The Windows Are Closed -- So Where Do
the Dust Balls Come From?
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January 11, 2018
By Susan Callahan, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist


It's one of the enduring mysteries of life.  All of the
windows to your home are closed. You  clean everything to
a shine, even the TV stand and the glass table. Yet, within
days, everything is again covered with a layer of dust.
Where does all the dust come from? And why do those
dust balls on the floor appear out of nowhere?  

Dust Appears Even Inside of the Space Ships

To deepen the mystery even more, dust balls even appear
inside space ships. Clearly, the windows of the space ships
are sealed tight. So, again, how can dust appear even here,
inside a space ship protected from the vast, black
emptiness of outer space? Ground Control to Major Tom...
Houston can you send up some Windex?

Scientists have actually studied the dust from the vacuum
bags of the International Space Station. They found that,
compared with the contents of vacuum bags from "clean
rooms" on Earth, " Actinobacteria, a type of bacteria
associated with human skin, made up a larger proportion of
the microbial community in the ISS [International Space
Station] than in the cleanrooms, which the authors
conclude could be due to the more stringent cleaning
regimes possible on Earth."

Which brings us close to solving the mystery of the source
of the dust that mysteriously appears in your home even if
the windows are closed.

Your "Body Dandruff" Is the Source of Dust Balls

































You shed than you think. You are constantly shedding the
outer layer of your skin. The shedding usually is not
noticed, except on your scalp, where it appears as
dandruff. Your "body dandruff" sheds at a rate of 0.001 –
0.003 ounces of skin flakes every hour, meaning that your
entire outer layer of skin replaces itself about every two
weeks, according to a study from the American Chemical
Society’s journal, Environmental Science & Technology.


Does Your Body Dandruff Make Indoor Pollution Worse?

Does dust accumulating inside your home make it harder to
breathe? Intuitively, we would say yes, since having more
dust would make it harder to breathe. But the study from
the American Chemical Society makes a surprising claim ---
skin dandruff actually helps to remove indoor air pollution.

Each flake of your skin that is shed as body dandruff
contains oils including cholesterol and acompound called
"squalene".

The squalene oil helps to reduce the levels of ozone in
airplane cabins, ozone which would otherwise would
irritate our eyes and throats and contribute to asthma.


In airplane cabins, human skin squalene reduces ozone
levels by up to 50%.

In our homes, human skin squalene reduces ozone levels
by 2 to 15%, according to a study from Denmark. The
study looked at ozone levels in 500 bedrooms and 150 day
care centers in Odensk, Denmark.

But other studies have found that our skin flakes actually
make indoor pollution worse. A study led by Dr. Charles
Weschler of the Environmental and Occupational Health
Institute in New Jersey disocvered that when ozone
interacts with the oils in our skin indoors, the combiation
produces dangerous compounds.

One such compound is "4-oxopentanal, or 4-OPA". This
compound has a structure very close to "diacetyl". You may
have heard of diacetyl, as the
flavoring used in microwave
popcorn which is blamed for lung cancer
among workers in
microwave popcorn factories.



Ozone May Cook the Oils in Our Skins When We Are in
Offices, Causing " Sick Building Syndrome"


For years, people have insisted that certain office buildings  
make them sick. Irritation of eyes,nose, throat and skin are
common complaints. A range of respiratory and other
illnesses including asthma have been reported and
investigated by the Environmental Protection Agencies and
universities.

Scientists now have begun to suspect that squalene from
skin dandruff plus ozone play a role. When ozone enters an
office building, and interacts with our skin, it can release
various chemical compounds, as we have seen.  When
ozone levels rise outside, the number of people complaining
that their office buildings make them sick increase
dramatically.

If you have a standard office of just under 30 cubic meters
at a temperature of 23 degrees Celsius with no people in it,
ozone enters through the vents and the levels of 4-OPA,
the chemical similar to the diacetyl that causes cancer in
microwave popcorn factories, rises to two parts per billion
in just 4 hours.

Add just one human being to the room and ozone levels fall
by 25%, according to a 2009 study from American
scientists at the Technical University of Denmark in
Copenhagen.


Dust Balls in Our Homes Are Good Reminders That Our
Squalene Levels Are Goo
d


To protect our lungs from ozone, it is best to lower the
levels of ozone that enter our homes in the first place. A
simple carbon filter in your HVAC system can help.

Failing that, your only protection against ozone is the
squalene in your skin. So, the next time you see those
pesky dust balls in the corner of a room, smile, and  your
skin dandruff for protecting your lungs.















































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