The Dust We Breathe
A normal adult breathes in around 66 lbs. of air every day and it contains literally billions-upon-billions of dirt particles. Considering that we spend an average of 90 percent of our time indoors, it becomes obvious that to keep allergies and irritants at bay, we should make sure that the air we breathe is as contaminant free as possible.
Studies have shown that the air that circulates in a normal home is as dirty as that of a large city. As a result, an average person can expect to breathe in around 50 billion contaminant particles per hour.
Air-borne dirt comes from a number of sources: cars, vegetation, industries, smoke, pets and people. Pollen and dust mites, two of the most common irritants, are so small that they are invisible to the naked eye. Even dust mite droppings can easily enter our lungs and irritate our eyes.
Dirt is in our schools, workplaces, homes and in our cars. If the buildings where we spend large parts of our day are ventilated, things can get even worse. Poorly maintained ventilation systems are a prime source of "bad air," air that contains mold and bacteria circulated together with all the other particulate matter we end up breathing.
How Small is Small?
The particles that float in the air around us are so small that individually, they range from being hard to spot to completely invisible. They are easily whipped up from floors and surfaces to drift around until they either gently settle again, or are inhaled into our lungs.
When you consider that the average human hair is between 50 to 100 microns across, a dirt particle of 0.06 microns seems unimportant. But in large quantities, even particles this small can cause all kinds of problems. In high concentrations they cause problems in the form of irritations, allergies, asthma and bronchitis.
Realistically, dirt particles will always be in the air no matter how often we clean. By keeping these particles at lower levels we can reduce their ill effects on our health.
What's the answer?
The old expression, "Cleanliness is next to godliness" could easily be rewritten to say "Cleanliness is next to healthiness" especially when it comes to allergies.
Vacuum! Keep the place clean. There is no simpler way to stop dirt from fouling the indoor air we breathe than to vacuum often. Choose a vacuum cleaner with strong suction, an airtight, sealed design and a filter that stops dust from leaking back into the room once it's been vacuumed up.
Clean those hard-to-reach places too. Vacuum underneath sofas and beds, behind furniture and pay special attention to corners and around the baseboards. Door frames, ceiling fans, louvered doors and mini blinds all collect dust.
Kitchens and bathrooms are prime places where dirt just seems to appear and where it can have detrimental affects on our health. These rooms tend to be damp which provides lots of food for microbes to thrive on. Damp dirt is more harmful than dry dirt. While most microorganisms dry out and eventually die in dry conditions, they thrive where it is damp. The same rule applies to the microbes that live in the dust and dirt in our homes. When you vacuum in damp conditions it is important to change the filter bag frequently. Otherwise, any bacteria or molds that have collected in the filter bag will multiply.
Think of the word vacuum as a "verb" rather than a "noun". No vacuum cleaner is of any use at all if it just sits in a closet waiting to be plugged in. Your vacuum cleaner is also more efficient when the filter bag is changed regularly and not allowed to become overfilled. If you reuse the filter bag instead of replacing it with a new one you are wasting your time hoping for good filtration. Eureka makes triple filtration, sealable filter bags especially for people who have allergies.
Bagless vacuum cleaners can make it easy for people to avoid the whole problem of remembering to change the bag. The bagless cassette can be emptied after each use and then snapped back into place. Many however do not consider bagless to be very hypoallergenic. Many times when you empty a bagless vacuum you are exposed to dust and allergens and may spread them back into the home.
Not all vacuum cleaners are created equal. Some may suck in dirt, but they'll also let it out again. In this way, they work pretty much like a broom. While they may give you a visibly clean home at a reasonable price, real cleaning and filtration can be missing.
A better solution is to invest in a sealed vacuum cleaner that offers the same filtration as a professional air cleaner, filtering all air traveling through the system so that only clean air comes out of the vacuum. Vacuums with True HEPA capture 100% of dust mites and ragweed pollens along with hundreds of other allergens and irritants. True HEPA filtration is the same standard used by hospitals and is available in models with bags as well as bagless cyclonic models. To guarantee the best filtration, change the HEPA filter per the manufacturers direction. Be sure to read the wording that describes a vacuums filtering system; not all HEPA vacuums are True HEPA. Look for a sealed vacuum device such as those from BOSCH, Lindhaus and the Eureka Oxygen series.
Granted, vacuuming is work, but it's good for you and your family. Vacuuming keeps the dirt out of your home. Vacuuming frequently also saves you the work of a major clean-up, reducing dust on surfaces, cobwebs in corners and dust bunnies underneath furniture. Reducing the dust we breathe is good for everyone's health.