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Answering That Age-old Lament: Where Does All This Dust Come From?

Date:
October 29, 2009
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
Where does dust come from? Scientists are reporting a surprising answer to that question, which has puzzled and perplexed generations of men and women confronted with layers of dust on furniture and floors. Most of indoor dust comes from outdoors.

Dust on an old home furnace filter. Where does it come from? Scientists in Arizona are reporting a surprising answer to that question, which has puzzled and perplexed generations of men and women. Most of indoor dust comes from outdoors.
Credit: iStockphoto

Where does it come from? Scientists in Arizona are reporting a surprising answer to that question, which has puzzled and perplexed generations of men and women confronted with layers of dust on furniture and floors. Most of indoor dust comes from outdoors.

In the study, David Layton and Paloma Beamer point out that household dust consists of a potpourri that includes dead skin shed by people, fibers from carpets and upholstered furniture, and tracked-in soil and airborne particles blown in from outdoors. It can include lead, arsenic and other potentially harmful substances that migrate indoors from outside air and soil. That can be a special concern for children, who consume those substances by putting dust-contaminated toys and other objects into their mouths.

The scientists describe development and use on homes in the Midwest of a computer model that can track distribution of contaminated soil and airborne particulates into residences from outdoors. They found that over 60 percent of house dust originates outdoors. They estimated that nearly 60 percent of the arsenic in floor dust could come from arsenic in the surrounding air, with the remainder derived from tracked-in soil. The researchers point out the model could be used to evaluate methods for reducing contaminants in dust and associated human exposures.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Layton et al. Migration of Contaminated Soil and Airborne Particulates to Indoor Dust. Environmental Science & Technology, 2009; 090924111235017 DOI: 10.1021/es9003735

Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Answering That Age-old Lament: Where Does All This Dust Come From?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 October 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091028114023.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2009, October 29). Answering That Age-old Lament: Where Does All This Dust Come From?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091028114023.htm
American Chemical Society. "Answering That Age-old Lament: Where Does All This Dust Come From?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091028114023.htm (accessed August 29, 2014).

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