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Dust is a general name for solid particles with diameters less than 20 thou (500 micrometres). Particles in the atmosphere arise from various sources such as soil dust lifted up by wind, volcanic eruptions, and pollution. Dust in homes, offices, and other human environments contains small amounts of plant pollen, human and animal hairs, textile fibers, paper fibres, minerals from outdoor soil, and many other materials which may be found in the local environment.[1]

Domestic dust and humans

File:Laptop dust.jpg
Three years of use without cleaning has caused this laptop heat sink to become clogged with dust, rendering the computer unusable due to possibility of overheating.

Insects and other small fauna found in houses subtly interact with dust and may have adverse impact on the health of humans[citation needed].

Dust may worsen hay fever. Circulating outdoor air through a house by keeping doors and windows open, or at least slightly ajar, may reduce the risk of hay fever-causing dust. In colder climates, occupants seal even the smallest air gaps, and eliminate outside fresh air circulating inside the house. So it is essential to manage dust and airflow.[citation needed].

House dust mites exist on all indoor surfaces and even suspended in the air. They feed on minute particles of organic matter, the main constituent of house dust. Dust mites flourish in the fibers of bedding, furniture, and carpets. They excrete enzymes to digest the organic particles, and excrete feces, that together become part of the house dust, and may irritate allergies.[2]

Alternately, the hygiene hypothesis posits that the modern obsession with cleanliness is as much a problem as house dust mites. The hygiene hypothesis argues that our lack of prior pathogenic exposure may in fact encourage the development of ailments including hay fever and asthma.[3][4]

Atmospheric dust

File:Dust storm over Libya.jpg
Large dust storm over Libya.

Airborne dust is considered an aerosol and can have a strong local radiative forcing on the atmosphere and significant effects on climate. In addition, if enough minute particles are dispersed within the air in a given area (such as flour or coal dust), under certain circumstances can cause an explosion hazard.

Coal dust is responsible for the lung disease known as Pneumoconiosis, including black lung disease, that occurs among coal miners. The danger of coal dust resulted in environmental legislation regulating work place air quality in some jurisdictions.

Road dust

Dust kicked up by vehicles traveling on roads,[5] may make up 33% of air pollution[6] Road dust consists of deposition of vehicle exhausts and industrial exhausts, tire and brake wears, dust from paved roads or potholes, and dust from construction sites.[7] Road dust represents a significant source contributing to the generation and release of particulate matter into the atmosphere.[8] Control of road dust is a significant challenge in urban areas, and also in other spheres with high levels of vehicular traffic upon unsealed roads such as mines and garbage dumps. Road dust may be suppressed by mechanical methods like sweeping vehicles,[9] with vegetable oils,[10] or with water sprayers.

Dust control

Control of atmospheric dust

The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandates facilities that generate dust minimize or mitigate the production of dust in their operation. The most frequent dust control violations occur at new residential housing developments in urban areas. United States Federal law requires that construction sites obtain permits to conduct earth moving, and include plans to control dust emissions. Control measures include such simple practices as spraying construction and demolition sites with water, and preventing the tracking of dust onto adjacent roads. US federal laws require dust control on sources such as vacant lots, unpaved parking lots, and unpaved roads. Dust in such places may be suppressed by mechanical methods[citation needed], including paving or laying down gravel, or stabilizing the surface with water, vegetable oils[10] or other dust suppressants, or by using water misters to suppress dust that is already airborne[citation needed].

Control of domestic dust

Dust control is the suppression of solid particles with diameters less than 500 micrometers. Dust in the airstream poses a serious health threat to children,[11] older people, and those with respiratory illnesses. House dust can become airborne easily. Care should be exercised when removing dust to avoid causing the dust to become airborne. Some dust removing devices trap some dust. One way to repel dust is with an electrical charge[citation needed]. Water-trap vacuums such as the Rainbow, eliminate the risk of broadcasting dust by drowning the dust particles in water. Dust subsequently cannot escape the container to fly back into the air.

Control of dust resistance on surfaces

A dust resistant surface is a state of prevention against dust contamination or damage, by a design or treatment of materials and items in manufacturing or through a repair process. A reduced tacticity of a synthetic layer or covering can protect surfaces and release small molecules that could have remained attached. A panel, container or enclosure with seams may feature types of strengthened rigidity or sealant to vulnerable edges and joins.

Dust in other contexts

Dust in outer space

Cosmic dust is widely present in space, where gas and dust clouds are primary precursors for planetary systems. The zodiacal light seen in the dark night sky, is produced by sunlight reflected from particles of dust in orbit around the Sun. The tails of comets are produced by emissions of dust and ionized gas from the body of the comet. Dust also covers solid planetary bodies, and vast dust storms occur on Mars that cover almost the entire planet. Interstellar dust is found between the stars, and high concentrations produce diffuse nebulae and reflection nebulae.

Dust is widely present in the galaxy. Ambient radiation heats dust and re-emits radiation into the microwave band, which may distort the cosmic microwave background power spectrum. Dust in this regime has a complicated emission spectrum, and includes both thermal dust emission and spinning dust emission.[12]

Dust samples returned from outer space may provide information about conditions in the early solar system. Several spacecraft have sought to gather samples of dust and other materials. Among these craft was Stardust, which flew past Comet Wild 2 in 2004, and returned a capsule of the comet's remains to Earth in January 2006. The Japanese Hayabusa spacecraft is on a mission to collect samples of dust from the surface of an asteroid.

Art and entertainment

Stippling and airbrushing are fine art techniques that can create dust. In video games, a particle system is usually used.


See also


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External links

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  1. Kathleen Hess-Kosa, (2002), Indoor Air Quality: sampling methodologies, page 216. CRC Press.
  2. Abadi, Sara (August 2009). "The Great American Hygiene Survey Results Revealed". AOL Health. Retrieved August 2009.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  3. http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=416594
  4. http://healthlink.mcw.edu/article/1031002421.html
  5. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/11/991130062843.htm
  6. http://www.hinduonnet.com/2007/10/27/stories/2007102759600100.htm
  7. http://www.cleanair.hamilton.ca/events/street-sweeping-study.asp
  8. http://www.ec.gc.ca/pdb/npri/consultations/2006/Road_Dust_e.cfm
  9. http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpls/abs_all.jsp?arnumber=936477
  10. 10.0 10.1 http://www.usroads.com/journals/rmej/9806/rm980604.htm
  11. "Dust mites in the humid atmosphere of Bangalore trigger around 60% of asthma" [1]
  12. D. P. Finkbeiner, M. Davis and D. J. Schlegel (1999). "Extrapolation of Galactic Dust Emission at 100 Microns to CMBR Frequencies Using FIRAS". Astrophys. J. 524: 867. doi:10.1086/307852.  arXiv:astro-ph/9905128