Reduce Dust – Breathe Cleaner Air

Controlling dust within the home is a constant battle for nearly everyone. Numerous sources cause dust and it continually collects on almost any surface in the house. Even with diligent cleaning, it seems to reappear as soon as you turn around. A variety of entry points and methods bring dust into your home’s environment. These places are where you need to tackle the dust in order to minimize it. Although you can noticeably reduce the amount of grime, dirt, soil and filth that originates from these sources, it is nearly impossible to completely eliminate dust.

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 is Dust?

Dust is matter that consists assorted ingredients in the form of very fine particles. It is classified as a solid particle, 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.

Larger particles over 10 microns will settle onto surfaces very rapidly, often within just a few seconds. Because of this, large dust particles aren’t filtered by your HVAC air filter as it never gets pulled into the duct work via the return air vents.  Other particles are so fine that they function like a gas and have no rate of fall whatsoever. These particles, usually less than 1/10th of a micron, remain suspended in the air and are only affected by nearby currents or movement. Small particles between 1.0 – 10.0 microns will take several minutes to make their way to the nearest table, shelf, or floor. Particles this size will make up the majority of those that are able to be collected by your furnace filter or AC filter.

All About Dust

  • On average, households accumulate about 40 pounds of dust each year
  • Dust allergies are triggered by dust mites 
  • Persistent cold and hay fever symptoms are often due to a dust allergy
  • Household dust is the main contributor to indoor allergies
  • The particle size of atmospheric dust varies greatly between .001 – 40 microns
  • July and August are the months for dust allergies as the dust mite population increases, but they can also present problems during the cooler months as more time is spent indoors.

Symptoms of a Dust Allergy

  • 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

dust

How to Control Dust

  • 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 décor 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 Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)

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.

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