Sure, you may dust, but what about the top of the ceiling fan or behind the refrigerator? How bad is a dust bunny here and there anyway?
Bad, experts say.
Dust buildup can cause serious health problems, according to Johns Hopkins Hospital lung expert Dr. Panagis Galiatsatos, including serious lung infections and in rare cases, even death.
“A good inhalation of dust could be life threatening depending on someone’s asthma exacerbation,” Galiatsatos said.
Dust can enter our airways with each breath we take or dusty object we touch, but how much is too much?
Here's what you should know about dust – and how to keep it out of your home and body.
What is in dust?
Dust contains mostly skin cells, bits of bugs, your hair, bits of your clothing on the base level. Under the base level is chemicals that have escaped from household products, according to Miriam Donald, a professor at the University of Toronto.
Diamond has conducted more than 10 studies on dust and said it can accumulate chemicals and contaminants’ from inside homes.
“We're exposed to the dust when we breath and when we touch things,” Diamond said. She said small children, especially crawling babies, may be interacting with dust particles more than adults.
The chemicals inside stain repellants and lead-based-paint used in homes and apartments can be found in some dust particles which can cause more subtle physical effects.
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“We often don’t know the full ingredients of products and don’t know what can be toxic in them,” Diamond said.
Dust also contains allergens that can cause asthmatic symptoms.
“People who suffer from allergies need to keep a clean environment because,” Diamond said. “I can’t even imagine if someone didn’t dust for a year.”
Diamond said the dust accumulated for over a year can contain all sorts of bacteria and microbes. She also said our bodies aren't made to breathe in a lot of dusts and can be hard on your lungs.
“We know it's not good for people's health," she said.
What could happen to my health?
Galiatsatos, a physician at Johns Hopkins Hospital, said the majority of dust doesn’t do much to humans, but smaller particles can get into the lungs and cause irritation.
“You will cough it out or sneeze them out,” Galiatsatos said.
Dust’s first interaction is with the airway and most people will breathe it back out or force it out.
“For some people, that response can become very exaggerated and could cause shortness of breath while attempting to get it out,” Galiatsatos said. “That’s on par with asthma.”
Mold can also hang out in dust, which can cause allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis, an allergic or hypersensitive reaction to a fungus known as Aspergillus fumigatus, in rare cases.
“Dust carries a variety of products that can cause odd infections,” Galiatsatos said.
How often and what's the best way to dust?
The best way to dust is by using a wet mop, Donald said. Dry wiping dust could cause the particles to spread more and be inhaled.
How much you dust is solely based on how dusty your home is.
“New homes tend to be less dusty than old homes,” Diamond said. “Do you have dogs or cats, a whole bunch of kids?”
Galiatsatos advises for people to avoid their triggers and to be mindful of dust management because it could affect someone coming into your home. He also suggests wearing a face mask when dusting.
Diamond’s last bit of advice is to "be careful when you’re cleaning your ceiling fan so you don’t fall.”
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Follow reporter Asha Gilbert @,Coastalasha. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: How often should I dust? Not cleaning could cause lung infections