What is the point of cleaning when dust accumulates so quickly? About four weeks ago, this question popped up in my mind while I was practicing the yearly cleaning ritual just before Chinese New Year. The house was spick and span after a long and dreary session but – lo and behold! – the dust returned to all corners of the house in less than twenty-four hours.

If I had a dollar for everytime I see a speck of dust floating around, I’d be rich!

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But what is dust really made up of?

Dust in the house mostly contain sand, dirt and dead skin cells. Yes, humans are sources of dust! We shed our skin everyday and produce tiny flakes of dead skin that become the dust we see.

Besides shedding skin, humans shed hair too. The hair will then break down to smaller and even smaller pieces – eventually becoming dust.

Did you know? The average person sheds 1/3 ounce of dead skin each week, amounting to the weight of a car key!

When we head outside, dust gets also trapped in our hair and lands on our skin. They come from anywhere. Soil, plant, roads, pets, insects, carpets – technically anything – are sources of dust.

Dust mites.

When people say that they are allergic to dust, they are actually most likely having  an allergic reaction towards dust mites instead. Dust mites are microscopic bugs that live on dead skin cells that humans and animals shed. They do not necessarily pose danger to humans, but they and their faeces can cause allergic reactions to humans – the asthmatic ones in particular. Up to 500 dust mites can survive on just one gram of dust.


These microscopic dust mites are 250 to 300 microns in length and have translucent bodies – as seen from the image above!

Dust mites are commonly found in mattresses, sofas, furniture and carpets. Did you know? A typical mattress is estimated to have around 100,000 to 10 million dust mites inside. I don’t think I’d sleep in peace after learning this fact!

In every negative lies a positive.

It is unusually heartening to find out that dust is not always irksome – in fact, it might create wonders; sometimes being useful to us.

Remember seeing the spectacular and explosive fireworks on New Year’s Day? The dust of various chemicals and metals is used to create all the vibrant colours in our fireworks. I can’t imagine New Year celebration without a dramatic firework display!

Not to mention, dust is responsible for the glorious sunrises and sunsets as the dust in the atmosphere absorbs blue and green colours but allows the orange and red hues through.

For lovers of rain and snow – in case you didn’t know – every raindrop or snowflake is actually a piece of dust. Bet you didn’t know!

Last but foremost, dust particles are essential in crime-solving during a forensic investigation. This could be the most prominent function of dust – as you might have known from watching your typical crime shows on netflix.

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That’s it, we’re all done and dusted! Have a great day ahead everyone.


– All gifs adapted from giphy.com –

Source of the photo:

Dust mite: Gilles San Martin


Posted by:Angela Kwe

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