Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Household activities release a cloud of dust, increasing exposure to particulate pollution

10.03.2004


Ordinary household activities, from dusting to dancing, can increase your exposure to particulate pollution, according to a new study. Whether you are cutting the rug or just vacuuming it, you may be inhaling tiny dust particles that could be harmful to your health.



The report, which quantifies some common indoor activities, appears in the March 15 edition of Environmental Science & Technology, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society.

Particles can accumulate in the respiratory system and aggravate health problems like asthma. Homes are filled with these particles, which often come from outdoors, cooking, smoking, heating equipment and, according to the study, dust kicked up from human activities.


"I measured concentrations of airborne particles continuously while performing a variety of normal human activities that resuspend house dust in the home," says Andrea Ferro, Ph.D., a professor of engineering at Clarkson University in Potsdam, N.Y. She did the work as part of her dissertation research at Stanford University.

Ferro and her coworkers placed particle detectors in a house in Redwood City, Calif., and then they folded clothes, dusted, made beds, vacuumed and did other everyday activities — not to mention some less common ones, like dancing. They applied a mathematical model to estimate the strength of each source.

Dusting, of course, kicked up a significant amount of particles, but it wasn’t the biggest contributor. "The highest source was from two people just walking around and sitting on furniture," Ferro says. This released particles at a rate of almost two milligrams per minute - about half as much as smoking a cigarette.

Dancing on a rug emitted as many particles as dusting, which wasn’t too surprising, Ferro says, since dancing is a vigorous activity. "The source strengths depended on the number of persons performing the activity, the vigor of the activity, the type of activity and the type of flooring," she says. Dancing on a wooden floor was near the bottom of the list.

Not only did Ferro design the study, but she also performed the activities. What kind of dance did she do? "Probably best described as solo salsa," she says. "Luckily, I did not take any videotape."

Vacuuming was also a large source of particles. Vacuum brushes release deeply embedded particles from the carpet; the motor produces additional particles; and the bags are not 100 percent efficient in collecting particles, Ferro says. Only one type of vacuum was tested; different cleaners could produce different results, depending on the design.

"The result that was most surprising to me was that just walking around can resuspend almost as much dust as vacuuming," Ferro says.

The majority of the particles were larger than five micrometers in diameter, but smaller particles still played a significant role. "Smaller particles tend to deposit deeper in the lungs than the larger particles, potentially causing more harm," Ferro says. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency classifies these as "fine particles," which have been associated with increased respiratory disease, decreased lung functioning and even premature death.

The results could help people make a variety of decisions about living in their homes. "One study estimates that about two-thirds of house dust is tracked in from outdoors," Ferro says. "Therefore, leaving shoes at the door can make a big difference in reducing the particle reservoir on the floor." She also recommends leaving windows open while cleaning to increase ventilation; limiting the use of toxic household products, like pesticides; and installing non-carpet flooring.

Ferro has since performed another study in a different home, with similar results. "My focus now is to determine the actual mechanisms for resuspension from human activity and perform the work in an indoor air chamber where I can control more of the variables," she says.

Michael Bernstein | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.clarkson.edu/news/releases/rel.cgi?ferro_indoor_air_090-03.rel
http://www.acs.org/

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Real-time feedback helps save energy and water
08.02.2017 | Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg

nachricht The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Organ-on-a-chip mimics heart's biomechanical properties

23.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

Light-driven reaction converts carbon dioxide into fuel

23.02.2017 | Life Sciences

Oil and gas wastewater spills alter microbes in West Virginia waters

23.02.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>