Dust

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What is DustDust is a virtually inescapable part of our everyday lives. It is in our homes, on the streets of our cities, inside, outside… everywhere. Many don’t notice. Many others consider it to be a nuisance. And for some, it poses serious health risks, such as dust related allergies, or respiratory diseases. Dust is ultimately inescapable, but there are ways to effectively fight dust, minimize our exposure to it, combat its adverse health effects, and improve the air quality in our homes.

But what is dust? The short answer is, minute particulate matter in the air; the longer is that there are many different types of dust, which can be classified according to where it’s found, its particular composition, etc. To find out more about the types of dust, check out the page on “What is Dust?”

The form of dust that most commonly affects all of us is domestic dust, or house dust–small particles in the air of our homes and businesses, usually (but not always or exclusively) consisting of dead human and animal cells, as well as other particles commonly found in the air. There is dust in the greater atmosphere as well, and some of this particulate matter is of concern to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is the Federal agency responsible for regulating on environmental matters and ensuring a clean air free of harmful pollutants.

Modern technology has enabled us to fight dust more effectively and limit our exposure to harmful dust particles that may cause allergies or other adverse health effects–think of air filters and air purifiers, as well as personal protective respirators that can filter the air we breathe, or provide us with an alternative, clean air supply.

Most people are of course familiar with the term “dust,” but when it comes to giving it a precise definition that is objective, accurate, or scientific if you will, many would not be able to tell you what the different types of dust are, what the range of elements that dust can be composed of is, how dust and the living world interact on a biological level, or what the adverse health effects of extended exposure to house dust are.

So let’s clear some of the confusion and state that dust is any solid particle in the air that is under 500 micrometers in diameter. That being said, there are different kinds of dust that are common both inside our buildings, as well as out in the atmosphere, and even in outer space; the physical and chemical composition of dust varies considerably. Generally speaking, dust can be classified into three broad categories depending on where it is found: there is domestic dust (or house dust), which is found in our homes, businesses, and any other building interior. There is also atmospheric dust, in the greater atmosphere of the Earth, natural as well as man-made. And dust can also be found in outer space–think of the famous term “stardust,” or Carl Sagan’s widely recognized assertion that we ourselves were made of “star stuff” (i.e., dust, or particulate matter, that originated from the stars). This type, we can call cosmic dust.

While cosmic dust is not an immediate concern of the ordinary person as house dust, or some of the particulate matter that pollutes the atmosphere, it is nonetheless an essential constitutive element of the cosmos, whose importance has lately been recognized more and more in modern astronomy.

To find out more about these issues in depth, check out the various pages on Dust.com, as well as the Links page, which can direct you toward more resources on dust-related things and clean air solutions.