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Do Air Purifiers Reduce Dust?

There a great many things that are a fact of life, and some of those facts are unfortunate. Dust is one of those things. It seems like no matter how hard you try to combat it, dust just keeps on coming back. You can literally wipe something down, turn around, and BAM! – that surface you just cleaned seems to be coated with another layer of dust. While it’s true that there are many factors that impact the amount and the type of dust in your home, including the climate you live in, the size of your household, whether or not you have pets, the activities that take place inside your home, and ventilation, all indoor spaces, regardless of the aforementioned factors, are constantly attacked by dust. It really is a never-ending battle.

Dust not only negatively impacts the aesthetic appeal and comfort of your home, but it can also negatively impact the health and well-being of anyone who resides in or visits your house. That’s because dust particles are airborne and reduce indoor air quality, and breathing in dust-filled air can pose a number of adverse health effects. If you’re looking for a way to combat the dust in your home, regular cleaning is, of course, an absolute must; however, you might be wondering if there are any devices that can help you fight the battle against dust. An air purifier may be the device that you’re wondering about.

Why should combating dust be a priority? How does an air purifier work? Will this device actually help to reduce dust levels in your house? Read on to find the answers to these questions and more.

Why is Dust Control Important?

Other than wiping it down and getting frustrated because it seems like no matter how much you try, it comes back almost immediately, you probably don’t give dust a whole lot of thought. However, in order to win the battle against dust, it’s important to understand what dust is made of and why keeping it to a minimum is essential.

What is dust made of and where does it come from?

While dust seemingly comes out of nowhere and often appears on surfaces almost immediately after you clean them, it actually does originate from somewhere and it is always around you. Essentially, dust is made up of a combination of small particles that originate both outdoors and indoors. Those particles are dry and are lighter than air; hence, they are airborne. As they float through the air, they eventually come into contact with surfaces, and land on top of them, which is why it seems like no matter how frequently you clean, dust returns almost immediately.

According to Paloma Beamer, a University of Arizona professor of environmental policy, dust is a mixture of an assortment of things; in fact, Beamer said that dust is comprised of so many different things that it would be virtually impossible to create a comprehensive list of all of them. In a study that Beamer conducted, the professor found that the particles that dust is made up of varies from household to household and depends on several factors, such as the geographic location, climate, age, number of people who reside within, and the type of activities that take place inside a house. With that said, however, the study determined that most household dust – approximately 60 percent – is made up of particles that originate outside and make their way inside via doors, windows, ventilation, and even on clothing and the bottom of shoes.

 While, as Beamer said, it would be impossible to list all of the items that dust is made of, there are many elements that are consistent in the dust that is found in most households. These elements include:

  • Pollen and soil. Dust contains a large amount of pollen and soil particles; particularly in the spring and fall.
  • Outdoor pollution. Indoor dust is also made up of particles that are created as a result of outdoor pollution, such as diesel fuel exhaust.
  • Mold and mildew spores. Mold and mildew are fungi that release spores, and those spores travel through the air, including inside your house.
  • Dead skin cells. Skin is constantly regenerating itself. The dead cells sloth off and become dust particles.
  • Pet dander. Just like humans, animal skin constantly regenerates, and as it does, the dead cells are shed and become dust particles.
  • Dust mites. It might sound gross, but it’s true! Dust mites are microscopic arachnids that feed on dead skin cells, and as they do, they release their droppings. Dust contains both the microscopic creatures and their droppings.
  • Textile fibers. Fibers from the carpets, bedding, clothing, rugs, and other types of linens break down and as they do, they become lighter than air and turn into dust.
  • Food debris. When you eat or prepare food, small pieces of food can become ground up, dry up, and turn into dust.

The Effects of Dust

Dust can cause a lot of issues. Not only does the accumulation of those small particles impact the aesthetic appeal of the interior of your home, and just make it feel dirty, dingy, uncomfortable, and unwelcoming, but even more problematic, it can have adverse effects on your overall health and well-being. Examples of the health issues that can occur as a result of dust exposure include:

  • Allergies. If you or anyone in your home is allergic to dust, the symptoms cause by the allergy can be aggravated; for example, sneezing, congestion, runny nose, watery, itchy, irritated eyes, coughing, and a sore, dry throat can occur.
  • Aggravated respiratory conditions. Pre-existing respiratory conditions, such as COPD and asthma, can be aggravated as a result of dust exposure; for instance, wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath can increase.
  • Increased risk of illness. Dust is a fomite, an inanimate object that can become contaminated with infectious materials, such as colds and flus, and can spread those infectious materials to you and anyone within your household.
  • Cognitive development issues. Believe it or not, exposure to dust can actually interfere with brain development. If the dust in your home contains Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), which are compounds that are used as flame retardants to reduce flammability on many common household items, such as textiles, furnishings, rugs, and carpeting, and exposure to these materials can impede the development of the hormone system that lies within the brain.

The Effects of Dust on Indoor Air Quality

Believe it or not, indoor air is up to 5 times more polluted than outdoor air, and one of the factors that contributes to indoor air pollution is dust. The small particles that dust is comprised of are airborne, and as such, they reduce the quality of the indoor air. Since it is in the air all around you, you’re constantly inhaling those dust particles; hence why exposure to dust can cause so many adverse health effects.

How to Combat Dust

Given all of the different types of particles that dust is made of and the negative impact that dust can have on your health and well-being, it goes without saying that you want to try to keep it under control as much you possibly can. While you may not be able to completely eliminated it, the following tips can help to reduce dust levels in your home:

  • Dust with a  damp cloth. Use a damp, clean, soft cloth to dust surfaces in your house. The moisture will trap dust particles within the fibers of the cloth, thereby preventing it from being released back into the air and resettling on surfaces.
  • Clean from top to bottom. Make sure that you work from top to bottom when you’re cleaning. Start near the ceiling and work your way down to the floor. As you clean, particles of dust fall, and thus, when you clean from top to bottom, you’ll be able to tackle the particles that fell from the upper surfaces down to the lower ones.
  • Clean the floors. Cleaning the floors on a regular basis is also a must. Make sure that you sweep and dry or wet mop hard-surfaced floors, such as wood and tile, and vacuum carpets and rugs. Make sure you clean any stairs within your house, too.
  • Change linens regularly. Make sure that you change your linens on a frequent basis. This includes your sheets, blankets, comforters, and even tablecloths and pet bedding. Doing so will help to eliminate the amount of dead skin cells, dander, food particles, and dust mites in your home.

Will An Air Purifier Help?

You might be wondering if an air purifier will help to reduce the amount of dust in your home. The answer to this is complex, but in short, yes, the majority of air purifiers can help to eliminate dust. That’s because they are specially designed to remove large particles of dust from the air. Most models are outfitted with mechanical filtration, which is a special type of filtration that traps airborne pollutants on a filter. The particles that dust is made of can either stick to or be trapped within the fibers of the filter.

There are several different types of mechanical filters that are used in air purifiers; however, no matter the type, they are either flat, similar to a furnace filter that you would use in your home’s HVAC system, or they can be pleated, such as a HEPA filter. Flat filters can also be electrostatically charged, which increases the “stickiness” of the fibers, thus it attracts and traps more particles.

What Makes a Good Air Purifier for Dust?

In order for air purifiers to be effective at combating airborne dust particles, they need to feature filtration that can capture particles that range in size from 2.5 and 10 micrometers, as this is the range of size of dust particles.

HEPA filters are a good choice for cutting back on dust in your home, because they can trap up to 99.97 percent of miniscule airborne particles. Another type of air purifier that can help to reduce the levels of dust in your home is an electrostatic air or an ionizing air purifier. These devices generate an electric charge and transfer that charge to particles in the air, and then either capture those particles on metal plates within the device, or have them settle on the surfaces that are within close proximity to the air purifier. For the best results, opt for the former model; the one that collects airborne particles on plates that are located within the device. With the latter, you’ll need to clean up the particles that collect on exterior surfaces, such as floors, walls, or ledges, and you could potentially miss those particles, which, instead of decreasing the amount of dust in your home, could actually increase it.

When you’re shopping for an air purifier, you may come across models that are advertised as “ozone generators”. These devices are intended to remove airborne particles; however, they can also expel ozone into the air, which can be very harmful to your health.

The Best Dust Removal Air Purifiers

When used in combination with the tips mentioned above for combating dust, an air purifier can have a significant impact on the level of dust reduction in your home. With that said, however, to achieve the best results possible, you’re going to want to use the best air purifier possible. So, what type of air purifier should you use? One that features a mechanical filter, such as HEPA, is an effective way to remove dust particles from your home’s indoor air; however, there is a chance that these models could introduce mold and/or bacteria into your home, as these elements can grow within the filter, and thus, they can be released back into the air. Additionally, you have to keep tabs on the filter and change it out as soon as it becomes saturated, otherwise the air purifier not only becomes useless, but it can actually cause more harm than good.

In regard to ionizers or electrostatic filters, while they may be effective in some situations, your best bet it to avoid using them. While they may be able to trap dust particles, they can introduce another type of pollutant: ozone. As such, using this type of air purifier can actually end up causing worse conditions than you started out with.

There is another type of air purification technology that you may want to consider trying that, in our opinion, yields the best results: Photo Electrochemical Oxidation (PECO). This cutting-edge technology destroys airborne pollutants, such as allergens, mold spores, mildew spores, and even volatile organic compounds (VOCs), as they pass through the appliance. As a result, you’ll be able to enjoy much cleaner, fresher air.

Don’t Forget Regular Mold Inspections!

While the tips discussed above – including the use of an air purifier – can certainly help to reduce the amount of dust in your home, there’s something else that you can do to make sure that your home’s indoor air quality is as health as possible: regular mold inspections. Mold spores are known to be one of the most common compounds found within dust. Unfortunately, mold often grows completely unbeknownst to the homeowner, and if that’s the case in your home, you and your loved ones could potentially breathe in those spores, which can cause a number of serious health complications.

By scheduling an appointment to have your house tested for mold by a reputable professional on a regular basis, you’ll be able to help reduce the amount of dust in your home, and will breathe a whole lot easier. At Mold Inspection and Testing (MI&T), our licensed, certified, and insured technicians use the most advanced tools, cutting-edge technologies, and proven techniques and strategies to collect air and surface samples. The samples are tested for mold at trusted facilities. The results of those studies are then shared with you, the homeowner, and if mold spores are present, we’ll make recommendations that you can use to combat the mold growth in your home.