Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

The skinny on how shed skin reduces indoor air pollution

Date:
May 11, 2011
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
The flakes of skin that people shed at the rate of 500 million cells every day are not just a nuisance -- the source of dandruff, for instance, and a major contributor to house dust. A new study concludes that oil in those skin cells makes a small contribution to reducing indoor air pollution.

Flakes of skin that people shed at the rate of 500 million cells every day are not just a nuisance -- the source of dandruff, for instance, and a major contributor to house dust. They actually can be beneficial.
Credit: gunnar3000 / Fotolia

Flakes of skin that people shed at the rate of 500 million cells every day are not just a nuisance -- the source of dandruff, for instance, and a major contributor to house dust. They actually can be beneficial. A new study, published in the American Chemical Society's journal, Environmental Science & Technology, concludes that oil in those skin cells makes a small contribution to reducing indoor air pollution.

Charles Weschler and colleagues explain that humans shed their entire outer layer of skin every 2-4 weeks at the rate of 0.001 -- 0.003 ounces of skin flakes every hour. Those flakes contain skin oils, including cholesterol and "squalene," and are a major constituent of the dust that accumulates on tables and other surfaces in homes and offices. Past research suggested that squalene from passengers' skin had a role in reducing levels of ozone -- a pollutant that can irritate the eyes, nose and throat and worsen asthma symptoms -- from the air in airplane cabins.

"It is only within the last five years that we've grown to appreciate the central role that squalene (from human skin oil) plays in oxidation chemistry within indoor environments," the report notes. "More than half of the ozone removal measured in a simulated aircraft cabin was found to be a consequence of ozone reacting with exposed, skin, hair, and clothing of passengers."

In the new study, the scientists set out to make the first extensive determinations of cholesterol and squalene in dust in homes and daycare centers and to figure out how these substances affect indoor air pollution. The scientists analyzed dust samples collected from 500 bedrooms of children aged 3-5 and the 151 daycare centers the children attended in the city of Odense, Denmark and its surroundings as part of the Danish Indoor Environment and Children's Health Study.

Among their findings: "Squalene in settled dust … contributes, in a small way, to the indoor removal of ozone," reducing indoor ozone levels roughly 2 to 15 percent.

The authors acknowledge funding from the Villum Foundation and FORMAS.


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. Charles J. Weschler. Characterization techniques applied to indoor dust. Environmental Science & Technology, 1978; 12 (8): 923 DOI: 10.1021/es60144a011

Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "The skinny on how shed skin reduces indoor air pollution." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 May 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110509114034.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2011, May 11). The skinny on how shed skin reduces indoor air pollution. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110509114034.htm
American Chemical Society. "The skinny on how shed skin reduces indoor air pollution." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110509114034.htm (accessed September 1, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Monday, September 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Iceland Lowers Aviation Alert on Volcano

Iceland Lowers Aviation Alert on Volcano

AFP (Sep. 1, 2014) Iceland has lowered its aviation alert on its largest volcano after a fresh eruption on a nearby lava field prompted authorities to enforce a flight ban for several hours. Duration: 01:07 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lightning Hurts 3 on NYC Beach

Lightning Hurts 3 on NYC Beach

AP (Sep. 1, 2014) A lightning strike injured three people on a New York City beach on Sunday. The storms also delayed flights and interrupted play at the US Open tennis tournament. (Sept. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thailand Totters Towards Waste Crisis

Thailand Totters Towards Waste Crisis

AFP (Sep. 1, 2014) Fears are mounting in Bangkok that poor planning and lax law enforcement are tipping Thailand towards a waste crisis. Duration: 01:21 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Melting Ice Shelves Drive Rapid Antarctic Sea Level Rise

Melting Ice Shelves Drive Rapid Antarctic Sea Level Rise

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) A study of almost 20 years' worth of satellite images shows Antarctic sea levels are on the rise as ice shelves continue to melt. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins