THE DUST WE BREATHE
The Dust We Breathe
A normal adult breathes
in around 66 lbs. of air every day and it contains literally
billions-upon-billions of dirt particles. Considering that
we spend an average of 90 percent of our time indoors, it
becomes obvious that to keep allergies and irritants at bay,
we should make sure that the air we breathe is as contaminant
free as possible.
Studies have shown that
the air that circulates in a normal home is as dirty as that
of a large city. As a result, an average person can expect
to breathe in around 50 billion contaminant particles per
Air-borne dirt comes from
a number of sources: cars, vegetation, industries, smoke,
pets and people. Pollen and dust mites, two of the most common
irritants, are so small that they are invisible to the naked
eye. Even dust mite droppings can easily enter our lungs and
irritate our eyes.
Dirt is in our schools,
workplaces, homes and in our cars. If the buildings where
we spend large parts of our day are ventilated, things can
get even worse. Poorly maintained ventilation systems are
a prime source of "bad air," air that contains mold and bacteria
circulated together with all the other particulate matter
we end up breathing.
How Small is Small?
The particles that float
in the air around us are so small that individually, they
range from being hard to spot to completely invisible. They
are easily whipped up from floors and surfaces to drift around
until they either gently settle again, or are inhaled into
When you consider that the
average human hair is between 50 to 100 microns across, a
dirt particle of 0.06 microns seems unimportant. But in large
quantities, even particles this small can cause all kinds
of problems. In high concentrations they cause problems in
the form of irritations, allergies, asthma and bronchitis.
Realistically, dirt particles
will always be in the air no matter how often we clean. By
keeping these particles at lower levels we can reduce their
ill effects on our health.
What's the answer?
old expression, "Cleanliness is next to godliness" could easily
be rewritten to say "Cleanliness is next to healthiness" especially
when it comes to allergies.
Vacuum! Keep the place clean.
There is no simpler way to stop dirt from fouling the indoor
air we breathe than to vacuum often. Choose a vacuum cleaner
with strong suction, an airtight, sealed design and a filter
that stops dust from leaking back into the room once it's
been vacuumed up.
Clean those hard-to-reach
places too. Vacuum underneath sofas and beds, behind furniture
and pay special attention to corners and around the baseboards.
Door frames, ceiling fans, louvered doors and mini blinds
all collect dust.
Kitchens and bathrooms are
prime places where dirt just seems to appear and where it
can have detrimental affects on our health. These rooms tend
to be damp which provides lots of food for microbes to thrive
on. Damp dirt is more harmful than dry dirt. While most microorganisms
dry out and eventually die in dry conditions, they thrive
where it is damp. The same rule applies to the microbes that
live in the dust and dirt in our homes. When you vacuum in
damp conditions it is important to change the filter bag frequently.
Otherwise, any bacteria or molds that have collected in the
filter bag will multiply.
Think of the word vacuum
as a "verb" rather than a "noun". No vacuum cleaner is of
any use at all if it just sits in a closet waiting to be plugged
in. Your vacuum cleaner is also more efficient when the filter
bag is changed regularly and not allowed to become overfilled.
If you reuse the filter bag instead of replacing it with a
new one you are wasting your time hoping for good filtration.
Eureka makes triple filtration, sealable filter bags especially
for people who have allergies.
Bagless vacuum cleaners
can make it easy for people
to avoid the whole problem of remembering to change the bag.
The bagless cassette can be emptied after each use and then
snapped back into place. Many however do not consider bagless to be very hypoallergenic. Many times when you empty a bagless vacuum you are exposed to dust and allergens and may spread them back into the home.
Not all vacuum cleaners
are created equal. Some may suck in dirt, but they'll also
let it out again. In this way, they work pretty much like
a broom. While they may give you a visibly clean home at a
reasonable price, real cleaning and filtration can be missing.
A better solution is to
invest in a sealed vacuum cleaner that offers the same filtration
as a professional air cleaner, filtering all air traveling
through the system so that only clean air comes out of the
vacuum. Vacuums with True HEPA capture 100% of dust mites
and ragweed pollens along with hundreds of other allergens
and irritants. True HEPA filtration is the same standard used by hospitals
and is available in models with bags as well as bagless cyclonic
models. To guarantee the best filtration, change the HEPA filter per the manufacturers direction. Be sure to read the wording that describes a vacuums filtering system; not all HEPA vacuums are True HEPA. Look for a sealed vacuum device such as those from BOSCH, Lindhaus and the Eureka Oxygen series.
Granted, vacuuming is work,
but it's good for you and your family. Vacuuming keeps the
dirt out of your home. Vacuuming frequently also saves you
the work of a major clean-up, reducing dust on surfaces, cobwebs
in corners and dust bunnies underneath furniture. Reducing
the dust we breathe is good for everyone's health.