Here at Hughes Environmental we deal with dust every day, where it ranges from cleaning commercial ducts to combustible dust remediation. We’ve encountered dust created by all types of materials and manufacturing processes, and know that there is more to dust than most people think. For instance, did you know that certain metals can explode when they are turned into a dust?
Here are 15 more interesting facts about dust:
People have been trying to get rid of household dust for ages, and the first vacuum cleaner was invented in 1901. This vacuum was so large it was horse drawn, had to be parked outside, and ran on gasoline.
The average person creates 1/3 ounce of dead skin each week, which is about the weight of a car key. This dead skin combines with other particles to create household dust.
While that 1/3 ounce doesn’t seem like much, the average home in the United States collects 40 pounds of dust each year.
A commonly quoted statistic is that 80% of dust is made up of dead skin, but that’s actually a pretty small percentage. Dust in houses and offices is made up of a combination of pollen, hair, textile fibers, paper fibers, soil minerals, cosmic dust particles, and various other materials found in the local environment.
Many people claim to be allergic to dust, but in many cases they are actually having an allergic reaction to dust mites. These mites eat the dead skin and their dead bodies and fecal matter cause allergic reactions in people. Up to 500 dust mites can survive on just 1 gram of dust.
Depending on how small the particle is, dust is capable of staying suspended in the air for up to 5 days.
The Sahara desert is the largest source of dust in the entire world, and 770 million tons of dust from this desert blows across the Atlantic Ocean to South America, where it fertilizes the Ocean and the Amazon rainforest.
While the Sahara is the largest source of atmospheric dust, an estimated 5 billion tons of dust is transmitted through the atmosphere each year. This dust can affect air temperatures, ground cooling, and rainfall levels, and is monitored closely by NASA.
This airborne dust also helps to create a cloud condensation nucleus that allows water droplets to form in clouds. When these water droplets get heavy enough, they fall to the ground as rain. Inside every raindrop is a piece of dust! The same goes for snowflakes.
Each year the Earth gains about 40,000 tons of cosmic dust that falls on it from space in the form of micrometeorites.
The typical human hair is 100 microns in diameter, but big particles of dust are 2.5 to 10 microns wide. Dust 2.5 microns or smaller is able to get stuck in the lungs and cause a wide variety of health issues.
An amount of dust just the weight of a dime is enough to create carcinogenic levels in a room 10 ft x 10 ft by 8 ft tall based on OSHA allowances.
Dust particles have been used in forensics to solve crimes, with the earliest use of this technique dating back to the early 1900s.
Dust is responsible for beautiful sunrises and sunsets, as the dust in the atmosphere absorbs blue and green colors but allows the orange and red colors through. This creates the colors that we see during a sunrise or sunset.
The dust of different chemicals or metals is used to create the colorful explosions found in fireworks. Many of these elements will only combust when found as a dust.