What are the Effects of Dust on the Lungs?

Here’s an interesting article from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety on what effects dust have on the lungs. Enjoy the read!

What are the lungs?
The lungs are the organs of breathing: they are responsible bringing oxygen from the atmosphere into the body through a series of branching air tubes (Figure 1 below) and exchanging it for carbon dioxide that is released back into the atmosphere.

What are the Effects of Dust on the Lungs?
The lungs are constantly exposed to danger from the dusts we breathe. Luckily, the lungs have another function – they have defense mechanisms that protects them by removing dust particles from the respiratory system. For example, during a lifetime, a coal miner may inhale 1,000 g of dust into his lungs. When doctors examine the lungs of a miner after death, they find no more than 40 g of dust. Such a relatively small residue illustrates the importance of the lungs’ defenses, and certainly suggests that they are quite effective. On the other hand, even though the lungs can clear themselves, excessive inhalation of dust may result in disease.

What happens when we breathe in dust?
The lungs are protected by a series of defense mechanisms in different regions of the respiratory tract.

When a person breathes in, particles suspended in the air enter the nose, but not all of them reach the lungs. The nose is an efficient filter. Most large particles are stopped in it, until they are removed mechanically by blowing the nose or sneezing.

Some of the smaller particles succeed in passing through the nose to reach the windpipe and the dividing air tubes that lead to the lungs.

These tubes are called bronchi and bronchioles. All of these airways are lined by cells. The mucus they produce catches most of the dust particles. Tiny hairs called cilia, covering the walls of the air tubes, move the mucus upward and out into the throat, where it is either coughed up and spat out, or swallowed.

The air reaches the tiny air sacs (alveoli) in the inner part of the lungs with any dust particles that avoided the defenses in the nose and airways. The air sacs are very important because through them, the body receives oxygen and releases carbon dioxide.

Dust that reaches the sacs and the lower part of the airways where there are no cilia is attacked by special cells called macrophages. These are extremely important for the defense of the lungs. They keep the air sacs clean. Macrophages virtually swallow the particles. Then the macrophages, in a way which is not well understood, reach the part of the airways that is covered by cilia. The wavelike motions of the cilia move the macrophages which contain dust to the throat, where they are spat out or swallowed.

Besides macrophages, the lungs have another system for the removal of dust. The lungs can react to the presence of germ-bearing particles by producing certain proteins. These proteins attach to particles to neutralize them.

Dusts are tiny solid particles scattered or suspended in the air. The particles are “inorganic” or “organic,” depending on the source of the dust. Inorganic dusts can come from grinding metals or minerals such as rock or soil. Examples of inorganic dusts are silica, asbestos, and coal.

Organic dusts originate from plants or animals. An example of organic dust is dust that arises from handling grain. These dusts can contain a great number of substances. Aside from the vegetable or animal component, organic dusts may also contain fungi or microbes and the toxic substances given off by microbes. For example, histoplasmosis, psittacosis and Q Fever are diseases that people can get if they breathe in organic that are infected with a certain microorganisms.

Dusts can also come from organic chemicals (e.g., dyes, pesticides). However, in this OSH Answers document, we are only considering dust particles that cause fibrosis or allergic reactions in the lungs. We are not including chemical dusts that cause cancer or acute toxic effects, for example.

What are the reactions of the lungs to dust?
The way the respiratory system responds to inhaled particles depends, to a great extent, on where the particle settles. For example, irritant dust that settles in the nose may lead to rhinitis, an inflammation of the mucous membrane. If the particle attacks the larger air passages, inflammation of the trachea (tracheitis) or the bronchi (bronchitis) may be seen.

The most significant reactions of the lung occur in the deepest parts of this organ.

Particles that evade elimination in the nose or throat tend to settle in the sacs or close to the end of the airways. But if the amount of dust is large, the macrophage system may fail. Dust particles and dust-containing macrophages collect in the lung tissues, causing injury to the lungs.

The amount of dust and the kinds of particles involved influence how serious the lung injury will be. For example, after the macrophages swallow silica particles, they die and give off toxic substances. These substances cause fibrous or scar tissue to form. This tissue is the body’s normal way of repairing itself. However, in the case of crystalline silica so much fibrous tissue and scarring form that lung function can be impair. The general name for this condition for fibrous tissue formation and scarring is fibrosis. The particles which cause fibrosis or scarring are called fibrogenic. When fibrosis is caused by crystalline silica, the condition is called silicosis.

What are the factors influencing the effects of dust?
Several factors influence the effects of inhaled particles. Among these are some properties of the particles themselves. Particle size is usually the critical factor that determines where in the respiratory tract that particle may be deposited. Chemical composition is important because some substances, when in particle form, can destroy the cilia that the lungs use for the removal of particles. Cigarette smoking may alter the ability of the lungs to clear themselves.

Characteristics of the person inhaling particles can also influence the effects of dust. Breathing rates and smoking are among the most important. The settling of dust in the lungs increases with the length of time the breath is held and how deeply the breath is taken. Whether breathing is through the nose or mouth is also important.

What are the diseases of dusty operations?
The classic diseases of “dusty” occupations may be on the decline, but they have not yet disappeared. Workers today still suffer from a variety of illnesses caused by dust they inhale in their work environments. For practical purposes, we limit this document to dust. We do not take into consideration combined effects arising from exposures to dusts, gases, fumes and vapours.

Some types of lung diseases caused by the inhalation of dust are called by the general term “pneumoconiosis.” This simply means “dusty lung.”

The changes which occur in the lungs vary with the different types of dust. For example, the injury caused by exposure to silica is marked by islands of scar tissue surrounded by normal lung tissue. Because the injured areas are separated from each other by normal tissue, the lungs do not completely lose their elasticity. In contrast, the scar tissue produced following exposure to asbestos, beryllium and cobalt completely covers the surfaces of the deep airways. The lungs become stiff and lose their elasticity.

Not all inhaled particles produce scar tissue. Dusts such as carbon and iron remain within macrophages until they die normally. The released particles are then taken in again by other macrophages. If the amount of dust overwhelms the macrophages, dust particles coat the inner walls of the airways without causing scarring, but only producing mild damage, or maybe none at all.

Some particles dissolve in the bloodstream. The blood then carries the substance around the body where it may affect the brain, kidneys and other organs.

The table below summarizes some of the most common lung diseases caused by dust.

The OSH Answers document Extrinsic Allergic Alveolitis has more information about diseases from exposure to organic dusts.

Some types of pneumoconiosis according to dust and lung reaction
Inorganic Dust Type of Disease Lung Reaction
Asbestos Asbestosis Fibrosis
Silica (Quartz) Silicosis Fibrosis
Coal Coal Pneumoconiosis Fibrosis
Beryllium Beryllium Disease Fibrosis
Tungsten Carbide Hard Metal Disease Fibrosis
Iron Siderosis No Fibrosis
Tin Stannosis No Fibrosis
Barium Baritosis No Fibrosis
Organic Dust  
Mouldy hay, straw and grain Farmer’s lung Fibrosis
Droppings and feathers Bird fancier’s lung Fibrosis
Mouldy sugar can Bagassosis Fibrosis
Compose dust Mushroom worker’s lung No Fibrosis
Dust or mist Humidifier fever No Fibrosis
Dust of heat-treated sludge Sewage sludge disease No Fibrosis
Mould dust Cheese washers’ lung No Fibrosis
Dust of dander, hair particles and dried urine of rats Animal handlers’ lung No Fibrosis


How can we protect the lungs from dust?
To avoid respiratory or other problems caused by exposure to dust, hazardous substances should be substituted with non-hazardous substances. Where substitution is not possible, other engineering control methods should be introduced. Some examples are:

Use of wet processes
Enclosure of dust-producing processes under negative air pressure (slight vacuum compared to the air pressure outside the enclosure)
Exhausting air containing dust through a collection system before emission to the atmosphere
Use of vacuums instead of brooms
Good housekeeping
Efficient storage and transport
Controlled disposal of dangerous waste
Use of personal protective equipment may be vital, but it should nevertheless be the last resort of protection. Personal protective equipment should not be a substitute for proper dust control and should be used only where dust control methods are not yet effective or are inadequate. Workers themselves, through education, must understand the need to avoid the risks of dust.

A respiratory protection program is discussed in OSH Answers – Personal Protective Equipment under Respirator Selection and Respirator Care.

Enjoy your day further!  Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.


Dust helps regulate Sierra Nevada ecosystems

Dust helps regulate Sierra Nevada ecosystems, study finds

Article sourced from Phys Org

“Collecting dust” isn’t usually considered a good thing.

But dust from as near as the Central Valley and as far away as the Gobi Desert in Asia provides more nutrients—especially critical phosphorus—than previously thought to sustain the vegetation in the Sierra Nevada, a team of scientists has found.

Dust helps regulate Sierra Nevada ecosystems
A new study released today (March 28) in the journal Nature Communications indicates it’s important to understand how dust helps vegetation thrive, especially in light of the changing climate and land-use intensification.
It is well known that dust is an important source of nutrients for highly weathered and old landscapes like the island of Kauai, where intensive chemical weathering and leaching have depleted the underlying bedrock of life-sustaining elements, including phosphorus, potassium, calcium and magnesium, UC Merced Professor Stephen Hart and his collaborators wrote.
Because of the mostly phosphorus-poor granitic bedrock, the Sierra Nevada is considered a phosphorus-limited ecosystem, but the researchers believe their findings will hold true for other mountainous ecosystems around the world and have implications for predicting forest response to changes in climate and land use.
Nutrients are generally supplied to plants as bedrock is converted to soil. Nutrients, to a large degree, regulate the distribution of life across Earth’s surface, so understanding the relative importance of different nutrient sources—including bedrock and dust—is a fundamental question in ecology, biogeochemistry and geobiology.
But the researchers were surprised to find that the dust is important even in actively eroding, relatively young mountain ecosystems like the Sierra Nevada. “Dust provides important inputs of the plant-growth limiting nutrient phosphorus to western Sierra Nevada ecosystems,” Hart said. “These dust inputs may be critical for maintaining plant productivity in these geologically young montane environments, and dust inputs may increase as land use in the Central Valley intensifies and as the climate warms in the future.”
An interdisciplinary and inter-institutional collaboration involving isotope geochemists, a geomorphologist, ecosystem ecologists and microbial ecologists from UC Merced, the University of Michigan, the University of Wyoming and UC Riverside sought to quantify the importance of transoceanic and regional dust as a nutrient source to Sierra Nevada ecosystems.
The researchers examined samples from four sites in the Southern Sierra Critical Zone Observatory (SSCZO) in the Sierra National Forest, from about 1,300 feet to 8,800 feet elevations, and compared dust nutrient inputs to rates of soil formation based on modern and millennial rates of soil loss.
The research team is also studying microbial “hitchhikers” that are riding on the dust particles.
“I think we’ll also be able to use the microbial DNA to pinpoint where the dust comes from with a similar or higher fidelity than using radiogenic isotopes in the dust,” said Hart, who’s with the School of Natural Sciences and the Sierra Nevada Research Institute.
UC Merced graduate student Nicholas Dove, who volunteered to be part of the project for the experience of working with this diverse group, said he was tasked with collecting dust and helping write the paper by offering comments and critiques.
“Harvesting dust for scientific purposes is surprisingly rudimentary. We use many household supplies: Wooden posts hold up bundt pans filled with marbles, and the dust settles in the marble matrix,” he explained. “We collect this dust by ‘washing’ the marbles with sterile water. The water is filtered and, voila, you have your dust.”
Dove’s dissertation is focused on the effects of fire suppression and altered wildfire regimes on microbial communities and biogeochemical processes in mixed-conifer forests of the Sierra Nevada, but he jumped at the chance for more work in the SSCZO.
“Working in the SSCZO has allowed me to meet and work with other researchers outside from around the country,” he said.
The SSCZO, led by UC Merced Professor Roger Bales, is part of a network of 10 critical zone observatories established by the National Science Foundation, and is a collaborative effort with the Pacific Southwest Research Station of the Forest Service.
“The CZO network was set up to carry out research such as this, which integrates physical, geochemical and biological measurements from the subsurface through the land surface, giving us an unprecedented predictive ability to improve management of these rapidly changing forested landscapes,” Bales said.
“This research reveals that the transport of dust in the atmosphere is important for the ecological health of many parts of our planet,” said Richard Yuretich, program director for the NSF’s Critical Zone Observatory Network. “Complex cycles and feedbacks regulate conditions at the surface of the Earth. This study adds a significant piece to our knowledge of how the Earth works and what we can do to keep it functioning properly.”
The Nature Communications paper is called “Dust outpaces bedrock in nutrient supply to montane forest ecosystems.”

Trust you enjoyed this article. Regards, Chris.

Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

Training Course

Please note that the training course for Pretoria is scheduled for  30, 31 May, 1 June 2017.

Avenues Guesthouse
881 Wekker Road
Moreleta Park
Pretoria East, South Africa

Contact Person for accommodation bookings: (Optional – Any accommodation can be used but this is the venue for the training)

Michelle Botha

Mobile no:082 826 9889

Email: michelle@avenuesguesthouse.co.za

Website: www.avenuesguesthouse.co.za

Please book accommodation if required independently at this venue or an alternative venue.  The training will take place at this venue.

Please diarise those dates if you can make it, and RSVP by  25th of May 2017.

If you would like to attend or to send a representative, then please email chris@dustwatch.com or call on 021 789 0847 / 082 875 0209 to reserve a place.

The costs for the training – R2800 per person per day, and the course runs for three days.  You can also select which days to attend.

Below is a brief outline of the course, although the course will be customised to meet the specific needs of those attending.

The course has three main topics that will be covered over the three days.

  1. Fallout dust monitoring theory (Day 1)
  2. Fallout dust monitoring practical (Day 2)
  3. Fallout Dust Monitoring Reporting (Day 3)

The fallout dust monitoring section of the course aims to train the trainees so that they are able to do the following.

  1. Understand what fallout dust monitoring achieves and what is collected.  This will include discussion around the legislative requirements and will also address the possible influences of dust sensitive areas like communities, hospitals, farms, and recreational areas.
  2. Prepare buckets, transport buckets and change buckets in the Fallout Dust Monitoring units.
  3. Filter the bucket contents using a filter bench and using the related equipment used in the filtering process.  This includes advice on how to minimise the filtering time and what can be done when samples are taking very long to filter.
  4. Understand how to calculate the fallout dust monitoring results in mg/m2/day and how to interpret these results.
  5. Report writing and presentation options for the results will also be discussed.
  6. Some computer training may also be included in the course if required.
  7. Access to our software for processing of the fallout dust data will also be included after the course.  This can be used to simplify the data collection and report writing and will also provide a database of the fallout dust levels over the years.

The course will be presented by Christopher Loans who is a Professional Chemical Engineer with a Masters in Occupational Hygiene focused on the Mining Industry.

Please do not hesitate to contact me regarding any queries.

Chris Loans
DustWatch CC – Precipitant Dust Monitoring

082 875 0209 or 021 789 0847 (Chris)
083 308 4764 (Gerry)
0866 181 421 (Fax)


Training course

Studying interstellar dust from a balloon

In just a few days, the Pilot astrophysics experiment will be launched under a stratospheric balloon from Alice Springs in central Australia. Its aim is to observe the polarized emission of dust particles found in the interstellar medium of our galaxy and nearby galaxies.

With a mass approaching one metric ton, Pilot uses the largest balloons ever launched by CNES, the French national space agency. The experiment was developed by the Research Institute in Astrophysics and Planetology (CNRS/CNES/Paul Sabatier University), the Institute of Space Astrophysics (CNRS/Paris-Sud University), and the Institute of Research into the Fundamental Laws of the Universe (CEA-Irfu).

The first Pilot flight was launched from Canada in September 2015; the forthcoming flight will thus be its first flight in the southern hemisphere sky, which contains more features of interest for Pilot than the northern hemisphere.

Studying interstellar dust from a balloon

The emission of dust particles in the interstellar medium of our galaxy and nearby galaxies is slightly polarized, as the particles are elongated and aligned with the magnetic field that prevails in the interstellar medium. The measurements obtained by Pilot will help scientists understand the nature of dust particles and why they are aligned in this way. The measurements will also be used to map the geometry of the magnetic field, which plays an important part in contracting the gas in the interstellar medium, a phenomenon that leads to the formation of new stars.
This emission is also an obstacle for experiments that seek to accurately measure the polarization of the cosmic microwave background, and Pilot’s measurements will shed more light on it, and thus improve the interpretation of the results obtained with this type of experiment.
The Pilot experiment will observe this emission in the far infrared region. It is equipped with 2,048 individual detectors, cooled to a temperature of 300 millikelvin, i.e. close to absolute zero. Polarization is measured using a rotating blade and a polarizer that separates two orthogonal polarizations on the two focal planes of the experiment. Apart from the primary mirror of the telescope, all the optics is maintained at a cryogenic temperature (2 kelvins or -271°C) inside a cryostat, cooled with liquid helium, to limit the instrument’s own emission.
The experiment was conceived and built by CNRS scientists and engineers at the Research Institute in Astrophysics and Planetology (CNRS/CNES/Paul Sabatier University) and IAS (CNRS/Paris-Sud University), with major contributions from the CNES Balloon Division in Toulouse, the ESA, the CEA (Saclay), which developed the focal plane and its electronics, La Sapienza University in Rome (Italy), and Cardiff University (United Kingdom). The whole project is backed by CNRS laboratories and CNES funding.
In a few days, Pilot will be launched by CNES as part of a campaign comprising three flights with different gondolas from Alice Springs, in central Australia. Pilot weighs nearly one metric ton and will have to climb to an altitude of nearly 40 km. It therefore requires the use of an open stratospheric balloon, approximately 100 m in diameter (the largest open balloon ever launched by CNES), and a payload chain as tall as the Eiffel Tower.
The flight will take place during one of the two annual reversals of stratospheric winds, which is a prerequisite for any hope of performing observations for more than 30 hours at the ceiling altitude. Although Pilot has already been launched in the past – its first flight was from Canada in September 2015 – this new flight will be in the southern hemisphere, thus providing an opportunity to observe outstanding astrophysical sources, such as the Magellanic Clouds, satellite galaxies of our own galaxy, or inner regions of the Milky Way, that cannot be observed from the northern hemisphere.

Thanks to Phys Org for this article on studying interstellar dust from a balloon.

Another great article I found is also from Phys Org……….

NASA team explores using LISA Pathfinder as ‘comet crumb’ detector

LISA Pathfinder, a mission led by ESA (the European Space Agency) with contributions from NASA, has successfully demonstrated critical technologies needed to build a space-based observatory for detecting ripples in space-time called gravitational waves. Now a team of NASA scientists hopes to take advantage of the spacecraft’s record-breaking sensitivity to map out the distribution of tiny dust particles shed by asteroids and comets far from Earth.

Most of these particles have masses measured in micrograms, similar to a small grain of sand. But with speeds greater than 22,000 mph (36,000 kph), even micrometeoroids pack a punch. The new measurements could help refine dust models used by researchers in a variety of studies, from understanding the physics of planet formation to estimating impact risks for current and future spacecraft.
“We’ve shown we have a novel technique and that it works,” said Ira Thorpe, who leads the team at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “The next step is to carefully apply this technique to our whole data set and interpret the results.”
The mission’s primary goal was to test how well the spacecraft could fly in formation with an identical pair of 1.8-inch (46 millimeter) gold-platinum cubes floating inside it. The cubes are test masses intended to be in free fall and responding only to gravity.
The spacecraft serves as a shield to protect the test masses from external forces. When LISA Pathfinder responds to pressure from sunlight and microscopic dust impacts, the spacecraft automatically compensates by firing tiny bursts from its micronewton thrusters to prevent the test masses from being disturbed.
Scientists call this drag-free flight. In its first two months of operations in early 2016, LISA Pathfinder demonstrated the process with a precision some five times better than its mission requirements, making it the most sensitive instrument for measuring acceleration yet flown. It has now reached the sensitivity level needed to build a full multi-spacecraft gravitational wave observatory.
“Every time microscopic dust strikes LISA Pathfinder, its thrusters null out the small amount of momentum transferred to the spacecraft,” said Goddard co-investigator Diego Janches. “We can turn that around and use the thruster firings to learn more about the impacting particles. One team’s noise becomes another team’s data.”
Much of what we know about interplanetary dust is limited to Earth’s neighborhood, thanks in large part to NASA’s Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF). Launched into Earth orbit by the space shuttle Challenger in April 1984 and retrieved by the space shuttle Columbia in January 1990, LDEF hosted dozens of experiments, many of which were designed to better understand the meteoroid and orbital debris environment.
The different compositions, orbits and histories of different asteroids and comets naturally produce dust with a range of masses and velocities. Scientists suspect the smallest and slowest particles are enhanced in Earth’s neighborhood, so the LDEF results are not representative of the wider solar system.

“Small, slow particles near a planet are most susceptible to the planet’s gravitational pull, which we call gravitational focusing,” Janches said. This means the micrometeoroid flux near Earth should be much higher than that experienced by LISA Pathfinder, located about 930,000 miles (1.5 million kilometers) closer to the sun.
To find the impacts, Tyson Littenberg at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, adapted an algorithm he originally developed to search for gravitational waves in data from the ground-based detectors of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO), located in Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington. In fact, it was one of many algorithms that played a role in the discovery of gravitational waves by LIGO, announced in February 2016.
“The way it works is that we come up with a guess of what the signal might look like, then study how LIGO or LISA Pathfinder would react if this guess were true,” Littenberg explained. “For LIGO, we’re guessing about the waveform, the peaks and valleys of the gravitational wave. For LISA Pathfinder, we’re guessing about an impact.”
To map out the probability of likely sources, the team generates millions of different scenarios describing what the source might be and compares them to what the spacecraft actually detects.
In response to an impact, LISA Pathfinder fires its thrusters to counteract both the minute “push” from the strike and any change in the spacecraft’s spin. Together, these quantities allow the researchers to determine the impact’s location on the spacecraft and reconstruct the micrometeoroid’s original trajectory. This may allow the team to identify individual debris streams and perhaps relate them to known asteroids and comets.
“This is a very nice collaboration,” said Paul McNamara, the LISA Pathfinder project scientist at ESA’s Directorate of Science in Noordwijk, the Netherlands. “This is data we use for doing our science measurements, and as an offshoot of that, Ira and his team can tell us about microparticles hitting the spacecraft.”
Its distant location, sensitivity to low-mass particles, and ability to measure the size and direction of impacting particles make LISA Pathfinder a unique instrument for studying the population of micrometeoroids in the inner solar system. But it’s only the beginning.
“This is a proof of concept, but we’d hope to repeat this technique with a full gravitational wave observatory that ESA and NASA are currently studying for the future,” said Thorpe. “With multiple spacecraft in different orbits and a much longer observing time, the quality of the data should really improve.”
LISA Pathfinder is managed by ESA and includes contributions from NASA Goddard and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The mission launched on Dec. 3, 2015, and began orbiting a point called Earth-sun L1, roughly 930,000 miles (1.5 million km) from Earth in the sun’s direction, in late January 2016.
LISA stands for Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, a space-based gravitational wave observatory concept that has been studied in great detail by both NASA and ESA. It is a concept being explored for the third large mission of ESA’s Cosmic Vision Plan, which seeks to launch a gravitational wave observatory in 2034.

Hope you enjoyed the read.  Have a great day further!

Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

Toxic Chemicals

Here is a further article on dust and chemicals that are found in your home that are potentially harmful.  I hope you find it informative.

Toxic chemicals are hiding in your house dust

When was the last time you dusted your house?

Your answer could reveal a lot about your home habits, but the findings of a new study might have everyone upping their game — and potentially keeping wet wipes and hand sanitizer nearby at all times.
Researchers at George Washington University say 45 toxic chemicals are found commonly in your house dust, with 10 of them lurking in 90% of homes across the country.
“We wanted to identify which chemicals were present at the highest exposure in homes,” said Dr. Ami Zota, an assistant professor of environmental occupational health who led the study. “Some chemicals were in virtually every dust sample.”
To reveal which potential toxins we’re being exposed to in the comfort of our own homes, Zota’s team analyzed all studies that have sampled indoor environments in the United States since 2000. They looked for the presence of potentially toxic chemicals and divided them into five classes of chemicals, two of which were found to be more common than the rest: phthalates and flame retardants.
“Many of the top 10 fall into these two categories,” Zota said.
But when factoring in the wide range of chemicals we’re exposed to, small amounts can add up, she stressed.

Lurking in the dust

The chemicals found in dust samples came from a range of things typically found inside your home, including vinyl products — such as flooring — cosmetics, baby products, furniture and nail polish.
To understand how these chemicals are entering your home, it helps to understand where they are used. Phthalates make plastic softer and more flexible, so they tend to be found in vinyl (PVC) materials such as flooring, blinds and food packaging. Flame retardants help products meet flammability standards that are built into building codes, insurance requirements and fire regulations.
The other three classes of chemicals found in dust samples included environmental phenols, usually used as preservatives in personal care products like shampoo; fluorinated chemicals, used as stain- and water-repellent treatments for upholstery, carpets and clothes and in nonstick pans; and fragrances.
Only one chemical used in fragrances had been the topic of a study, meaning many more chemicals are likely to be present in dust with little insight into them, according to the researchers. “We know very little about the health hazard of these fragrances,” said Zota.
But the researchers note that it is about more than exposure. For example, phthalates were detected in the highest concentrations in the study, but the chemicals found in flame retardants had the “highest estimated intake,” meaning they are more likely to enter the body.
“You can breathe it in and can absorb into your skin,” Zota said. “These chemicals are not bound to the products, so they can migrate out.”

A risk to child development

One of the biggest concerns underlying the presence of these chemicals hiding in house dust is the fact that children are most likely to inhale or ingest them as they crawl around, touching things and inevitably placing their hands in their mouths multiple times a day.
“Environmental insults during early development can have long-lasting adverse health effects that persist across the lifespan,” Zota said. Phthalate exposure in children “can increase risk of respiratory, behavioral and neurodevelopmental problems.”
Phthalates are also known to disrupt hormones inside the body, meaning they could cause reproductive problems.
“We know from lead that exposures are not acceptable,” said Dr. Asa Bradman, associate director for exposure assessment at the Center for Environmental Research and Child’s Health at the University of California, Berkeley, who was not involved in the new study.
“There’s a strong argument to reduce exposure to children whose brains are changing and bodies are developing.”
As for the study findings, Bradman noted that the reason phthalates were found to be most common in house dust was probably because most studies have been done on this class of chemicals.
“By compiling information in this way, there’s always the possibility of exposures that haven’t been studied yet,” Bradman said.

Preventing exposure

Some advice to prevent exposure, other than regularly dusting your home, is to veer away from the traditional feather duster and use a powerful vacuum with a HEPA filter to ensure that all dust particles are sucked up. Regular hand-washing — which has a multitude of benefits — will also reduce exposure to flame retardants found on the surfaces of furniture.
The Silent Spring Institute has created an app to help people understand more about their environmental exposures, aptly named Detox Me.
But both Zota and Bradman stress that there needs to be more research into the range of chemicals people are exposed to at home and changes at the policy level to reduce the number of chemicals entering people’s households, through bans, better regulation and improved underlying chemistry during production.
“There may be chemicals out there that we don’t know about, that we should know about,” said Bradman, whose own research looks into exposure risks, particularly among children. His studies have found phthalates to be common in child care practices in the United States.
“But we can also reformulate materials so that chemicals don’t just go into our bodies,” he added. “There may be ways to have better adhesion [of flame retardants to furnishings] so they don’t get into the environment.”
The issue is also not specific to the United States.
“These consumer product chemicals are widely used throughout the globe and have been detected in homes in the UK and other European countries,” Zota said, adding, “since the European Union has different chemical regulations than the US, the average levels for some of the chemicals may be different than those we found for US homes.”
Visit the CNN site and see what house plants can help to clear the air in your home!
Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

Toxic dust at home

Our homes hold a lot of dust and much of that can be harmful to our health.  Here are a few articles that you might find beneficial.

Toxic chemicals in household dust linked to cancer and infertility

Scientists find scores of harmful chemicals in indoor dust including phthalates linked to developmental problems in babies

Household dust harbours a cocktail of toxic chemicals that have been linked to an increased risk of a range of health hazards, from cancer to problems with fertility, researchers in the US have found.

The chemicals are shed from a host of common products, from flooring to electrical goods as well as beauty and cleaning products.

“We think our homes are a safe haven but unfortunately they are being polluted by toxic chemicals from all our products,” said Veena Singla, co-author of the study from the Natural Resources Defense Council in California.

The scientists cautioned that children were particularly vulnerable to the health effects of contaminated dust as they often play or crawl on the floor and frequently touch their mouths. “They end up having a lot more exposure to chemicals in dust and they are more vulnerable to toxic effects because their brains and bodies are still developing,” said Singla.

Writing in the Environmental Science and Technology journal, Singla and colleagues described how they analysed 26 peer-reviewed papers, as well as one unpublished dataset, from 1999 onwards to examine the chemical make-up of indoor dust. The studies covered a wide range of indoor environments, from homes to schools and gymnasiums across 14 states.

“What emerged was a rather disturbing picture of many different toxic chemicals from our products that are present in dust in the home and [are] contaminating the home,” said Singla.

While, perhaps confusingly, homes that are too clean have been linked to an increase in allergies and asthma in children, potentially due to a lack of exposure to various microbes, the presence of toxic chemicals in dust raises separate concerns.

The researchers highlighted 45 toxic chemicals in indoor dust, 10 of which were present in 90% or more of the dust samples – these included flame retardants, fragrances and phenols.

Among them is the flame retardant TDCIPP that is known to be cancer-causing and is frequently found in furniture foam, baby products and carpet padding, as is TPHP, another flame retardant in the top 10 list that can affect the reproductive and nervous systems.

“They are just a bunch of letters – a lot of people might not recognise what those chemicals are, or what they mean, but they are really a number of bad actor chemicals,” said Singla.

Other toxic substances found in almost all of the dust samples include chemicals known as phthalates that are often found in vinyl flooring, food packaging, personal care products and have been linked to developmental problems in babies, hormone disruption, and are also thought to affect the reproductive system.

While some chemicals on the list have been banned from use in childcare products, or are being more widely phased out, Singla says many remain widespread in the home. “Especially for building materials there is not as much turnover of a lot of those products, like flooring,” she said, adding: “Unfortunately even though some of these phthalates have been banned from kids products, they are not banned from other kinds of products.”

In a separate, unpublished, analysis, Singla compared the levels of chemicals found in household dust with soil screening levels used by the Environmental Protection Agency in the US. “What we found – and we were shocked by it actually – is that the dust levels exceed those EPA screening levels for a number of the chemicals and again it is the phthalates and flame retardant chemicals that are standing out as the bad offenders here,” said Singla.

But, she adds, there are steps that can be taken to reduce exposure to contaminated dust. As well as vacuuming floors, hands should be washed with plain soap and water before eating, while cleaning with a wet mop and dusting with a damp cloth can help to reduce household dust levels.

While a wider policy change on the use of toxic chemicals is needed, Singla added, consumers could also take action by making careful choices about the products they buy. “It is really important for companies and regulators to get the message that people care about this and want and need safer products for their families.”

Stuart Harrad, professor of environmental chemistry at the University of Birmingham, said the research backed up previous work on the hazards of indoor pollutants.

“This review of evidence for the presence of consumer chemicals in indoor dust from the US confirms the substantial evidence for the presence of the same chemicals in dust from UK cars, homes, and offices, as well as school and nursery classrooms,” he said. “This is pertinent as we and others believe the presence of these chemicals in consumer articles and dust leads to their presence in human milk and blood.”

Stephen Holgate, clinical professor of immunopharmacology at Southampton general hospital, described the research as important. He said though the study was US-based, the findings were also relevant in the UK.

The review, he added, showed “what we all have suspected – namely indoor exposure to household chemical and personal products accumulate in house dust, which serves as a Trojan horse when inhaled carrying these chemicals into the body”.

Holgate raised concerns over the findings that high levels of phthalates and replacement flame retardants appear to be ubiquitous, given their health impacts. Together with evidence from other studies, “there is an urgent need to consider the indoor environment as a crucial source of chemical pollutant exposure”, he said.

Source from The Guardian

Toxic Dust: The Dangerous Chemical Brew in Every Home

As I was frantically cleaning my apartment last month in preparation for a visit from my parents, I paused for a moment to stare at the dark smudge on the damp cloth I was dusting with. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that little dust smudge contains a whole universe of toxic chemicals—chemicals that pollute the globe and build up in wildlife and humans, that can cause cancer, or are linked to birth defects in babies.

Never, that is, until I collaborated on a new study to put together all the data we have on chemicals in U.S. indoor dust with scientists from George Washington University, Silent Spring Institute, Harvard University, and University of California–San Francisco. Dust is the common congregation place for all kinds of chemicals that migrate out of everyday products in our homes—flooring, furniture, personal care products, cleaning products, and myriad others. So our idea was that by looking at dust, as well as the individual chemicals in dust, we could reveal the bigger picture of chemical contamination in the home—just like individual dots in an Impressionist painting create a larger image. And what we found paints a disturbing picture of what’s really inside home sweet home across America.

The dust in U.S. homes is chock-full of hazardous chemicals from our products—phthalates, flame retardants, and other toxic chemicals are unwelcome visitors in each and every one of our homes. Even worse, the chemicals don’t stop there: They can waltz right into our bodies when we breathe contaminated air or dust, touch contaminated dust, and accidentally get dust in our mouths from our hands. These chemicals pose health hazards including cancer, hormone disruption, and toxicity to the reproductive system.

We looked at each chemical in household dust from three different angles: how much is in the dust, how much gets into us, and what the health hazards are. But no matter which way we looked at it, phthalate and flame-retardant chemicals stood out as top offenders. They’re found at higher levels, have higher estimated intakes for kids, and are linked to multiple health hazards.

Phthalates are used in numerous plastic and vinyl materials, as well as personal care products and cleaning products. Flame retardants are chemicals found in furniture, electronics, and building insulation. These products all shed phthalates and flame retardants into dust.

To better understand how risky these chemicals in dust might be, we completed an additional analysis separately from the published study. Unfortunately there are not standards established for chemicals in household dust, so we looked for something else we could compare to. Because exposure to dust is a lot like exposure to soil, we used soil-screening levels established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for sites contaminated with chemicals as a comparison. These soil-screening numbers reflect the levels at which a chemical might pose health risks to people, and thus exceedances require further investigation. The EPA calculates two different numbers, one for cancer health risks and another for non-cancer health risks, such as developmental or reproductive toxicity. Note that many chemicals in our study do not have soil-screening levels established, but we did the comparison for the ones that did.

The graphs show the average dust concentration we calculated in our study by pooling data from individual studies (circle), the highest (maximum) level of the chemical found in each individual study (triangle), and the EPA screening level (black line). Shockingly, the levels of some phthalates and flame retardants in U.S. house dust exceeded the EPA’s screening numbers (shown in red).

For the phthalate DEHP, average levels in dust exceeded EPA screening levels—for both cancer and non-cancer effects. DEHP is also ubiquitous in U.S. homes, as studies that tested for it found it in 100 percent of dust samples. This means that if an EPA site manager tested the dust in a typical living room, they would be concerned about the level of DEHP found there!

For the phthalate BBP and the flame retardants TDCIPP, TCIPP, and TCEP, the average level in dust does not exceed the soil-screening level (though it comes close for TDCIPP cancer risks). But as the “highest concentration in dust” data points show, levels in some homes are much higher than the average, sometimes by an order of magnitude or more.

Exceedance of the EPA screening levels for this portion of the population is a concern. Higher levels of phthalates or flame retardants in indoor dust may be linked to the presence of particular products (like vinyl flooring for phthalates or baby products for flame retardants) and/or particular building characteristics, like ventilation rate.

It’s also important to note that our comparison only considers the amount of chemical in dust in the home, but in reality, people’s exposures are almost certainly higher because we come into contact with these chemicals from many other sources, including the food we eat, products we use, and other places we spend time.

Products with these chemicals don’t belong in our homes; hazardous chemicals linked to adverse health effects should be removed and replaced with safer alternatives. With recent reforms to the federal Toxic Substances Control Act, the EPA finally has the opportunity to start protecting the public from toxic chemicals. We’re working hard to stand up to the chemical industry and ensure strong implementation of the new law.

In the meantime, there are a number of steps you can take to protect your families from toxic dust, including:

  • Remove dust from your hands. Wash your hands and your children’s hands frequently, and always before eating. Use plain soap and water, avoiding fragranced and antibacterial soaps.
  • Keep household dust to a minimum. Dust with a damp cloth, regularly go over floors with a wet mop, and use a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter.
  • Use the Silent Spring Detox Me app. This free smartphone app walks you through simple, research-based tips on how to reduce your exposure to potentially harmful chemicals where you live and work, and it keeps track of your progress.

And please take action now on phthalates. Urge the U.S. Food & Drug Administration and the Consumer Product Safety Commission to protect kids and families from the dangers of phthalates by banning these hazardous chemicals from food, toys, and other children’s products.

Article found at NRDC

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Snow and sand erosion explained

Snow and sand erosion explained

Scientists at EPFL and SLF describe with precision how snow and sand surfaces erode when exposed to wind. Their description can contribute to better predictions of dust emissions from deserts and snow transport in Antarctica, and can be adapted to other planets.

Wind and water transport a multitude of particles with them, leading to erosion or deposits, like dust emissions from the Saharan desert that can reach Europe and snow transport that can… block traffic.

Francesco Comola and Michael Lehning from EPFL and SLF accurately describe how wind flow affects a generic surface of non-homogeneous particles, like snow or sand, using a new theory that will one day help improve weather predictions. The results are now available in Vol. 44, No. 3 of Geophysical Research Letters.

Descriptions of wind or water transport already exist, but this is the first time that fundamental laws – Newton’s second law and energy conservation – are used to describe how particles are ejected from a bed of particles.

“It is a milestone since it is astonishing that the particle ejection process has never been described thus far by using the fundamental conservation laws,” says Lehning, “at least not for a wide range of sediments from heterogeneous sand to snow.”

The new theory is powerful enough so that they can statistically predict the number of particles ejected from the surface of the particle bed and lifted into the flow, even for varying particle sizes and varying material or flow properties.

The theory can be seen as a generalization of how billiard balls are scattered by the white ball during that first hit. But in many ways, the billiard table is a trivial case compared to beds of particles in nature. Instead of having a bed of only 15 billiard balls, the model can handle large numbers of particles and therefore be applied to vast areas on Earth or other planets. Instead of having only one white ball, there can be many incident particles. Instead of having billiard balls all of the same shape and size, the particles can be a mix of shapes and sizes like what we see in a handful of sand or snow. Instead of billiard balls that neither attract nor repulse each other, the particles can be sticky due to cohesive forces, like wet sand or humid snow.

The scientists believe that their new model will advance the study of dune and ripple development, both in arid and polar regions. It will also contribute to improve predictions of dust emissions from deserts and snow transport in Antarctica, whose effects extend from global health to weather and climate change. The model can also help find the cause of the intense sand transport activity observed on Mars, where the low density of the atmosphere would suggest that winds are not sufficiently strong to erode surface particles.

Read more at: PhysOrg

Clearing the polar air on cosmic dust

By developing several innovative experimental systems, EU-funded researchers now have a better indication of how much cosmic dust enters the Earth’s atmosphere and what impact it has.

Our solar system is a dust-filled place. As comets travel around their orbits and near the sun they begin to evaporate, leaving a trail of cosmic dust in their wake. These dust particles then enter the Earth’s atmosphere at a very high speed – anywhere in the range of 40 000 to 260 000 kph – where they collide with air molecules. This collision then causes flash heating and a subsequent melting and evaporation of the particles.

‘Sometimes this dust is visible as meteors, which is the case of dust particles greater than 2 mm,’ says CODITA Project Lead John Plane. ‘But most of the dust mass entering the atmosphere is so small that it can only be observed using specialised meteor radars.’ More so, Plane says that even though we know the dust is there, there is little indication of how much cosmic dust enters the Earth’s atmosphere – the range of estimates being between 3 and 300 tons a day – and what impact it has.

Clearing the air

The CODITA project is working to clear the air on this question. To accomplish this, the project launched two successful experimental systems to study the chemistry of the metallic molecules and ions produced from evaporating meteors. According to Plane, the first system detected the metallic molecules using a flow tube reactor, coupled to a time-of-flight mass spectrometer. The system uses pulsed laser radiation to softly ionise the metallic molecules. ‘For the first time we were able to successfully study the reactions of such metallic species as metal oxides and hydroxides, which have proved undetectable by other methods,’ says Plane.

The second experiment also used a flow tube, this time with a plasma source and coupled to a quadrupole mass spectrometer. ‘With this system we can study the dissociative recombination of metal-containing ions with electrons, which is the main route for neutralising ions found in the upper atmosphere,’ adds Plane.

A polar dust bin

These experiments – combined with an astronomical model of dust evolution in the solar system and high performance radar measurements – show that around 40 tons of cosmic dust enters Earth’s atmosphere on a daily basis.

But so what? Sure, our atmosphere may look like it needs a good dusting, but what’s the effect? According to the CODITA project, quite a lot: ‘The metals being injected into the atmosphere from evaporating dust particles are the direct or indirect cause of an array of phenomena,’ says Plane.

For example, the metals condense into very fine dust known as meteoric smoke, which plays a role in the formation of noctilucent clouds. These ice clouds occur in the polar regions at a height of 82 km during the summer months. ‘The clouds first appeared in 1886, and their increasing occurrence appears to be signal of climate change in the middle atmosphere, where water vapour is increasing and temperatures are falling because of increased levels of greenhouse gas – the reverse of the lower atmosphere,’ says Plane. ‘Meteoric smoke also affects polar stratospheric clouds that cause depletion of the ozone layer, and the deposition of cosmic iron in the Southern Ocean provides a critical nutrient for plankton, which draw down carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.’

Now, thanks to the work done by the CODITA project, it is possible to model the effects of cosmic dust on a consistent basis and from the outer solar system all the way to the Earth’s surface. But the project’s scope isn’t limited to Earth. To further understand the effects of cosmic dust on a planet’s atmosphere, the project also explores the impacts of meteoric smoke in other solar system bodies, including high temperature chemistry on Venus, the formation of noctilucent clouds on Mars, and production of benzene on Titan.
Read more at: PhysOrg

I trust you have enjoyed the read!  Have a great day!

Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

Dust Particles

Here are a couple of good articles on dust particles –

Airborne Dust Particles

Airborne dust is particle, or Particulate Matter (PM), pollution, and is one of the most significant air pollutants in Pima County. PM is made up of tiny solid particles or liquid droplets (a fraction of the thickness of a human hair) that float in the air we breathe. Because they are so small, you cannot see individual particles, but you can sometimes see the haze that is formed when millions of particles blur the spread of sunlight.

Hazards Of Airborne Dust Particles

Any type of earth-moving activity or combustion can produce excessive amounts of particles in the air, whether it be from businesses, industry, or individuals.

Examples of the types of dust found in the work environment include:

  • mineral dusts, such as those containing free crystalline silica (e.g., as quartz), coal and cement dusts;
  • metallic dusts, such as lead, cadmium, nickel, and beryllium dusts;
  • other chemical dusts, e.g., many bulk chemicals and pesticides:
  • organic and vegetable dusts, such as flour, wood, cotton and tea dusts, pollens;
  • biohazards, such as viable particles, moulds and spores

    Dusts are generated not only by work processes, but may also occur naturally, e.g., pollens, volcanic ashes, and sandstorms.

Sources: Where Does It Come From

Airborne Dust Particles can come from pretty much anywhere, any movement or activity can cause a large amount of excess particles in the air.

  • Disturbed vacant or open lands
  • Construction and mining activity
  • Landscaping maintenance activity
  • Industrial sources
  • Fires: fireplace, camp, forest

– Charcoal or wood-burning barbecues – Off-road vehicle activity
– Unpaved and paved roads, parking lots – Diesel exhaust

How Airborne Dust Particles Travel The Earth

Airborne Dust Particles can travel through various sources such as soil being lifted up by weather (an Aeolian process), volcanic eruptions, and pollution. Dust comes from arid and dry regions where high velocity winds are able to remove mostly silt-sized material. This includes ares where grazing, ploughing, vehicle use and other human activities have furthered the destabilized the land. Dust in the atmosphere is produced by saltation and sandblasting of sand-sized grains, and it is transported through the troposphere. The airborne dust is considered an aerosol and once in the atmosphere, it can produce strong local radiative forcing.


Airborne Dust Particles contaminates the biosphere through inhalation by humans and animals, and can also effect crops growing in an area with large amounts of dust particles. When inhaled, the fibers are deposited in air passages and on lung cells.

Impacts On Human Health

Particles can be so small that they pass through the nasal passage and travel to the deepest parts of the lungs and cause damage. To compound the problem, toxic and cancer-causing chemicals can attach themselves to PM yielding much more profound effects. The tiniest of particles can even pass into the bloodstream through the lungs. People most at risk from breathing particle pollution are children, the elderly, and people with respiratory or heart disease. Healthy people can be affected as well, especially outdoor exercisers. Effects of breathing PM for hours, days, or years include:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Respiratory pain
  • Diminished lung function
  • Weakened immune systems
  • Increased hospitalization

    pneumonia, asthma, and emphysema – Heart attacks and strokes
    – Premature death (1-8 years)

Prevention or Mitigation

There are many methods that may be used to control airborne dust.

  • Limit campfire and fireplace use
  • Avoid driving on silty or powdering soils
  • Prevent motor vehicle trespassing
  • Water at sufficient quantity, frequency, and depth before, during, and after activity (Construction and Mining)

Resourced from – Teach The Earth

Dust Particles Are Probably Quite Toxic

If you are like most Americans, you spend up to 90 percent of your day indoors. Whether you’re at home, in the car or at work, your hours are spent breathing indoor air.

Since your very life depends upon the air you breathe, it is vital you understand the risks associated with your indoor air quality and how to reduce the chemicals in your environment.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states the levels of indoor air pollution may be between two and five times higher inside your home or work than they are outside.1 Some indoor pollutants can be as much as 100 times more concentrated than outdoor levels.

The differences are related to the type of pollutants, the relative lack of air exchange in newer homes and the chemicals you may introduce to your home in your furniture, personal care, home and cleaning products. According to the EPA, poor air quality is one of the top public health risks today.

While these factors are important to your health, dust plays another important role in your air quality. Recent research has identified chemical pollutants residing in the dust floating in the air and in the dust bunnies under your furniture.

Dust Is More Than Dirt

Dust is anything that breaks down into small enough particles that it can be moved by air currents outside or in your home. The dust in your home is actually a combination of dust and dirt from outside, combined with skin cells, pet dander and a number of other particles that vary from home to home.

Tiny fibers from your clothing, lint that flakes from your carpet and furniture, skin cells, fibers of human and pet hair and a number of other small particles may be found floating around your home or stuck under your furniture. The composition of dust may be complex and contain more than small particles of lint and dirt.

Paloma Beamer, Ph.D., associate professor in the school of Public Health at the University of Arizona, has spent years thinking about and studying dust. She calculates one-third of the dust in your home comes from indoor inorganic sources and two-thirds from soil and outdoor air particles tracked into your home.

The composition of dust is complex, and so is the composition of one particle. According to Andrea Ferro, Ph.D., who teaches courses in air pollution at Clarkson University in New York, a dust particle can be a simple inorganic or organic compound, but others may have an inorganic center and an organic coating.

In other words, even those little specks of dust can be complicated. Without removal, dust can stick around for a very long time. In fact, quoted in NPR, Ferro says:

“We’re finding things like [the pesticide] DDT in many floor dust samples. We banned that decades ago, but it’s still there.”

There Is More Than You Think in Your Dust

You might find it hard to get really worked up about the dust in your home. After all, we do call those clumps under the furniture bunnies and not dust rats. You may have considered them more of a nuisance than a health problem.

However, recent research evaluating data from 25 prior studies finds there’s more in those little bunnies than meets the eye.

Published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, the study adds to a growing body of research demonstrating the dangers you are exposed to in your own home and workplace.

The chemicals residing in your dust may come from a variety of different sources, from toys and cosmetics to your shower curtain, furniture and cookware.

This study found two classes of chemicals present in high concentrations in your dust. The first is phthalates. These chemicals are commonly found and released from personal care products, such as nail polish, skin creams and lotions, perfumes, hair products and deodorants.

Exposure has been linked to endocrine system disruption, decreased IQ and respiratory problems. These are all health conditions that affect children more quickly, making the inclusion of phthalates in children’s products even more disturbing.

The second class of chemicals is highly fluorinated chemicals (HFCs). These have been associated with testicular and kidney cancers and found in everyday common objects from pizza boxes to cell phones. Your home keeps a history of chemicals and other pollutants collecting in your dust. Beamer, quoted in Time Magazine, said:

“Dust in our homes, especially deep dust in our carpets and furniture, is a conglomerate of substances over the life of the home and can provide a historical record of chemicals that have entered it.”

Breathing and Eating Tiny Dust Particles Increases Your Health Risk

If you live in a highly industrialized area, you may have something unique in your dust. In this short video, one researcher from Lancaster University explains the results of a study finding millions of magnetite nanoparticles in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Scientists believe since these nanoparticles are so small, they easily travel over the olfactory nerve to the brain as you breathe them in. These particles create chaos in your brain as they are bioreactive and directly associated with damage seen in the brains of people suffering from Alzheimer’s.

In the brain, magnetite nanoparticles create reactive oxygen species (ROS) or free radicals. These free radicals create oxidative damage to brain cells, a hallmark feature in people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. In this study, 37 brains of people aged 3 to 92 were studied.

Researchers found millions of nanoparticles per gram of freeze-dried brain tissue, an amount lead researcher Barbara Maher, called “extraordinary.”

Another study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology reviewed 26 past studies, finding a large quantity of phthalates, phenols and flame retardant chemicals in dust particles.

The concentration in these studies were so high researchers believe you likely inadvertently breathe and eat the particles laden with chemicals.

In this study, 90 percent of the homes had the 10 most common chemicals, which suggests the chemicals originate from items commonly found in your home. The chemical found in most homes was phthalates, commonly found in flexible plastics, personal care products and cosmetics.

But the Dust Doesn’t Stop There

Milken Institute of Public Health at George Washington University compiled information from past studies, government agencies and other expert bodies and identified 45 different chemicals commonly found in homes.

These chemicals were associated with health hazards such as cancer, reproductive toxicity and endocrine disruption.

The researchers pointed out that most studies evaluated the health hazards of a single toxic chemical, but finding these chemicals in combination in the dust of your home presents a potentially greater risk and needs further research.

The researchers acknowledged that the dust they studied was generally from the east and west coasts of the U.S. and therefore not nationally representative.

Dust in your home contains more than chemicals that are toxic to your body. Riding along on those dust bunnies are a variety of microbes. In one study evaluating dust in approximately 1,200 homes located across the U.S., indoor and outdoor dust samples demonstrated a broad range of different microbes. Differences appeared to be greater for bacteria than for fungi.

The distribution of allergens were predictable across climates, but indoor bacterial communities appeared to be more significantly influenced by the occupants than the geography. Factors such as the male-to-female ratio and whether there were pets had a strong influence on the types of bacteria living in the dust.

However, while the variety of bacteria was different, each home had an average of more than 5,000 species of bacteria and 2,000 species of fungi.  Although your dust may harbor thousands of different bacteria, this isn’t necessarily what makes you sick. Many of these bacteria are harmless, but the chemical and other pollutants that hitch a ride on dust particles decidedly are not.

Tips to Reduce Your Risk

One the best ways to reduce your risk of exposure is to reduce your risks at home where you spend the majority of your indoor time. Top tips to reduce chemical exposure and risk from dust accumulation include:

Eat Organic Meats and Raw Produce

As much as possible, buy and eat organic produce and free-range, organic meats to reduce your exposure to added hormones, pesticides and fertilizers. Also avoid milk and other dairy products that contain the genetically engineered recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST).

Eat mostly raw, fresh foods. Processed, prepackaged foods (of all kinds) are a common source of chemicals such as bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalates.

Eat Wild-Caught Salmon or Purified Krill Oil

Rather than eating conventional or farm-raised fish, which are often heavily contaminated with PCBs and mercury, supplement with a high-quality purified krill oil, eat smaller fish or fish that are wild-caught and lab tested for purity. Wild-caught Alaskan salmon, herring and sardines are about the only fish I eat for these reasons.

Buy and Store Food in Glass Containers

Buy products that come in glass bottles or jars rather than plastic or cans, since chemicals can leach out of plastics and the linings of cans and into the contents. Store your food and beverages in glass rather than plastic, and avoid using plastic wrap. Use glass baby bottles and avoid plastic sippy cups for your little ones.

Cook With Ceramic or Glass

Replace your non-stick pots and pans with ceramic or glass cookware.

Use Clean Water

Filter your tap water — both for drinking and bathing. If you can only afford to do one, filtering your bathing water may be more important, as your skin absorbs contaminants. To remove the endocrine-disrupting herbicide Atrazine, make sure the filter is certified to remove it.

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), perchlorate can be filtered out using a reverse osmosis filter.

Use Earth-Friendly Products, No Plastics

Look for products that are made by companies that are earth-friendly, animal-friendly, green, non-toxic and/or 100 percent organic. This applies to everything from food and personal care products to building materials, carpeting, paint, baby items, upholstery and more. Replace your vinyl shower curtain with one made of fabric.

Vacuum and Dust Regularly

Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to remove house dust, which is often contaminated with traces of chemicals. Wet mop your hard floors regularly, which will prevent dust from accumulating. Wipe furniture with a wet or microfiber cloth.

The small fibers of a microfiber cloth cause the dust to cling to it, while a wet cloth will attract and hold dust better than a dry one. Avoid chemical dusting sprays, which will only add to your home’s chemical load.

Damp dust your electronics frequently; these are a common source of flame-retardant chemicals in your dust. Use high-quality filters in your forced-air heating or cooling system and change them frequently. Caulk and seal cracks and crevices where dust might otherwise accumulate. Wash your hands before eating to remove dust from your hands and reduce the potential of ingestion.

Use Furniture and Clothing Without Fire Retardants or Stain Resistance

When buying new products such as furniture, mattresses or carpet padding, ask what type of fire retardant they contain. Be mindful of and/or avoid items containing PBDEs, antimony, formaldehyde, boric acid and other brominated chemicals.

As you replace these toxic items around your home, select those that contain naturally less flammable materials such as leather, wool and organic cotton. Avoid stain- and water-resistant clothing, furniture and carpets to avoid perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs).

Protect Your Children

Minimize your use of plastic baby and child toys, opting for those made of natural wood or fabric instead. Pay special attention to dusting areas where young children crawl, sit and play.

Use Natural Cleaning Products

Only use natural cleaning products or make your own. Avoid products that contain 2-butoxyethanol (EGBE) and methoxydiglycol (DEGME) — two toxic glycol ethers that can damage fertility and cause fetal harm.

Use Safe Personal Care Products

Switch to organic brands of toiletries for shampoo, toothpaste, antiperspirants and cosmetics. You can replace many different products with coconut oil and baking soda, for example. EWG has a great database to help you find personal care products that are free of phthalates and other potentially dangerous chemicals.

I also offer one of the highest quality organic skin care lines, shampoo and conditioner, and body butter that are completely natural and safe. Replace feminine hygiene products such as tampons and sanitary pads with safer alternatives.

Go Fragrance-Free

Look for products that are fragrance-free. One artificial fragrance can contain a dozen or more potentially toxic chemicals. Avoid artificial air fresheners, dryer sheets, fabric softeners or other synthetic fragrances.

Download a Helpful App

Milken Institute of Public Health recommends trying the Silent Spring Detox Me app available at silentspring.org. This free app shares simple tips to reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals at home and at work.

Article sourced from Mercola

Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

Rehabilitation of Abandoned Asbestos Mines in South Africa

More from the Minerals to Metals Symposium 2016

Rehabilitation of Abandoned Asbestos Mines in South Africa
The South African mining history is over a centuries and half old; however, legislature that seeks to uphold the integrity of the environment and societal wellbeing from mining impacts, is only in its third decade. The South African government has embarked on a rehabilitation programme, and abandoned asbestos mines are at the top of the priority list. This work aims to draw out lessons learnt in South Africa’s rehabilitation of asbestos mines from the government rehabilitation programme over the past 10 years by: conducting desktop studies, and environmental inspections of the rehabilitated sites in the past decade; presenting best practices and alternative practices from around the global; assessing the environmental footprint of the rehabilitation plans implemented; and investigating the actual post-rehabilitation land use compared to the planned land use. This will be to determine the effectiveness of rehabilitation plans implemented, assess their sustainability based on environmental footprint and social impact, and recommend improvements implementable to the South African rehabilitation practice.
Mpho Phalwane
MPhil in Sustainable Mineral Development
“I’m a first year MPhil student and i have seven years minerals processing experience. I believe that mining is a good vehicle for development in Africa, and I’m excited about our role in ensuring that it’s of a sustainable kind. But as Mary-Ann Evans said, “The important work of moving the world forward does not wait to be done by perfect men”; in that’s spirit we should then not be afraid to keep trying.”

An exploration of lived experiences of resettled families in Mazabuka district, Zambia. The case of 12 resettled families by a Nickel mine project
Given the negative impacts associated with resettlement projects and considering it is now close to a decade since the families at Munali Nickel Mine were resettled, the main research question for this proposal is to explore and find out what the experiences of the resettled families at Munali Mine have been?
The aim of the proposal is to explore the lived experiences of the individual males and females comprising resettled families with regards to the coping strategies.
The proposal therefore aims to fill the existing knowledge gap and lack of adequate qualitative, empirical and perceptual baseline data by exploring on the “lived experiences of resettled families”.
The thesis will be informed by an intersection of constructivism paradigm and phenomenology and will predominantly adopt a qualitative research design and will mainly focus on the 12 purposively sampled families.
Lewis Tumbama
MPhil in Sustainable Mineral Development
“Living in two worlds: Lewis is a Social Scientist by training and is working as a Senior Involuntary Resettlement Specialist on a Donor funded Project in Lusaka, Zambia.
Off professional duties, Lewis is watching movies or is actively helping to resolve community developmental needs and leadership matters in his village.”


Minerals To Metals Symposium 2016

Asbestos Mines

Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

inclusion or exclusion of women in host mining communities near Mokopane

More from the Minerals to Metals Symposium 2016

The impact of surface lease agreement pay-outs on socio economic development: A case study of inclusion or exclusion of women in host mining communities near Mokopane
In South Africa most land ownership in the rural areas, where the majority of the mines are found, falls under the leadership of traditional authorities. The purpose of this research is to outline the importance of including women from host mining communities when surface lease agreements are negotiated by the traditional authorities. Women are traditionally excluded from such negotiations because of customary law practices that are applicable to most mineral-rich communities. The research will include a review of communal land rights which include aspects of tenure, customary law, how the Interim Protection of Informal Land Rights Act (IPILRA) is applied in these areas, as well as the economics and benefits arising from mining, and the living conditions around mining areas including resettlement as an alternative. The research will be conducted in an area where mining is already operational and where surface mining rights are already awarded, so that a clear understanding is attained. Questionnaires and focus group discussions will be used to collect real stories and experiences from members of the community chosen for the study.
Mandisi Petane
MPhil in Sustainable Mineral Development
“Mandisi Petane is a project officer at the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform. He is currently pursuing his MPhil specializing in Sustainable Mineral Development at the University of Cape Town, focussing on the inclusion of women in Mine Surface Lease Agreement negotiations.”

Impact of Copper Mining on the Zambian Copperbelt Province: A case study of Mopani and KCM Mines Copper mining is the economic mainstay in Zambia, dating as far back as independence.
It is also recognised as a force that has fostered urban development on the Copperbelt province. However, the declined economic performance of the Zambian mining sector around the 1980’s and 1990’s led to inadequate handling of environmental issues emanating from mining activities. These environmental liabilities, in addition to solid waste mismanagement, have led to conflicts between mining houses and the community emanating from numerous issues. The objective of this project is to assess the impacts and conflicts associated with the copper mining sector of the Copperbelt province of Zambia, with a specific focus on the Mopani and KCM mines. This will be achieved through an investigation of the published information and perceptions amongst communities, civil society organizations and government with respect to the ‘mine-environment-community cause-effect chain’. From this study, it is expected that the gaps and shortcomings with respect to documented data and factual information will be identified. It is also envisaged that the knowledge generated through this study will assist the Zambian government in policy-making with respect to reducing the socio-economic and environmental impacts of mining, and avoiding mine-community conflicts.
Harrison Sampa Ng’andu
MPhil in Sustainable Mineral Development
“Sampa Harrison Ng’andu joined the Copperbelt University as a Senior Mining Technician/Researcher/Lecturer in September 2013, where he gained his undergrad degree. Currently he is pursuing an MPhil specializing in Sustainable Mineral Resource Development at UCT. He has participated in a number of research works, including; Engineering Education in Zambia, Mining and Sustainable Development: An Expose of the Zambian Mining Industry.”



Minerals To Metals Symposium 2016

Mining communities

Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.