Have you ever seen small clouds of dust in the home, clouds that have only become visible because of the presence of sunlight? The chances are you will have marvelled briefly at such a sight, and maybe you will have watched some of the dust specks make their way around the room, moving at the mercy of almost imperceptive air waves. What you might not have thought about, however, was whether or not such particles are dangerous to your health.
Invisible but highly dangerous
Most of the time, these mini-clouds are invisible to the human eye, but their existence, and their potential to cause harm, are all too real. The main ingredients of household dust are dead bugs, human skin and general debris, all of which could be carrying dangerous viruses around the room and into your lungs. Most household dust isn’t harmful, although it is if you have certain allergies, but some tiny specks can prove extremely problematic to all of us.
Non-standard dust can be particularly harmful to our complex airways system. This can include small particles of wood, sand, dirt and, especially harmful, asbestos. In general, we tend to associate poor air quality with the workplace, but in recent times we’ve become increasingly aware of the need for improved domestic Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) and the products that can help us find it. We shouldn’t be making assumptions that the IAQ in our homes is as good as it could be.
It looks clean, but is it?
The problem for many is the erroneous belief that if the air in the home looks clean then it must be clean. Invisible airborne pollutants come in many forms, and in most cases they come from the activities that we, as a society, have developed and encouraged. They include carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, both of which are by-products of the burning of fossil fuels in cars, trucks, factories, power stations and airplanes.
Concerted exposure to dust over a period of years, generally a workplace issue, can be difficult, if not impossible, to recover from, but lower levels of contamination in the home will often give people time to recover. The lungs are capable of healing if the damage isn’t too concentrated, with the help of specialist cells called macrophages, which can detect and destroy harmful bacteria. The best way to deal effectively with IAQ problems, however, is to invest in specialist equipment.
Effective, responsive ventilation systems for the home can make properties safer, cleaner and far more comfortable. Keeping indoor air as clean as possible is a must for all home owners these days, especially in the face of contaminants that you can’t even see. The debate about IAQ levels for homes and workplaces is likely to continue in the coming years, but the underlying message is a simple one: your lungs are delicate, sensitive and hugely important, so you should be doing all you can to protect them.