Tag Archives: dust

Should We Give Dust a Chance?

Should We Give Dust a Chance? The European Nework on Silica says “no”.  Read the following article from nepsi and see what they have to say.


Link to the original article – https://www.nepsi.eu/dont-give-dust-chance

Don’t Give Dust a Chance

nepsi – The European Network on Silica

“Dust is a disperse distribution of solid substances in gases, particularly air, resulting from mechanical processes or from the swirling up of deposits.

With this rather complicated definition a very specific type of hazardous substance is paraphrased which is accorded a particular significance in many branches of industry. In mining, quarries and tunnelling, in the use of dust or powder-like raw materials in the glass and ceramics industry, in metal foundries, in the manufacture and processing of building materials, in the mechanical machining of different raw and finished products, for example as a result of grinding, but also in maintenance and cleaning work in areas with a high accumulation of dust: in all these processes, fine and finest solid particles occur which are released into the air at the workplace and can therefore be inhaled by the people employed there.

The health hazard caused by the inhalation of dust is however usually dramatically underestimated by employees and the responsible management staff in the plant. On the one hand dust is often only considered to be “annoying dirt”, which from time to time needs to be swept away or disposed of – as long as one can still see one’s hands in front of one’s eyes, everything is ok.

On the other hand the matter of dust is old hat, the proverbial “hellholes” belong to the past at any rate, or maybe not?

To be able to effectively confront such catastrophic prejudices and thereby facilitate an effective dust control, a deeper knowledge of the type and mode of action of the different types of dust is necessary.

What dusts are there actually?
As already defined, dust consists of fine, solid particles distributed in the air that are caused by mechanical machining (milling or surface machining) or by the swirling up of deposits (e.g. by blowing off dust with pressurised air or dry sweeping using a broom). Fumes count among dusts in the broad sense. They are formed as a result of chemical or thermal processes (e.g. welding) and also consist of fine solid particles distributed in the air.

Fibre dust is a description of airborne particles made from inorganic or organic substances which have an elongated shape. Fibres which have a length of > 5 µm, a diameter of < 3 µm and exceed a length-diameter ratio of 3:1 play a particular role since only they can penetrate into the deeper respiratory passages.

Dust entering the air at the workplace is inhaled when breathing and thereby reaches the different areas of the respiratory organs. Larger particles are already segregated in the upper air passages, i.e. in the nose and throat, while only the smaller particles reach the deeper respiratory passages, the alveolus or pulmonary alveoli. To assess the health hazard, therefore, in addition to the concentration of particles (dust mass per m³ breathable air in [mg/m³]) the particle size in particular is also of significance.

Two size categories are thereby differentiated: the inhalable and the respirable fraction. Inhalable dust refers to the entire inhalable proportion of the dust through the mouth and nose. Repirable dust relates to the proportion of the respirable dust which can reach the pulmonary alveoli due to its small particle size (fig. 1 and 2).

The individual hazardous substances can, in each case depending on how they originate, occur in entirely different particle fractions and be individually limited in these fractions via the occupational exposure limit (OEL) according to their toxic properties. The assessment of dust that is hazardous to health at the workplace therefore, in addition to the proportions of inhalable and respirable dust, also calls for the knowledge on the distribution of the hazardous substance within the individual fractions. A differentiation must be made according to particle size, shape and material composition (fig.3).

Occupational exposure limits for different varieties of dust have so far been determined according to this principle for the inhalable or for the respirable dust fraction. Irrespective of this there are general upper limits for the inhalable and respirable fraction of dust without specific toxic effect. In the EU no binding OEL has so far been determined for inhalable and respirable dust. However, for inhalable dust a OEL of 10 mg/m³ applies in the majority of EU member states whereas the national values for respirable dust are in a range from 3 to 6 mg/m³. An overview of the internationally applicable OEL´s for dust can be found in www.dguv.de/ifa/de/gestis/limit_values/index.jsp (fig. 4).

How do dusts enter the body and what effect do they have?
Humans have a respiratory system with an effective self-clearance mechanism. This filter system copes with “normal grime” effortlessly and protects humans quite perfectly. However, it is not adequately designed for excessive stress as a result of dusts. An essential function in the self-clearance of the respiratory passages is played by the microscopically-small cilia which can be found inside the bronchia and their finer branches, the bronchioles. With continuous directed movements they transport the dust particles deposited in the bronchial mucus back to the upper respiratory tract where they can then be coughed up.

As a result of inhaling large quantities of dust or of toxic dust, this clearance mechanism can be disrupted or at least be greatly impaired for a long time. The consequences are irritations or inflammations of the upper respiratory passages, increased mucous secretions and a tickly cough, bronchitis and inflammations of the bronchia and of the pulmonary tissue. In these cases, it is much easier for toxic, carcinogenic and allergenic dust particles such as, for example silica dust, heavy metal oxides, welding fumes, wood or flour dust, to deploy their harmful effect in the respiratory passages and in other organs of the body.

Tobacco fumes particularly impair the clearance mechanism of the lungs. Smoking can lead to the destruction of the bronchial mucosa with the irreversible loss of cilia and adenocytes of the respiratory passages that form mucous. The transport of the mucous with the dust particles segregated in it out of the respiratory passages comes to a standstill. Smoking therefore is harmful not only as a result of the toxic substances in the tobacco smoke such as tar constituents, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, benzene, heavy metals and nicotine. It also disables the self-clearance mechanism of the lungs and thereby multiplies the harmful effect of the inhaled dust.

What regulations are there on dust protection?
The fundamental approach for dust protection is determined in the Chemical Agents Directive 98/24/EC dated 7 April 1998. Accordingly it should be tested whether substances with a lower risk to health can be used (principle of substitution). However, silica as a raw material cannot be replaced in many branches of industry since silicon dioxide is the basic component for an entire series of mineral raw materials and products. Other frequently used hazardous dusts (e.g. lead oxide in glazes and engobes) can sometimes be replaced by other less harmful compounds.

If hazardous substances cannot be substituted, protective measures are to be taken. The order of precedence of the protective measures is also defined in the Chemical Agents Directive. Work methods are to be designed in such a way that hazardous vapours and suspended particles are not released. Leaking of generated dust can be prevented, for example, by means of dust-tight systems or vacuum operation. The design of the working process is therefore to be reviewed. For example, the use of moistened raw materials can drastically reduce the production of dust. Another possibility is the use of raw material granulates with a corresponding lower tendency to dust formation.

According to the current state of the art the release of dust is unavoidable in many production areas. For this reason capture must be as complete as possible already at the emission point or point of origin. There are already suitable extraction systems, for example, for ceramic presses, for bagging units for powdery substances or tools and systems for the machining of natural stone. The effectiveness of extraction systems must be supported with corresponding ventilation technology and adequate venting of the work areas. Substances which tend to produce dust must be immediately disposed of by suitable means (vacuum cleaners or sweeping vacuum machines with deduster) in the event of repair works. Brooms or even pressurised air are not suitable and are to be strictly banned from such areas!

If the OEL´s, despite exploiting all technical and organisational protective measures, are not complied with, for example during maintenance and repair work, then personal protective measures are necessary, for example wearing dust masks.

In any event employees must be trained in accordance with the Chemical Agents Directive about hazards and protective measures: the preparation of operating instructions and corresponding instruction by supervisors are compulsory. Further organisational measures in the event of dust exposure include the execution of specific occupational health check-ups or the minimisation of exposure by restricting the duration of stay of the employees (e.g. in a partially or fully-automated raw material dosing system).

What is the situation in practice?
The relatively extensive and thus general provisions of the Chemical Agents Directive 98/24/EC are further substantiated in the EU member states in national legislation. These regulations, however, often are not sufficient to solve urgent dust problems in operational practice. For this reason the Expert Committee for glass and ceramics have prepared “Ten golden rules for dust control”, which should provide plants with a simple, clear and above all user-friendly guideline. These rules can be used by the responsible parties in the plant for the risk assessment, for training purposes and in daily work.

If the rules are observed by the employees, they will achieve a major contribution to the reduction of dust exposure and thus improve the protection of health in the plants.

10 Golden Rules – follow the link provided – https://www.nepsi.eu/dont-give-dust-chance#accordeon – to read these in full

1. Avoid the formation of dust in the first place
2.Use low-dust Materials
3. Work in closed systems wherever possible
4. Immediately separate dust at the point of origin
5. Optimise and regularly maintain extraction systems
6. Adequately ventilate the workshops
7. Immediately dispose of waste in a dust-free manner
8. Regularly clean workplaces
9. Keep work clothes clean
10. Use respiratory protection for dust-intensive work”


Should We Give Dust a Chance?

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

The Truth About Dust

Last time we read that dust wasn’t so bad, now let’s read this article from the Karolinsak Institute and learn “The dirty truth about dust”


Follow this link for the original article – https://ki.se/en/research/the-dirty-truth-about-dust

Karolinska Institute – Research

The dirty truth about dust
“Some people say that no one has ever died from a little dust. On the contrary, say others, dust is deadly. In reality, not all dust can be tarred with the same brush. Here is your guide to the dirt on earth – and on the moon.

When Neil Armstrong and the other astronauts walked on the moon in the 1960s and 70s, small clouds of moon dust puffed up around each footstep. It really flew up when they went for a drive in the moon buggy. So much so that they were forced to stop and build an improvised mudflap with material from the moon lander.

Back in the space capsule, they took off their dirty spacesuits as if was any other day at work. In pictures from inside the space capsule, the astronaut Eugene Cernan looks like a happy miner, covered in dust and with a big smile on his face.

But extraterrestrial dust is not like other dust. The astronauts noted that it smelled remarkably strongly of burned gunpowder. And it stuck to everything. The astronaut Jack Schmitt was the first to be affected by a mysterious space cold.

“It was really crazy how they acted, that they didn’t store the spacesuits separately. We now consider moon dust to be very hazardous,” explains Lars Karlsson, researcher at the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Karolinska Institutet.

The dust has been described as being fine as flour, but as rough as sandpaper. It is thought to have been created through millions of years of bombardment by micrometeorites that have partly transformed the top layer of stone into glass. Further meteorites have then crushed this glass into increasingly fine particles.

Lars Karlsson, who is conducting research concerning human physiology in space, describes how moon dust is a serious impediment to future moon landings. Together with an international research team, he has analysed how moon dust is thought to affect the human body. According to the researchers’ hypotheses, moon dust has pretty much all of the bad properties dust can have.

“Firstly, it consists of very sharp particles that cut into the tissues. Secondly, it is irradiated with cosmic radiation, which we believe makes it electrically charged and hyper-reactive – this means that it sticks to everything and reacts chemically with everything it comes into contact with. Thirdly, it contains many small particles that can penetrate barriers such as human skin and lung tissue,” says Lars Karlsson.

Combined with low or non-existent gravity, which means that the dust that is stirred up does not fall down again, this makes it really problematic.

Is there anything like moon dust on earth?

“No, not even the moon dust that has been brought back to earth is like moon dust any more. When it reacts with the earth’s atmosphere, its properties change. Attempts have been made to preserve it in airtight containers, but without success. The closest thing to moon dust that exists on earth is newly formed ash from volcanoes,” says Lars Karlsson.

His is one of few researchers who have the opportunity to gain access to moon dust. Together with his colleague Dag Linnarsson, he is now attempting to get the funding together to return it to its original state and study it further. The fact is there is interest from NASA and other space financiers to learn more about the properties and health effects of moon dust. Because one thing is clear – if humans are to return to the moon, the dust issue must be resolved.

On the earth the windy atmosphere and the rain mean that dust particles become rounded and precipitation and gravity mean that the dust eventually ends up on the ground. The dust is not electrically charged and the oxygen in the air means that it is not as chemically aggressive as it is on the moon. But even here, some groups of workers are exposed to chemically reactive dust, for example siliceous dust in the stone industry.

And visiting something that looks similar to a lunar landscape does not require space travel. All you have to do is take a walk to Torsplan in Stockholm, where you will find one of Europe’s largest construction sites. The construction of the new Karolinska University Hospital and its new neighbouring blocks looks, in places, like a bomb site. Which it is actually – the air smells strongly of burned gunpowder after the most recent explosion.

Towering above the disarray is a newly constructed building on the tenth floor of which industrial hygienist Pernilla Wiebert has her office. She works at the Centre of Occupational and Environmental Medicine at Stockholm County Council, helping patients who suffer from work-related health problems, and she conducts research concerning dust and occupational health problems at the Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet.

The premises are quiet, bright and fresh. The patients, some of whom have developed a sensitivity to dust and strong smells, are received on wooden chairs that are easy to keep clean.

“We have a very good cleaner here,” says Pernilla Wiebert. She explains that some of the patients have been exposed to quartz dust, which is still a significant work environment problem in the construction industry.

As with moon dust, quartz dust consists of hard particles of silica that the body cannot break down. The particles are instead encapsulated in scar tissue in the pulmonary alveoli, which leads in the long term to solidified lungs and the incurable disease silicosis.

“In the long term, silicosis is a deadly disease, so it is serious,” explains Pernilla Wiebert.

Quartz dust also increases the risk of the lung disease COPD, which is more common among construction workers than others. The fact that it is carcinogenic is also known because of studies such as that at Gustavsberg’s porcelain factory, where the levels of quartz dust were ten times higher than the limit value in the 1970s and 80s. When Pernilla Wiebert and her research colleagues investigated the incidence of cancer among former employees, it was shown that more of them than normal had contracted lung cancer, as well as urinary tract cancers. Quartz is present in the bedrock and soil in Sweden and in products such a concrete, ceramic and glass. The problem of quartz dust is greatest in the construction industry and mining and stone industry, but is also found in industries such as agriculture and cleaning work such as sandblasting.

The other day she visited the construction site on the other side of the street and was “really impressed” by the efforts being made in terms of the working environment. But in general, she is not at all satisfied.

“Exposure to dust has decreased since the problem was first noted, but we are now seeing an increase in the problem again. Those people who were committed to this problem have subsequently been replaced and it is so much easier to focus on the risk of accidents. Dust is more deceptive as it effects people in the long term,” she says.

Protecting yourself requires good cleaning procedures and the use of a breathing mask – and the beard has to go.

“A breathing mask must fit tightly and works poorly when you have a beard or stubble. There are good ways to protect yourself, but such important details are often neglected. If only the knowledge we have had been used, there would not be a problem,” says Pernilla Wiebert.

Dust is also deceptive, as the most common type can neither be seen nor smelled. Larger particles can certainly worsen asthma and cause allergies, if they contain allergens.

But the cilia in the airways are able to quickly transport them to the throat where they are swallowed, and they are clearly noticeable as an irritation in the nose and throat. Small particles, that are found in dust such as quartz dust, reach as far down as the lungs’ capillaries and alveoli, where they remain for a longer period or are encapsulated permanently.

It is uncertain to what extent small particles penetrate even further, past the lungs, and where they end up. In order to answer this question, Pernilla Wiebert, as part of the work on her thesis, is using an apparatus that generates a cloud of carbon particles, every one of which is labelled with a radioactive isotope that makes it traceable. The radioactive carbon cloud is then inhaled by test subjects.

“I thought that some of the particles would perhaps enter the bloodstream. But it was shown that almost all of the particles, even the smallest, remained in the lungs,” she says.

That was the case with the carbon cloud specifically. But other researchers have found inhaled nanoparticles in organs such as the liver, kidneys and brain. Even if the particles normally remain in the lungs, this does not mean that they are otherwise harmless to the body. Inflammation in the lungs can lead to inflammation in the cardiovascular system and myocardial infarction; something that is more common within occupations with a high level of exposure to particles. The risk is particularly high within occupations with a high level of exposure to small particles from combustion, such as engine exhaust.

Pernilla Wiebert is currently working on a research project that compares the incidence of myocardial infarction in various occupations with data concerning exposure to particles – the goal is to gain new knowledge about which types of particles are most hazardous.

Dust with a biological origin may contain, for example, animal proteins, bacteria and fungal spores, and in high doses can cause influenza-like symptoms known as ODTS (organic dust toxic syndrome). Long-term inhalation can cause inflammatory changes in the lungs that researchers call extrinsic allergic alveolitis, but in specific occupations may go by names such as farmer’s lung, bird fancier’s lung and cheese washer’s lung.

The dust that is formed in pigsties is particularly nasty. Swineherd’s have an increased risk of developing ODTS, as well as the lung diseases chronic bronchitis and COPD, which normally affect mainly smokers. Lena Palmberg, researcher at the Institute for Environmental Medicine, has shown that swineherds have an impaired natural immune response and a chronic inflammation in the respiratory tract. Test subjects who try out the work temporarily also quickly get sharply increased levels of white blood cells and the signs of respiratory tract inflammation. The research indicates that it is bacteria or bacterial components from the pigs’ excrement that is having a detrimental impact on the lungs of swineherds.

Even those who do not have dusty occupations are unavoidably exposed to dust in the home and outdoor environments. Common household dust consists largely of relatively harmless fragments of dead skin and textile fibres. But if the dust contains substances that disrupt hormones or other chemicals from the surroundings, there is a fear that this may lead to a serious impact on health in the long term.

This is currently being investigated in several studies at Karolinska Institutet, among them a project in which dust in preschools is being analysed. The confirmed health effects are even greater when it comes to dust outdoors. However, as opposed to dusty occupations, where a few individuals have a markedly increased risk of becoming ill, dusty cities lead to a fairly small increase in various health risks, but for a large number of people.

“For an individual, the increase in risk is not particularly large. But when looking at the entire population, particles in the air cause many premature deaths each year,” says Tom Bellander, professor of environmental epidemiology at the Institute for Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet.

In spring, cities become particularly dusty as the streets dry out and the particles that have been stored by damp roads over winter are stirred up into the air. Small particles from combustion are generally regarded as having the most serious health effects. In recent years, however, the perception that larger particles, such as those that arise when studded tires wear the road, would at worst be an irritant, has been re-evaluated. “We know now, from studies of environments in which sand from the Sahara often blows in, that larger particles also contribute to increased mortality,” says Tom Bellander.

According to Tom Bellander, it is generally very difficult to determine what makes a particular particle harmful and to measure exactly which particles are responsible for the detrimental health effects. The guidelines that are used to regulate particle levels in the air focus on the particles’ size. The World Health Organisation’s guidelines state, for example, that the air should not contain more than 10 micrograms per cubic metre of particles that are up to 2.5 micrometres in size in the long term. There are also statutory standards for these and for somewhat larger particles. But Tom Bellander believes that a major deficiency with the guidelines is that they do not take greater account of the shape, origin and chemical properties of the particles. Quite simply, we do not know enough to enable this.

At the political level, Tom Bellander believes that there is a lot to do if we are to reduce the level of particles in the air. The goal should be to reduce emissions and move them from environments in which people live. As an individual, there is not much you can do aside from living in a place that is as clean as possible.

“If you live in Beijing, Delhi or Mexico City, I think this is something very relevant to be thinking about. In Sweden, this is really more one factor among others to think about when you plan to move, provided you do not have a specific sensitivity that gives you problems.”

But understandably, the advice to move cannot be followed by everyone.

“The emissions are where the people are. So if everyone moved out of the city centre, it won’t be long before a large proportion of the air pollution moves too.”

Info: This is why dust can be harmful
Dust can consist of almost anything and be harmless or deadly. Here are some properties of dust particles that govern their impact on health.

Size – Small particles such as exhaust particles float for longer in the air, are more easily inhaled and get deeper into the lungs.

Shape – Particles with a large surface area such as moon dust have a greater risk of reacting with the body’s cells and tissues.

Reactivity – The surface of particles can be chemically reactive or stable. This determines what reactions can take place when they come into contact with the human body.

Lifespan – Some particles can be broken down by the body, others cannot. For example, quartz dust remains in the body, which increases the risk of some health effects.

Info: This is where dust particles are found
Dust can consist of, for example, pollen, bacteria, smoke, ash, salt crystals from the sea and small pieces of dirt or stone.

There is often a grain of dust in the middle of a raindrop. Raindrops are actually formed around small grains of dust or particles in the atmosphere known as aerosols.

The more dust the air contains, the prettier the sunset. This is because particles help to disperse blue light and let through more of the red colours.

The Sahara Desert is the greatest source of dust in the world. Every year, 180 million tonnes are blown out over the Atlantic. Some reaches South America, where it helps to fertilise the Amazon Rain Forest.

Text: Ola Danielsson, first published in Medicinsk Vetenskap, 2 2016″


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

Dust – Good for you?

Can dust and dirt be good for you?  Have a look.  Enjoy the read!


Link to the original article – https://www.thestar.com/life/health_wellness/news_research/2011/05/16/dust_might_be_good_for_you_study.html

Dust might be good for you: study

By Eric DanekThe Canadian Press
Mon., May 16, 2011

“MONTREAL – Didn’t get around to dusting this weekend? Don’t worry. It turns out that dust might actually hold some benefits for you.

The perennial household nuisance actually purifies the air by neutralizing ozone that can harm our lungs.

Dust can do this because one of its major components is human skin — which contains the ozone-eliminating component squalene.

So don’t feel too bad about the fact that bits of your body are accumulating on the DVD player.

“Dust is parts of . . . people that have been in that room,” said Charles Weschler, who helped author a study, the result of which were announced this week by the American Chemical Society.

“I mean, that’s a gross way of thinking about it.”

Humans constantly shed their skin, losing up to 500 million cells per day. At that rate, according to Weschler, it would take a person two to four weeks to turn over all of the skin cells on their body.

It’s these skin flakes that clean the air. Their squalene helps neutralize ozone.

Most people might think of ozone as a good thing — and it is, when it’s up high in the atmosphere and protecting us from ultraviolet radiation. But when it’s down here, closer to us in the air that we breathe, it’s a pollutant.

According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, even very low concentrations of ozone can be harmful to the upper respiratory tract and the lungs.

In their study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Science and Technology, Weschler and colleagues studied the potential of ozone removal by dust in Danish homes and daycares.

They found the reduction of ozone could be anywhere from two to 15 per cent, depending on the amount of squalene present in the dust.

The benefits could be even greater.

Weschler’s study only looked at the squalene in settled dust. He thinks that squalene from dust can also stick to surfaces like windows or desks, and this squalene coating could lead to a higher-than-calculated ozone reduction.

Dust isn’t the only source of squalene in our environment. We’re literally covered in it.

“The skin oils on our surface, (the) skin oils on our forehead, or our nose or the oils responsible for us leaving fingerprints behind, those skin oils contain squalene,” said Weschler, a professor at the School of Public Health at the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey.

“Squalene is actually the single most abundant chemical in our skin surface (oils).”

He calls human beings, “remarkably good ozone sinks.”
But before you pack away that feather-duster forever, there are some caveats.

Of course, lower ozone levels will hardly provide comfort to your guests with dust allergies who wind up hacking and wheezing when they come over.

And not much is known about the health effects of the compounds formed when squalene and ozone react with each other.”


Link to the original article – https://www.marksdailyapple.com/going-grubby-the-primal-benefits-of-dirt-dust-dishevelment/

Mark’s Daily Apple

Going Grubby: The Primal Benefits of Dirt, Dust and Dishevelment

“Clearly, cleanliness is next to godliness, as they say, in this country. The number of products devoted to the sacred rite of purging and scouring American households staggers the imagination. (Ever roamed the cleaning supply aisles at Target? It’s a trip unto itself.) Every strength, size, scent, packaging, active ingredient, and formula (Would you prefer powder, gel, spray, cream, or specially concentrated disk?). But wait! There’s the anti-bacterial, virus-killing, and “odor shielding” options. And, of course, we now have a plethora of “green” cleaners infiltrating the line up. (Some more green than others.)

But just what do we get for the infinite invention of the last thirty or so years? Are our living quarters really all that much cleaner than our grandmother’s homes? Have we truly transcended the power of elbow grease, hot water, and simple routine?

While basic sanitation has clearly made a critical difference in human health, what happens when old-fashioned diligence becomes super strength obsession?

We all remember learning in school that 90% of household dust is made up of sloughed human skin. Yeah, it grossed us out, but is it really such a major health threat that we use language suggestive of military assault to “combat” it? We tend to think that there are some useful things in there. How about pet dander? Numerous studies have shown that exposure to pet dander throughout childhood reduces the incidence of pet allergy and asthma.

We agree that if you can write “wash me” in the dust on your window sill it’s time to dig out the Swifter. (We didn’t say we were fans of filth.) Keeping a handle on the dust that accumulates is important, we think, but not because of the heebie jeebies elicited by the skin statistic or any aesthetic reasoning. It’s those nasty flame retardant particles (PBDEs) that get kicked up from furniture and other household items we talked about a couple of weeks ago. (Suddenly that human skin sounds pretty good.) Nonetheless, we don’t believe in flying off the handle. Cut out conventional flame retardant products where you can and happily retire the white glove test.

O.K., this one’s our favorite. We could write an entire post “Ode to Dirt.” Suffice it to say, since our long lost days of mud pies, too many of us have forgone the unique pleasure of luxuriating in nature’s emollient.

For anyone who’s had a mud mask or massage, you likely need little convincing. For those of you who lived in the mud as children much to the desperate chagrin of your mothers, we know the love isn’t something you truly outgrow. (You wouldn’t happen to be outdoorsmen/women now would you?) But if you don’t fall into these categories, consider that your run-of-the-mill, basic, unassuming, backyard soil can act as an anti-depressant? You bet your buckets! Naturally occurring bacteria in the soil, it turns out, trip the neurons that produce serotonin.

As for soap, consider it overrated. There’s genius in that skin of ours – a nifty little “acid mantle,” to be specific, that protects the skin from dehydration, inflammation, and cracking that leaves it open to infection.

As for the typical household cleaners designed to rid your house of every speck of dirt that may trespass beyond your doorway? Well, as we said in our chemical load post, the endocrine-disrupting and respiratory damaging chemicals that make up so much of those products seem to be a much greater threat (understatement) than the good old dirt that Grok lived, ate and breathed.

O.K. We don’t have much of a “health” argument to make with this one. In fact, household clutter has even been linked to higher obesity rates. However, in light of the “clean” obsession, are we overdoing it on this front too? There’s the part in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off when Ferris describes Cameron’s house (to paraphrase): It’s like a museum. It’s very beautiful, but you don’t dare touch anything.

In Grok’s day (and perhaps in our grandmothers’) it was probably easier to keep a clean house because – well – people just didn’t accumulate as much stuff. In the age of Rubbermaid bins and The Container Store, isn’t it so easy to just keep adding to the collection as long as everything ends up with a place to “live,” as professional organizers call it?

We think there’s a place for dishevelment to be sure. To affirm the old adage, recent research suggests that the owners of messy offices are more creative than those with very neat spaces. Apparently, the proverbial, creative, “light-bulb” moments tend to come as a result of mental happenstance. The mind finds momentary distraction in a “side track” thought (or random unearthed document) and has the chance to make new and novel connections. Sound true to you?

In the spirit of good old Mother Nature, the opposite of dishevelment isn’t meticulous organization. In one setting, one moment, it’s layer upon layer of rich detail. Stark spareness in another. (Perhaps there’s something to living with both possibilities. Hmmm?) In either and any case, it’s messy, dirty, dusty, rough, ragged and will probably leave a mark. In the postmodern, super sanitized, Fabreeze-misted world of Mr. Clean versus Grok, thanks, but we’ll hang with Grok any day of the week.”



Dust - Good for you?

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

Why Dust in Monitored

Why Dust is Monitored

Industrial dust can explode.  These occur when a large build up of combustible dust is dispersed into the air and then explode if provided with an ignition source.  Immense damage and loss of life can follow. (See video – https://www.csb.gov/csb-releases-new-safety-video-inferno-dust-explosion-at-imperial-sugar/)

Other dangers that industrial dust pose are lung diseases caused by the inhalation and retention of dust in the lungs. Coal miners especially are exposed to many kinds of dusts including silica. Tiny particles of coal dust are retained in the alveoli – they are surrounded by macrophages but, eventually, the system is overwhelmed and an immune response follows.

It is impossible to prevent all industrial dust diseases but they can be reduced by various safety precautions, such as adequate ventilation, keeping down dust levels and wearing of facemasks.

An extremely important factor in prevention of dust related problems is the monitoring of dust using specially engineered equipment. Dust monitoring equipment assist industry and agriculture in detecting harmful levels of toxic dust which in turn allows the problem to be engineered away.

Dust not only causes health and safety problems but can also cost industry money in terms of equipment maintenance and production. See the extract below from the website http://www.dust-monitoring-equipment.com/services/dustdesign.htm  : “We have successfully removed fish scales from marine diamond deposits with specialized dust control equipment.   The fish scales were not actually a dust problem but they did interfere with the optics used to separate diamonds. This is similar to the problem where we had to de-fluff diamond concentrates from underground mining operations, where a slurry explosive is pre-packed in plastic bags. The slivers of plastic fluoresced in the same way that diamonds fluoresce and needed to be removed from the process.”

In general finer suspended dust remains airborne almost indefinitely due to air currents and thermal activities on any given day, even if there is no wind at all. The unit that we use to capture this dust is the DustWatch, designed and patented in South Africa by Gerry Kuhn Environmental and Hygiene Engineering.

The use of fall-out monitoring yields a large amount of information, allowing a far greater and effective study to be undertaken than any other single sampling method. If used in combination with PM10 or total particulate dust sampling, results can be very conclusive.

Why Dust in Monitored - Dust Bucket - Fallout dust monitoring - DustWatch

Why dust is monitored


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

Dust Defined

Dust Defined – The following information comes from one of our own articles.  What exactly is dust?  Take a look below – for the full article please follow the link – http://dust-monitoring-equipment.com/training-presentation-dust-is-not-dust.htm

Dust Defined

As dust is fine solids or, in some cases liquids, there needs to be a system of measuring the particulate size and then to categorise the various dusts by size to see to what extent the dust is ingested.

The particulate can be measured by various means but within the metric system of measurements, we use the term micrometer or micron, which is an exceedingly small measurement of one-one thousandth of the millimetre.  The human eye will only see a profusion of dust in the air under certain conditions – predominantly if one is viewing the plume of dust against a blue sky against the light.  This presumes of course, that the dust concerned has a low reflective index and the colour has the greatest contrast with the sky colour as possible.

A lime dust plume is far more visible than cement, which is grey – less of a contrast against the sky’s blue.  Similarly, coal dust will be visible against the sky, whereas a light grey roadway dust will be less visible.


Any existence of moisture within the emission will also increase the dust visibility:-


* By physically wetting the particle, which then may become darker in colour.
* By condensing and adding a visible dimension to the plume.  Most observers will comment on how bad a dust plume looks when they are in fact seeing steam or water vapour, which they presume is white smoke rather than what it is – water vapour.  As a rule of thumb, watch such a plume and if it suddenly starts to disappear, then you are seeing water vapour.  What remains in the air is dust and this may just be visible at a distance further than the vapour plume extremity.


Dust of differing size particulate has a system of descriptive classification, which, while rather subjective, does put a lot of light on the matter and enables us to obtain a good idea of the particle size range applicable for each category.


The following diagram 1, of which there are many examples with slight variations, is most handy to convey the concept of particulate sizing within each category by definition.




As soon as one starts to view the various dust sizes, further classification by various agencies come into the picture due to the need to monitor for health purposes or for other reasons.


Occupationally, in South Africa we need to be aware that there are categories for:


* Respirable dust
* Thoracic dust
* Inhaleable dust
* Nuisance dust.


While the last description may not be that official it is used by all and sundry as a “one size fits all” approach, as we all hate dust with one or two exceptions – “Gold Dust” or perhaps “Diamond Dust”.  To define any dust one needs to specify the dust particulate size range not withstanding the reasonably hard and fast definitions outlined above.  The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), now considered to be one of the foremost authorities on industrial hygiene and contrary to its name, is a private not-for-profit non-governmental corporation, whose members are industrial and occupational hygienists and other safety and health professionals dedicated to the promotion of health, safety and health safety in the workplace, has established the indicated classifications based on the following criteria:-


SIZE DISTRIBUTION Aerodynamic diameter (d) Mass % Aerodynamic diameter (d) Mass % Aerodynamic diameter (d) Mass %


































































DEFINED SIZE d0,50 = 100µm d0,50 = 10µm d0,50 = 4µm




The term or definition of total dust is “airborne material sampled with the 37mm closed face cassette traditionally used for aerosol sampling”.  The term will ultimately need to be replaced occupationally by one of the above descriptions.  Research using cassettes has broadly indicated  it is scandalous that we still ‘assume’ this total dust is a risk or not after over 40 years.  It can be ingested.


We point out that the three categories of particulate size sampling are achieved using the new ISO/CEN/ACGIH curve cyclone with a flow rate of 2,208 litres/min (say 2,2 litres/min).  The previous BMRC curve cyclones were operated at a flow rate of 1,890 litres/min (say 1,9 litres/min).


During the initial stages of the swap-over to ISO/CEN/ACGIH cyclones, we noted that paired rigs yielded a d0,50 cut off of 4,00µm for the BRMC and 5,0µm for the latter.  This was largely due to the differing flow rates and if the ISO/CEN/ACGIH was operated at 1,9 litres/min then a value closer to the BRMC 4,00µm was achieved.  So why increase the flow rate?  Research has now found larger particulate trapped in lung tissue.


The above information is handy for occupational hygienists to determine PM10 levels using ISO/CEN/ACGIH cyclones and 37mm cassettes and monitoring for environmental purposes.


When using the cassette without the cyclone at 1,90 litres/min, one achieves a PM10 result, but to improve the distribution of dust on to the filter, the distance between the cassette entrance hole and filter needs to be increased so a more lamina distribution can be achieved as well as a more consistent loading of the filter.  Any material entering and remaining loosely in the bottom of the cassettes must not be retained in the sample as this will be average oversize and considerably so.


It is possible to take a larger cut-off at perhaps d0,50 – 20µm, 30µm or even 50µm, but if we bear in mind that the limiting factor after 2,0 litres/min becomes the cassette opening, which needs to be drilled out to 6mm for 20µm and 30µm and to 10mm for 50µm dust, then one is sacrificing cassettes.  The flow rates also become increasingly critical the larger particulate we wish to capture and one then needs to consider the density of the dust material to arrive at a flow rate.




Well, to start off, we need to go back and notice how we accepted the particulate sizing and flow rates so easily and assumed that these are finite, cut and dried and cast in stone as it were!!!


No, life is never that simple and air density played a massive role in the amount of air that our gravimetric sampler was handling, and in fact the altitude will also have played a massive role, as well as barometric pressure, so at the end of the day, how accurate are those Respirable, Thoracic or Inhalable dust samples, and while we are at it, how accurate is your high volume constant flow sampler determining PM10 sample results?  It has become question after question with fewer and fewer answers being available, which means that the environmental auditors who check your reports will only specify and check that your methodology was to regulation or method.  Where has reality gone?  Dust is not dust, is not dust, or is it?


While we are on Question Time, let us select a few more to look at:-


* If your PM10 or gravimetric sampling rig sampler is operating to spec and the dust is mainly organic, are you over reading or under reading?  Does Durban and Johannesburg make a difference?
* The same question needs to be asked for gravimetric sampling, but let us add common pollutants to make the answer more difficult.  If your gravimetric sampler and ISO/CEN/ACGIH cyclone and cassette are running at 2,2 litres/min with cellulose wood fibre dust and coal dust, will the results be the same and will both be representative bearing in mind that the density of wood fibre could be as low as 20 kg/m3, while the coal dust will have a density of over 2 ton/m3?  I have used bulk density and not material density.  Is this correct?


Having questioned convention surrounding capturing the airborne dust for your sample, let us look at how the dust is scavenged or collected.


The inlet on an ISO/CEN/ACGIH cyclone is exceedingly small and is directional and far too many assumptions are made around the acceptance of accuracy.


We need to be aware of directional airflow in the sampling area or over the sampling rig and this airflow needs to be stabilised before we can assume that the result is correct.  The bell or impactor on a PM10 or PM2,5 rig can scavenge windblown dust and affect the dynamics of collection to the point where accuracy is affected in the same way as the cyclone rig, so we need to ask what we are sampling for and work within the limitation of the equipment we are using.


Finally, the cost of equipment and the labour needed to run sampling exercises, means that we try to minimise the number of samples that are taken as well as the position and we erroneously assume that these are representative.


* Sampling in one or two positions is not representative of conditions on a plant, surrounding a property, in a township or industrial area.
* Sampling on one or two days, a week or even a month is as inaccurate as a total guess when viewing permanent conditions.
* Most analysis methods demand samples of substance, more than the couple of micrograms collected in a PM10 or gravimetric dust sample with the result that inaccuracies of scale are being accepted.


To illustrate this, the City of Cape Town has about seven permanent monitoring stations around the Peninsula, which run at best erratically and often not at all and the results are accepted without question.


On mines, the dust levels come down all the time but silicosis cases increase – there is something wrong.  There are many cases out there with persons never having worked at a mine or lived near one.



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


Dangers of Dust in the Workplace

Here is an in-depth article from the World Health Organisation regarding dust in the workplace.  Please follow the link to read the full article.

Dangers of Dust in the Workplace

Hazard prevention and control in the work environment: Airborne dust (WHO, 1999)
© 1999 World Health Organization


“Executive summary
Airborne contaminants can occur in the gaseous form (gases and vapours) or as aerosols, which include airborne dusts, sprays, mists, smokes and fumes. Airborne dusts are of particular concern because they are associated with classical widespread occupational lung diseases such as the pneumoconioses, as well as with systemic intoxications such as lead poisoning, especially at higher levels of exposure. There is also increasing interest in other dust-related diseases, such as cancer, asthma, allergic alveolitis and irritation, as well as a whole range of non-respiratory illnesses, which may occur at much lower exposure levels. This document has, therefore, been produced to aid dust control and the reduction of disease.

Whenever people inhale airborne dust at work, they are at risk of occupational disease. Year after year, both in developed and in developing countries, overexposure to dusts causes disease, temporary and permanent disabilities and deaths. Dusts in the workplace may also contaminate or reduce the quality of products, be the cause of fire and explosion, and damage the environment.

As a matter of social justice, human suffering related to work is unacceptable. Moreover, appreciable financial losses result from the burden of occupational and work related diseases on national health and social security systems, as well as from their negative influence on production and quality of products. All these adverse consequences, which are economically costly to employers and to society, are preventable through measures which have been known for a long time, and which are often of low cost.

The aim of this document is to help educate and train people in the prevention and control of dust in the workplace. It also aims at motivating employers and workers to collaborate with each other, in tandem with occupational health professionals, for the prevention of the adverse effects caused by dust in the workplace. Of course, dust is only one among the many workplace hazards, which include other aerosols (such as fumes and mists), gases and vapours, physical and biological agents, as well as ergonomic factors and psychosocial stresses.”


Safety Risk – https://safetyrisk.net/dangers-of-dust-in-the-workplace-and-how-to-handle-it/

Dangers of Dust in the Workplace and How To Handle It
March 8, 2013 by Dave Collins

Guest post

Dust is a very dangerous occupational health hazard to millions of workers out there. There are so many sources of dust and almost any manufacturing company produces dust of some form. Some of the most serious respiratory diseases as well as skin conditions contracted from the workplace can be attributed to dust. The dangers of dust can either be short term or long term.

Short Term Dangers
The immediate dangers of dust arise from the combustive nature of dust and the dust particles suspended in the air the worker breaths. They are few but can be severe enough to cause instant death or serious physical impairment. Here are some of the short term effects of dust:

Risks of injury as a result of explosion
Rarely a cloud of dust, which may be highly inflammable, explodes leading to serious fires. The blast produced by the explosion can give rise to projectile objects that can cause injury due to impact. Larger objects may cause death by hitting the worker while smaller ones may penetrate into the body and cause internal injuries.

Respiratory problems
The dust particles suspended in the air when small enough can be inhaled into the upper airways (the nose and the pharynx) causing blockage and lead to breathing difficulties. For those already suffering from respiratory problems such as asthma and pneumonia; dust can exacerbate the problem and cause acute attacks.

Skin problems
Dust may contain irritant chemicals such as those used to treat timber. If such dust settles on the skin, it can chemically react with skin causing itchiness, redness, scaling and dryness. Dust may also have corrosive effect leading to ulceration and breaching of the skin’s integrity.

Visual disturbances
Small dust particles may deposit in the eye and occlude the lens and also cause irritation of the eyes. This will manifest with excessive production of tears which is very uncomfortable.

Long – Term Dangers
These are the most common and the most severe dangers of dust in the work place. They take years to develop and at times it may be difficult to associate them with exposure to dust. Some may take as long as 50 years after exposure to manifest. Here are the common long term effects:

Asthma and pneumonia
These are airway diseases that cause difficulty in breathing. Asthma is caused by allergic reaction to allergens including dust particles. Pneumonia on the other hand is caused by deposition of dust particles in the lungs and encourages infection.

Lung cancer
This is the most dreaded long-term and the most severe danger associated with workplace dust. It may take too long to develop and this makes it very difficult to link to dust exposure. If not recognised early, it always leads to death.

Skin cancer
This is quite rare but can be very severe if it happens. Irritant dust contains carcinogenic chemicals that can cause skin cancer when it comes in contact with the skin.

How to Lower the Dangers
Most countries have laws or legislations that govern occupational exposure (Australia) and companies in which dust is produced are expected to adequately protect their workers from the effects of dust. As an employer, you are expected to try as much as possible to minimise the amount of dust expended from the workplace. Here are some of the ways you can ensure that dust is adequately dispersed:

Adequate ventilation
An exhaustion ventilation and/or diffusion ventilation can be used. The former removes localised dust as in a chamber while the latter ensures balanced dispersion of dust within an area where it cannot be totally eliminated.

Use of dust extractor or a vacuum
Most companies now use these services to rid the workplace of dust. Dust extraction equipment serves to clean off tiny dust particles by sucking them. They are especially important in cleaning off dust that might accumulate under the machinery, a situation that increases the risk of explosion.

Use of protective clothing
Workers should be provided with aprons, head covers, dust masks or ventilators that keep the dust away from coming into contact with the body.

Heath education and regular health check for the employees
Workers should be educated on the health effects of dust as some may disregard the protective clothing they are provided with. Regular check-up can recognise the effects early and allow for successful intervention.”


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

Hitching a Ride on Dust

Dust is not just made up of non-living elements – tiny microbes are catching a ride on dust particles and they are travelling the world!

Please click the links provided to read the full articles.

Hitching a Ride on Dust

Up in the Air: The Emerging Science of Dust and Sandstorm Microbes

Oxford Academic – GBE

Casey McGrath

On October 13, 2017, a sandstorm blew off the west coast of Africa, creating a plume of dust that stretched thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean and reached the Caribbean five days later. Each year, up to five billion tons of dust is ejected into the earth’s atmosphere, mostly from large deserts like the Sahara in Africa and the Gobi in Asia. Such dust plumes affect all regions of the planet, with some individual plumes even circling the globe.

In an expanding field of environmental microbiology, researchers have begun investigating the microscopic travelers that hitch rides on these dust plumes and transit the globe. Because of their origins in harsh desert climates, these bacteria, archaea, microbial eukaryotes (including fungi), and viruses may be especially good at surviving extreme conditions and adapting to new environments. As researchers in this emerging field, Hayedeh Behzad, Katsuhiko Mineta, and Takashi Gojobori of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia provide an overview of current knowledge and highlight the potential impacts on human and ecosystem health in a new review in Genome Biology and Evolution, “Global Ramifications of Dust and Sandstorm Microbiota” (Behzad et al. 2018). One thing that is clear is that, for a field of study still in its infancy, its potential ramifications are massive.

Behzad and colleagues detail several studies that indicate that dust and sandstorms may enable the spread of disease-causing microbes. For example, the fungal agents that cause valley fever can be found in desert soils, and epidemics in the southern United States appear to be correlated with the intensification of sandstorms (Tong et al. 2017). Perhaps more surprisingly, increased incidence of Kawasaki disease, a serious heart condition, in Japanese and U.S. children may be associated with a fungus found in winds originating from China (Rodo et al. 2014). Cases of measles (Ma et al. 2017), pulmonary tuberculosis (Wang et al. 2016), and influenza (Chen et al. 2010) may also be linked to the occurrence of dust and sandstorms. Finally, in a study suggesting just how far-reaching this phenomenon may be, several genetic sequences potentially belonging to meningitis pathogens were found in Saharan dust deposits within snow packs in the Swiss Alps (Meola et al. 2015).

As further detailed in the review by Behzad and colleagues, dust and sandstorm-derived microorganisms also have the potential to significantly affect the ecosystems to which these microbes are transported. Deposits of such microbes could impact the ecosystem services provided by microbial communities, affecting nutrient cycling and food chains. Notably, Saharan-derived dust samples in the Caribbean were found to contain Aspergillus sydowii, a fungus that infects corals and may be partially responsible for the declining health of the Caribbean coral reef (Garrison et al. 2003). In addition, pathogens carried by sandstorms may infect agricultural crops, with major implications for the global economy.

Teruya Maki at Kanazawa University in Japan, author of several studies on sandstorm-derived microbes, agrees with Behzad, Mineta, and Gojobori regarding the potential risks of these organisms: “Although the microbial communities associated with dust events are mainly composed of nonharmful populations…there is the possibility of pandemics [caused by] the spread of pathogens after the deposition of dust particles.” Maki, who discovered a link between Japanese outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease and Chinese sandstorms (Maki et al. 2012), believes the review by Behzad et al. provides important information regarding the potential risks of such microbes to the general public. However, Maki also points out that among dust and sandstorm microbes, there may be species that provide benefits to humans as well. As an example, Maki’s research team has made a fermented food called natto using bacteria isolated from the air at 3,000 m, which is currently sold under the name “Sky Natto” in Japan.

The potential impacts of dust and sandstorm microbes make research in this field critical. Located at KAUST and surrounded by some of the largest deserts in the world, Behzad, Mineta, and Gojobori are well situated to investigate these microorganisms using cutting-edge technology. “Our laboratory is examining the potential impact of sandstorms on human health and the environment using metagenomic approaches,” notes Behzad on behalf of all three of the authors, an endeavor made possible by the state-of-the-art facilities at KAUST. While the majority of the current knowledge on this topic is derived from culture-based approaches, such technology has the potential to shed light on the ∼90% of environmental microbes that cannot currently be cultured.

In addition to advances in metagenomics, the authors anticipate that future research will benefit from improvements in culturing techniques and air sample collection. In particular, Behzad notes, “I would hope that within a decade or two, we would have sufficient tools necessary to explore airborne microbiomes at all levels of the atmosphere, not just when deposited on the surface.” Most importantly, however, Behzad, Mineta, and Gojobori believe that the establishment of large-scale, multidisciplinary collaborations across different laboratories will be key for unraveling the mysteries of this global phenomenon. “Unification of standardized methodological frameworks across different laboratories could facilitate reproducibility and comparison of data between different research communities. Such unified frameworks require considerable investments of time and resources to develop and perfect, but when used by the wider research community, they could help complete gaps in our current understanding of sandstorm-derived microbiota.”

Importantly, Behzad et al. point out that the study of these microbes and their impacts is especially urgent given the predicted increase in dust and sandstorm-related activity in the future due to global climate change. The authors note that over the past two decades, the number and intensity of the sandstorms in the region surrounding KAUST have been on the rise. Thus, a better understanding of the risks and effects of desertification may help to develop control measures or protective policies. Microbes are “necessary building blocks of living ecosystems,” concludes Behzad. “Studying them helps us unlock their potential and understand their influence on us. Studies of airborne microbiota enable us to monitor our environment for potential risks to human and ecosystem health.”


“Traveling Dust

Science Net Links

It may surprise you that dust can travel this far, but it can. Using some NASA satellites, such as the Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer, scientists like Griffin can actually follow the path of dust clouds that form over the Sahara and cross the Atlantic Ocean.

How do these dust clouds make it across the sea? It seems that the same winds that push hurricanes across the Atlantic actually push the clouds of dust as well. It takes about 5-7 days for the dust clouds to move from the Sahara to the Caribbean and southeastern United States. But America doesn’t get hit from just Africa. It also gets dust from the Asian deserts. Once a cloud rolls off the coast of China, it takes about 9 days for it to move across the Pacific and arrive in the United States.

The dust clouds themselves are actually very large. In fact, they’re huge. They extend from the sea surface to as high as 10 kilometers. Griffin and his colleagues believe that the upper portions of the dust clouds serve to filter out UV light, which is lethal to microorganisms. As a result, the microbes at the lower levels are shielded from the light and survive the voyage. Scientists have found as many as 20-40 colonies of bacteria growing in some of these dust clouds. In addition to the bacteria, they also see virus-like particles that could infect plants and animals. According to the National Institutes of Health, airborne dust is a number one cause of respiratory stress worldwide, even without the microorganisms that are present in the dust clouds. So if it turns out that these microbes are able to cause diseases, that’s all the more reason to keep an eye on the levels of dust in the air.”


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

Dust could be good for you

Could dust really be good for you?  Have a look at this.


“Bad news, neat freaks: Dust could be good for you

Globe and Mail – click to read the original article


Bad news, neat freaks. All that work you’ve done to keep your homes dust-free may be counter-productive.

A new study has found that household dust actually purifies the air by neutralizing harmful ozone, according to The Canadian Press.

The gross part is it’s the flakes of human skin in dust that gives it its ozone-fighting power.

Researchers from the American Chemical Society found that dust containing high amounts of squalene, a component in human skin, can reduce up to 15 per cent of ozone in the air. (Ozone, when present in the air we breathe instead of high up in the atmosphere, is a pollutant that can damage our lungs, The Canadian Press explains.)

“Dust is parts of…people that have been in that room,” researcher Charles Weschler told The Canadian Press. “I mean, that’s a gross way of thinking about it.”

Squalene is present in the oils of our skin, which makes humans “remarkably good ozone sinks,” Dr. Weschler said.

Humans shed up to 500 million skin cells per day, so just think of all the ozone-neutralizing bits of your body that are scattered around your home.

The Canadian Press warns you may not want to retire your feather duster just yet, though.

Sure, it may clear up some of the ozone in the air, but the dust itself can leave allergy-sufferers wheezing.

What do you think? Does the thought of being surrounded by bits of skin make you want to clean your house more or less?”

Dust could be good for you

And here’s some more from Ask Doctor K …..

Is dust dangerous?

Ask Doctor K –

I keep a tidy house, but no matter how much I clean, there’s more dust than I’d like. Is dust dangerous to my family’s health?

Yes, depending on its contents, dust can be harmful to your health.

What is dust? It’s a little like sausage: You don’t want to know what’s in it. But I’ll tell you anyway.

More than half of household dust comes from soil either tracked into the home or wafting in as airborne particles through doors and windows. The remainder of dust is a hodgepodge that includes skin cells from family members, skin cells and fur from household pets, carpet fibers, kitchen grease — and more.

Household dust often contains remnants of household chemicals and possibly even heavy metals. It also contains bacteria, fungi and dust mite (insect) particles that can trigger allergies. In particular, the debris dust mites leave behind can provoke powerful allergic reactions.

The most vulnerable family members are the youngest: Infants are up to 100 times more susceptible to the health hazards of dust-borne pollutants than adults.

Perhaps the most effective way to control dust levels is with regular housekeeping. Frequent vacuuming, preferably using a vacuum cleaner with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, is a good place to start. It may be necessary to vacuum several times a week.

Cleaning can temporarily launch into the air dust that has settled on floors, carpets and furniture. People with respiratory allergies should consider wearing a mask that filters out dust when they clean. One way to capture the dust that gets stirred up is to clean higher surfaces first and then work your way down. Wiping floors and hard surfaces with a damp cloth or sponge will eliminate a lot of dust. You can also use products like Grab-it or Swiffer that are treated with chemicals to attract dust.

You should consider putting heavy-duty doormats in front of doorways to stem the amount of soil coming into your house. Even better: Remove your shoes upon coming inside.

Install weatherproofing around doors and windows to help keep out airborne particles. Filters on heating and air conditioning systems should reduce dust. Portable air cleaners with HEPA filters are another option. Air purifiers are a less effective option than HEPA filtration, and they may emit small amounts of ozone, a gas that can worsen asthma symptoms.

I’ve talked about how dust in the home can trigger allergies, so you’d think that dust is just plain bad. But it may not be that simple. New research indicates that newborns and very young children who grow up in relatively “dirty” surroundings, such as farms, may actually be protected against developing allergies and allergic diseases (such as asthma) later in life. I’m not urging you to keep a dusty home for the first few years of a child’s life, but someday you may hear that advice!”


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


The Science of Dust

We are so busy trying to get rid of dust but Pablo Picasso loved it……… and here’s why.

(To read the original article please go to Brain Pickings)

The Science of Dust

“The Science of Dust, Picasso’s Favorite Phenomenon

“With every breath, we inhale a bit of the story of our universe, our planet’s past and future…”


It takes more than three centuries for a one-foot layer of dust to accumulate. The entirety of the Roman Empire is buried nine feet underground — that is, under nine feet of tightly compacted dust. This household nuisance is indeed one of nature’s most humbling phenomena and Earth’s most steadfast preserver. Picasso was fascinated by it. In a passage from Hungarian photographer Brassaï’s 1964 gem Conversations with Picasso (public library) — which also gave us the iconic artist on success and not compromising and intuition and where ideas come from — Picasso marvels the news of an excavation in which archeologists preserved a cross-section more than ten feet high, containing multiple layers built over the millennia. When Brassaï notes how moving it is that “in a glance, you can take in thousands of years of history,” Picasso responds enthusiastically:

And you know what’s responsible? It’s dust! The earth doesn’t have a housekeeper to do the dusting. And the dust that falls on it every day remains there. Everything that’s come down to us from the past has been conserved by dust. Right here, look at these piles, in a few weeks a thick layer of dust has formed. On rue La Boétie, in some of my rooms … my things were already beginning to disappear, buried in dust. You know what? I always forbade everyone to clean my studios, dust them, not only for fear they would disturb my things, but especially because I always counted on the protection of dust. It’s my ally. I always let it settle where it likes. It’s like a layer of protection. When there’s dust missing here or there, it’s because someone has touched my things. I see immediately someone has been there. And it’s because I live constantly with dust, in dust, that I prefer to wear gray suits, the only color on which it leaves no trace.”


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

What your dust says about you

“Dust talks”, says Emily Anthes.  Have a read and see what it’s saying!


New Yorker

Our Dust, Ourselves

By – Emily Anthes

“Dust talks. That clump of gray fuzz hiding under the couch may look dull, but it contains multitudes: tiny errant crumbs of toast, microscopic fibres from a winter coat, fragments of dead leaves, dog dander, sidewalk grit, sloughed-off skin cells, grime-loving bacteria. “Each bit of dust is a microhistory of your life,” Rob Dunn, a biologist at North Carolina State University, told me recently. For the past four years, Dunn and two of his colleagues—Noah Fierer, a microbial ecologist at the University of Colorado Boulder, and Holly Menninger, the director of public science at N.C. State—have been deciphering these histories, investigating the microorganisms in our dust and how their lives are intertwined with our own.

The scientists began with a small pilot study, recruiting forty families in the Raleigh-Durham area to swab nine locations in their homes. When the researchers analyzed these cotton swabs and sequenced the fragments of bacterial DNA that they contained, they found that even the most sparkling houses were teeming with microbial squatters—more than two thousand distinct types, on average. Different rooms formed distinct ecological niches: kitchens were popular among the bacteria that grow on produce, whereas bedroom and bathroom surfaces were colonized by those that typically dwell on the skin. (In a troubling discovery, Dunn and his colleagues learned that, from a microbiological perspective, toilet seats and pillowcases look strikingly similar.)

In many ways, these findings were predictable. What the researchers had some difficulty making sense of was the variation that they observed between homes. “What, really, is determining what lives in your house versus my house?” Dunn asked. To answer that question, they expanded the study to a larger, more diverse set of homes—about eleven hundred in total, from across the continental United States—and asked volunteers to swab the trim around their interior doorways. “We focussed on that because nobody ever cleans it,” Fierer told me. “Or we don’t clean it very often—maybe you’re an exception.” (I am not.) To provide a point of comparison, each volunteer also collected dust from an exterior door and then mailed the samples to Fierer’s Colorado lab.

Fierer and his team isolated, amplified, and sequenced the DNA that was present in each sample, listing the types of bacteria and fungi that they found. The list soon grew long. “The diversity was just crazy,” Dunn said. In total, the indoor dust contained more than sixty-three thousand species of fungi and a hundred and sixteen thousand species of bacteria. For the fungi, location was king. Houses in eastern states had different fungal communities than those in western ones. Ditto homes in humid climates compared with those in dry ones. In fact, the geographic correlation was so strong that Dunn and Fierer have since shown, in a separate paper, that they can use fungal DNA to determine, to within about a hundred and fifty miles, where in the United States a dust sample originated. If scientists can narrow this geographic range—and Dunn expects that they can—it could prove a useful forensic tool. “Imagine you get a box from somewhere, it’s got something suspicious in it, and you want to be able to identify where that suspicious thing might have come from,” Dunn said. “This is actually a pretty easy way to do that.”

Bacterial communities, on the other hand, were shaped less by a home’s location than by its occupants. “We’re really the dominant sources—us and our pets are the dominant sources—of bacteria inside homes,” Fierer said. The fur factor loomed especially large. Dogs introduced unique drool and fecal microbes into a home and tracked in soil dwellers from outside. Cats also changed a home’s microbial makeup, but more modestly, perhaps because they are smaller and venture outside less often. By analyzing the bacterial DNA in dust, the researchers were able to predict whether a home contained a dog with ninety-two-per-cent accuracy and a cat with eighty-three-per-cent accuracy.

The sex of a home’s human occupants also played a role in shaping the indoor ecosystem. Lactobacillus_ _bacteria, which are a major component of the vaginal microbiome, were most abundant in homes in which women outnumbered men. When men were in the majority, however, different bacteria thrived: Roseburia, which normally lives in the gut, and Corynebacterium and Dermabacter, which both inhabit the skin. Corynebacterium is known to occupy the armpit and contribute to body odor. “Maybe it means that men’s houses smell more like armpits,” Dunn suggested. “That’s probably—microbially, that’s a fair assessment.” The findings may be due to sex differences in skin biology; men tend to have more Corynebacterium on their skin—and to shed more skin microbes into the environment—than women do. (In the paper, the researchers also acknowledge the possibility that a bachelor pad’s bacterial signature could be the result of “hygiene practices.”)

Most of our microscopic roommates are unlikely to present a real threat; many species of bacteria, scientists now know, are crucial partners in maintaining our health. “We’re surrounded by microbes all the time, and that’s not a bad thing,” Fierer said. In the next phase of their research, he and Dunn hope to identify connections between a home’s microscopic inhabitants and the health of its human ones. And there are likely to be more findings lurking in the dust that the volunteers already collected. How does the use of antimicrobial cleaning products alter a home’s profile? Is there a link between our genomes and the species that occupy our homes? There’s far more data than the scientists can analyze themselves, so they have posted it all online; members of the public can download the complete data set and hunt for new correlations and patterns. “We’ve just opened up this giant black box of what lives with us,” Dunn said. “In the last twelve thousand years, we all moved from being in houses that were more or less open to the environment to closed-up houses. And yet all of the indications we get are that they’re still full of life.” Even in the smallest studio apartment, we’re never truly alone.”


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