What is Particulate?
House dust (particulate matter) appears to come from nowhere. Particulate can float in the air for minutes or hours even though we can rarely see even the largest particles without a beam of sunlight to help. It seems you no more than clean a surface and within hours, sometimes minutes, dust will reappear again. What is this stuff? Where does it come from?
Approximately 20% of the dust in an average home will consist of pollen, mold spores, insect parts, microscopic urine and fecal particles from pet accidents, dust mites, mite excrement, and fibers from clothing, carpet, paper towels, tissues and toilet paper. When inhaled, these dust particles can trigger allergies and asthma, and cause a long list of ill health affects.
The remaining 80% of house dust is not much better. It is dead skin cells (dander) from humans and pets. Pound for pound, most of this dander comes from humans. Each person in your home will create about tens of thousands of particles every minute. We shed billions of these particles everyday and there is no way to stop it. Outdoors it would not matter, but indoors these dead skin particles become the primary food source for dust mites and mold which in turn further denigrate indoor air quality. Once you understand what dust is made of, you begin to understand the importance of controlling the dust in your home. Here are some rules to follow:
1. Do not use feather dusters or similar devices, and do not sweep floors indoors with brooms. Both of these processes do little to clean dust, but do a lot to send it flying back into the air you breathe. Damp wiping, damp mopping, or vacuuming is the best way to collect dust rather than scattering it.
2. Contrary to what your doctor may have told you, unless your carpet is very old, has not been maintained, or has been contaminated from pets, water incursion, or sewer back-up, do not get rid of your carpet. Carpet actually helps to prevent dust particles from reentering the air. It is however very important to regularly maintain carpet by cleaning and vacuuming. Floors with wood, vinyl or tile coverings must be damp mopped much more frequently to keep particles from re-circulating back into air you breathe.
3. Use a vacuum cleaner that has good carpet pile agitation and strong suction power. Quality bags are important but typically are not enough to trap the more serious ultra fine particles that go deep into the recesses of the lungs. Your vacuum should therefore have HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filtration. Whether your vacuum cleaner is bag or bag-less, they should always be changed or emptied outdoors to prevent loose dust from readily re-contaminating your indoor air.
4. Use quality furnace filters to help capture airborne particles. Setting your furnace fan switch to the “on” position will continuously circulate air and help capture dust particles as they are being created. Leaving your fan run can greatly reduce the amount of indoor particles you inhale, keep your entire house cleaner, and maintain oxygen and temperature levels more equally around your home.
5. Replace the missing electrical ions to your indoor air. Ions are an invisible form of electrical energy in air that clean our air of particulate matter. They are essential because without them we would not be able to breathe at all outdoors. Through direct sunshine and lightning, ions are made continuously outdoors and are in abundant supply. However, we spend approximately 90% of our time indoors where we do not have the benefits of ions to clean particles from our air. Electrical ions are like little magnets. Just as a magnet can pick up many metal paper clips in one lump, ions can bond many dust particles together. The newly formed and larger dust particles become too heavy to stay floating in the air, so they fall out of the air where they can be cleaned or more readily trapped in a filter. Air purifiers can be purchased to replace the missing ions in your indoor air. Some ionizers will replace ions only in a single room necessitating a machine for each room. Better ionizers are available which can replace the ions throughout an average size home with only one machine needed.
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