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Hazzards: Reduce exposure to dust in your home this harmattan

Many homes fall short of the basic requirements of a healthy home and contain one or more hazards that adversely affect human health. Among the health hazards we may encounter in our homes are those that cause and contribute to asthma (such as dust allergens, mold, and pests), toxic materials (such as lead, asbestos, and chemical pesticides), and poisonous gases (such as carbon monoxide and radon).

Exposure to dust inside homes can have adverse health outcomes, such as respiratory problems, asthma, allergic reactions, and lead poisoning (if the dust contains lead). Dust comes from two sources. First, dirt and dust can be carried in from outside on shoes or blown in through windows and doors. Second, there are indoor sources of dust, particularly dust mites.

While it is impossible to have a dust-free home, it is possible to live in a home that minimizes dust that is carried in from the outside and to avoid conditions that can promote allergens in dust.

These simple measures will help to reduce the dust in your home.

* Because nearly two-thirds of the dust in our homes is tracked in from outdoors, one key strategy is to build and maintain homes that help occupants track off dust before it is carried inside. Simple steps such as using a mat at the entryway of a home, building steps or using grates to scrape dirt off shoes, and encouraging residents to remove shoes inside will all make a difference.

* Use materials that are easy to clean. Dust is easily removed from smooth and cleanable surfaces (smooth flooring such as wood, tile, linoleum, and vinyl) through vacuuming and mopping.

* Use a vacuum cleaner with high filtration features.

* Carpets are generally more difficult to vacuum effectively than hard surfaces. But among carpets, short- and closed-loop-pile carpets (such as commercial grade carpet) are typically easier to clean than loose-pile carpets, which allow dust and dirt to fall through to the underlying material.

* Keep dust mites under control. Dust mites contribute to dust problems, so taking precautions against them can also help reduce exposure.


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