What Is Dust Made Of?

Many people think that dust is mostly made up of human skin, but luckily that is just a common misconception. The reality is, most skin particles are shed in the shower or bath.

The truth is, the majority of household dust (as much as two thirds) has origins outdoors. It makes its way inside the house as dirt on the bottom of your shoes, as well as through doors and windows as pollen, soot, and other airborne particles. The remaining minority is made up of carpet and clothing fibers and pet hair.

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The idea that dust is mostly human skin may sound scientific, but it’s a relief to know that it is just a myth perpetuated by its gross shock value. It is often even overblown by saying that up to 80 percent of dust consists of human skin, but this is simply not possible unless you yourself are molting like some kind of lizard. In truth, dust contains very few skin particles (unless there’s something you need to tell us about your secret reptile identity).

And besides, there are several more common dust components, such as animal dander and hair, sand, dirt, and even powders from the kitchen (flour, salt, spices). Each time we open our home to the elements, via a window or door, we set in motion these tiny particles and they eventually settle in our homes as dust.

To be clear, dead skin does get shed, it just doesn’t end up under the bed or on our coffee tables. It ends up in our drains post-shower or after grooming, where we don’t have to worry about it!

The Dangers of Dust
We all find dust a nuisance, but too much dust can become more than just a minor inconvenience. It can become a health concern for everyone exposed. Insects are attracted to dust, and allergens can settle and get mixed in with it. If inhaled or ingested, humans and pets alike can suffer the adverse effects, like allergies and illness.

Dust Mites
Dust mites are the microscopic pests that live in and feed on the dust in your home. They are so small, most people do not even know they are there. They can be found in the soft spaces of your home that gather dust or provide a space for dust to settle. These spaces include carpets, curtains, mattresses, and upholstered furniture. Because they are so tiny, it is hard to know whether or not they are in the home, and how many there are. Dust mite numbers vary from a few thousand to the millions.

While your skin is still crawling from these facts and figures, take it a step further and think about how much waste these millions of mites are likely producing. And while these mites are merely feeding on your dust, their waste can carry diseases and illnesses that can become airborne.

Allergic Reactions
Certain types of dust, or just too much of it, can cause allergy problems for humans and pets alike. Often these allergic reactions are simply a mild inconvenience, but in more sensitive individuals, they can become very serious.

Because dust is made up of so many different particles, it can be difficult to figure out what exactly is causing allergies. This can then hinder the treatment process and delay a solution. To make it a bit simpler, here are a few signs you may be allergic to your household dust:

Runny nose
Itchy, red, or teary eyes
Skin irritation

If these symptoms are feeling all too familiar, it may be a good idea to get an allergy test to really pinpoint the cause.


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