Dust, Dirt and Diseases and how they can harm your family’s health

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Mites and molds can trigger allergies and bring toxins to our bodies.

After a long bout of rain and cold weather, the holiday season is most welcome and it is fast approaching. The season signals a much awaited vacation, something that will definitely not put anyone in “cleaning mode.” Aside from break’s heat-related illnesses, the dry weather brings about an excess of dust and dirt. We may not realize it, but the combination can be harmful to one’s health.

The Science Behind Dust – There’s no stopping dust from coming into our homes no matter how often we clean. Household dust is made up of so many things: fiber, lint, human and animal hair, pet dander, pollen grains, dead insect parts, plant parts, food, crumbs, mold spores and bacteria. The researchers discovered that the specific dust mix in a household varies according to climate or weather, the age of the house, the number of people living in it and their cooking, cleaning and smoking habits. Aside from the components mentioned above, they found tracked-in soil, soot, particulate matter from smoking or cooking, even lead and arsenic. Sixty percent of dust comes from outside, through windows, doors, vents and soles of shoes.

Toxic Chemicals in Household Dust – Dust can act as a reservoir for environmental pollutants. They found a mix of harmful “endocrine disrupting chemicals” in dust under beds. These may be inhaled or ingested and have been linked to health problems, including impaired fertility, cancer and attention deficit disorders. The toxic chemicals include brominated diphenyl ethers (flame retardants), bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates (“plasticisers of plastics, principally PVC’). These EDCs have cocktail or combination effects. Even at very low concentrations, they may have cumulative and delayed effects that can only be revealed in later stages of life. The study was done to urge those involved to act for environmental safety, especially to protect young children. The bottom line is that these chemicals do not belong in the environment – more so in our bedrooms.

Harmful to one’s health – Aside from the possibility of toxicity, exposure to dust causes problems like sneezing, eye irritation, allergies, skin irritation or asthma. Dust attracts more dust, and it always comes back even to those who are meticulously clean. Dust mites are microscopic organisms that feed on dead human skin cells. They thrive in humid environments and abound in beddings, carpets and mattresses. Mite allergens come from feces and insect fragments. These are notorious triggers of allergies and asthma.

Where dust mites thrive – Knowing the enemy is the first step to winning the battle. Dust mites stay in humid environments and feed on shed skin. They prefer warm temperatures, poorly ventilated areas and rooms with indoor air pollution such as cigarette smoke. This makes it imperative to clean the house regularly. Do not smoke or allow smoking inside the house, or walk around the house while eating. Avoid bringing dirty shoes inside. Other tips include:

Get rid of dust mites, prevent dust from accumulating, be alert for dirt.

Busting dust, room to room – The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology has an extensive guide for home allergy management which can be used as a cleaning guide for dust removal. Examples include:

Living room: Remove carpets and draperies, Limit the number of indoor plants and potted soil, Set cockroach traps and seal cracks to prevent infestation, Store books in a box to prevent dust collection, Avoid dried flower arrangements or straw baskets.

Bedroom: Avoid beddings with feathers, kapok or rubber, Avoid stuffed toys,  keep washable tos in a closed plastic container when not in use.

Kitchen:  Take trash out regularly, Try not to leave food out to a void cockroaches,  Remove visible molds on walls, Fix leaky faucets and pipes.

Bathroom: Wash pets regularly to minimize pet dander, Clean and sanitize regularly, Keep the bathroom well-ventilated to prevent molds.

The home should be a haven, a sanctuary, a place of safety and security. It should not be the cause of illnesses. Make cleanliness a habit – and secure the health of your loved ones.

Vance Madrid

Freelance writer, lifestyle blogger, social media manager, events coordinator, scriptwriter, film buff, wanderlust and certified foodie. Zealous for a keyboard and new experiences, I wish to live and learn through my writing.