Healthy Living

Dust Bunnies Wreak Havoc on Your Health! Here’s How

You’ve just finished your annual spring cleaning, and then it happens … you move a book or a piece of furniture and are accosted by dust bunnies! These unsightly little dust monsters are the bane of every clean home, and can often be difficult to eliminate. But, did you know that in addition to being ugly little things, the dust bunnies in your home can actually have a negative effect on your health?

Toxic Dust Bunnies

We all try our best to make our homes a safe and clean environment, but unless your home is hermetically sealed, there will always be minute amounts of contaminants that make their way into our homes, either carried by our shoes or through small cracks in the doors or windows. Products inside your home can “shed” chemicals as well, due to age or constant use.

Believe it or not, the dust bunnies in your home aren’t just harboring dust — they can also be home to a variety of toxic chemicals. Fire retardants, cleaning solutions, pesticides, and even lead from old paint can find its way into your household dust bunnies.

One recently conducted study found as many as 66 endocrine-disrupting materials and compounds in household dust.

In addition to problems with the endocrine system, constant exposure to dust and other pollutants is bad for your lungs. If you or anyone in your family suffers from respiratory disorders such asthma or COPD, they may find their symptoms worsening due to exposure to the dust in your home. Even healthy individuals may experience shortness of breath due to the introduction of dust into the lungs, which causes the airways to constrict.

Children are more at risk due to their smaller bodies and weaker immune systems.

While this all may sound dire, there are steps you can take to minimize the impact of any dust bunnies in your home and even keep them from developing their toxic traits.

Dusty Culprits

Where are the worst dust bunny warrens in your house? The most common places to find these little monsters include:

  • Computers and other electronics — Not only are these electric toys dust magnets, but they also tend to be the biggest source of flame retardant chemicals.
  • Knickknacks and cabinets — Little trinkets that don’t get moved very often are a haven for dust and dust bunnies.
  • A/C vents — Vents catch and collect dust that gets blown into the air every time your A/C unit turns on.
  • Ceiling fans — No one really looks at their ceiling fan blades, but even if you have your fans on 24/7, they still collect dust.

Go ahead and take a look at some of the places we’ve mentioned. Go on, we’ll wait.

Now that you’re back and probably wincing at the dust bunnies you’ve just discovered, we’ve got a few tricks and techniques to help you take out those dusty monstrosities.

Super Duster

If you’re like a lot of us, dusting is probably your least favorite chore. Wiping trinkets and ceiling fan blades down with a damp cloth might seem like a horrible way to spend an afternoon, but it can make an enormous difference in the number of dust bunnies in your home.

Some other tricks you should consider when tackling the dust bunny menace include:

  • High Quality Filters — Install high-quality HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters in your home’s AC system, and invest in a vacuum that utilizes HEPA filters as well. These filters can remove anything larger than 0.3 microns from the air, which includes dust, mold, pet dander, pollen and even some bacteria. Utilizing these filters and replacing them regularly will limit the amount of airborne dust in your home, reducing the development of dust bunnies.
  • Pick Up, Don’t Push Around — Feather dusters might be fun to play with, but they won’t help solve your dust problem, since they just push the dust and toxic particles around. Swiffer dusters can be useful in a pinch, but they’re not exactly environmentally friendly, because they’re disposable. Instead, invest in a set of good microfiber dusters. They collect and trap dust, and can be easily removed, washed and reused.
  • Wet, not Dry — Running a dry mop over your floors might seem like a quick and easy way to keep your floor dust-free, but all you’re really doing is kicking a lot of that dust back into the air to settle back on the floor as soon as you hang up your mop. Instead, run a wet mop over your floors that don’t have carpet, and utilize that vacuum with the HEPA filters we mentioned above on carpeted areas.
  • Leave It Outside — One of the biggest sources of toxic dust is what we track in on our shoes.  Consider leaving your shoes outside when you come home. If being barefoot doesn’t appeal to you, keep a pair of slippers or house shoes next to your door for when you come inside.

It doesn’t take dramatic changes to reduce the amount of dust in your home, as you can see. A few simple steps during your normal household cleaning routine can make a big difference.

Dust in the Cabinets

It’s tempting to keep the medications you take every day out on your nightstand or some other open area. While it does make them easy to see and get to, which is useful if you’re forgetful, it puts you at risk as well.

Like any other surface in your home, your medicines, pill bottles and pill boxes are dust magnets, and with that dust comes the toxic tagalongs.

The best preventative measure to take, if you do have to leave your medications in an easily accessible place is to invest in a good dust cover to keep everything clean and safe.

Where there are humans, there will inevitably be dust, but that doesn’t mean you need to let dust bunnies and their toxic particle companions take over your home. By following the steps we’ve listed above, you can easily make your home a healthier place. It seems like a pretty easy choice: breathe toxic dust bunnies, or change up your cleaning routine a little bit. What’s stopping you?

About the author

Megan Ray Nichols

Megan Ray Nichols

Megan Ray Nichols is the editor of Schooled By Science and a part time science writer. She’s a regular contributor to David Reneke’s World of Space and True Luxury Life. When she isn’t writing Megan enjoys stargazing with her family. Follow her on Twitter or subscribe to her blog here.

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