linens, or vacuuming
Dust and other airborne particulate matter can cause these symptoms in those that have a sensitivity or allergy to the type of particle being inhaled. Some allergens, such as soot, ash, lint and pollen, are proven to cause reactive symptoms even when there is no known allergy to that substance. Contaminants and allergens can trigger these reactions in non-allergic individuals simply because they are classified as irritants. This irritation or onset of symptoms will arise when the particles are inhaled. Our respiratory tract allows entry of these particles to different levels based on the size of the particle. The levels can be divided into three areas:
- Inhalable – particles that are less than 100 microns and can be breathed in through the nose and mouth
- Thoracic – particles that are less than 10 microns and can pass the larynx, trachea, and enter into the bronchial region
- Respirable – particles that are less than 4 microns reach the gas exchange region in the lower airways
Keeping Dust Under Control
- Use a vacuum with HEPA filtration
- Frequently clean all of your hard surfaces. Remember air vents, fan blades, books, shelves, door and window frames, vases, artwork, pictures, wall hangings, collectibles, electronics
- Clean and seal ventilation and ducts
- Use an air filter with a higher MERV rating to capture the finest dust particles. A MERV 13 pleated air filter is recommended for those with the most severe allergies and excessive dust issues
- Allowing your system fan to run more frequently to recirculate the air so your air filter can remove the most dust and prevent more from gathering on surfaces
- Consider reducing the number of cloth items such as drapes, pillows, upholstered furniture, and carpeted surfaces or include them in the list of items that should be cleaned or vacuumed regularly
- Think about using simple, smoother decor that is less ornate and detailed which will not be as prone to harbor dust and will be easier to keep clean
- Add entry rugs or mats to all doorways leading in and out of the home to better collect and contain incoming debris from shoes and pets
- Keep walkways, decks, patios, and garage areas swept to lessen the amount of dirt that can be tracked into the home
Minimizing Dust Improves Your IAQ – Indoor Air Quality
Nobody wants to breathe dirty air. There’s no doubt that improving the quality of air in your home is highly beneficial. The air you breathe can have a significant impact on allergy symptoms, asthma triggers, and your overall level of comfort. You air transports allergens and contaminants, allowing them to be inhaled or to settle on surfaces where they can spread to other areas. Using high-efficiency pleated air filters is a great added level of defense in helping to clean your air from allergens and dust. Using a minimum of a MERV 8 rating will help to collect large amounts of dirt and debris, not only protecting your HVAC system, but going above and beyond by capturing common allergens such as pet dander, dust mite debris, pollen, and mold spores. Upgrading to a higher level such as MERV 11 or MERV 13 is recommended for those who desire a greater percentage of dust collection and trapping the smallest allergens.
At US Home Filter, we take pride in helping our customers find the best filtration solutions to fit their individual needs. Whether you need help with one of our standard stock size air filters, a Whole House Air Cleaner replacement filter, Grille filters, or a custom size air filter built to your specifications, we will be happy to personally assist you with any of your filtration needs!