One of the most difficult things to avoid in life is exposure to dust. Though our body has various defense systems that can ward off the danger of inhaling dust. However, when this problem happens constantly or in excess amounts, this can put you at risk of facing respiratory problems.
Dust is the most common type of air pollution and can come from a variety of sources. Some dust can be seen with the naked eye, some are not. According to WHO, there are several types of dust which can be based on their size. The types of dust you usually see accumulating on the surface of home furnishings are called pollutants. Dust that can stay longer in the air and spread over longer distances are called particles. While dust pollutants can be easily spotted with your eye, most dust particles are not visible.
When inhaled, larger dust will usually be trapped around your nose and mouth area. This type of dust can then be eliminated easily through coughing, or sneezing. Meanwhile, finer dust particles pose a greater risk when inhaled. This is because the smaller dust can penetrate deeper airways such as the bronchi or lungs, it may even absorb into the bloodstream! Another looming danger of dust is that it can bring in microorganisms that cause infections which can trigger serious lung diseases.
What Are the Dangers of Dust for Respiratory Health?
Apart from the particle size, the health risk associated with inhaling dust will also depend on other factors, such as the quantity of dust inhaled, the duration of exposure, and the specific region of the respiratory tract where the dust is retained. Below are some potential dangers that can result from inhaling dust into the respiratory system.
Generally, dust particles that are trapped in the nose can immediately cause a reflex of coughing and sneezing. This reaction is our body’s defense system which acts immediately to remove dust from the airway.
Dust trapped in your nasal passage can also trigger allergic rhinitis, commonly known as hay fever. The presence of dust can stimulate an exaggerated response from the immune system to foreign substances. This immune reaction manifests in respiratory symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, and a congested or stuffy nose. Furthermore, allergic rhinitis may also extend its symptoms to other areas. For example, it can cause itchy, red, and watery eyes.
The respiratory issues associated with allergic rhinitis will persist as long as the individual with allergies remains exposed to the dust. Thus, the best way to alleviate the symptoms is to either avoid dust exposure completely or utilize allergy medications.
Irritation of the Respiratory Passages
If you inhale large amounts of dust continuously, the dust can irritate the upper airways such as the nose and throat. In addition to causing constant coughing or sneezing, irritation in the airways can also trigger sore throat symptoms. Long-term exposure to dust can later damage the tissue around the nose and throat. This condition can increase sputum production in the upper airway, which results in blocked airways that can cause shortness of breath.
Respiratory Tract Infection
Extremely fine dust particles can transport specific microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, or fungi, to the deeper regions of the respiratory system, such as the trachea, bronchi, and lungs. These smaller particles may even shield infection-causing microorganisms from the filtration mechanisms within the lower airway.
The infection will damage the tissue that protects the airways, further causing a buildup of mucus in the lungs. Inhaling dust that carries infectious microorganisms in the lungs can cause several diseases such as:
- Chronic obstructive respiratory disease (COPD).
If you do activities or stay at a place that can make you inhale dust that contains harmful chemicals such as asbestos, beryllium, and cobalt continuously – over time it may lead to health conditions like pneumoconiosis.
Pneumoconiosis is characterized by the development of scar tissue or pulmonary fibrosis around healthy lung tissue. This condition can result in a decline in lung function, making it challenging for you to breathe. This can even put you at heightened risk of having respiratory failure.
One of the most effective ways to protect yourself from some of the diseases that we mentioned above, is by ensuring that you avoid dusty environments at all costs. Since a significant portion of your time is spent at home, maintaining a safe and dust-free living space is crucial. Regular cleaning practices such as vacuuming every corner of your house, and wiping down furniture and various parts of your home using both wet and dry wipes – are some of the essential measures you can take.
Additionally, you should also pay attention to fabric-based items like mattresses, upholstery, and sofas as dust tends to stick to these surfaces. To maintain the cleanliness of your fabric-based furniture, you might want to consider seeking professional help for thorough cleaning using specialized tools.
Engaging with professionals ensures effective cleaning and will contribute to a healthier living environment. For more information on how to enlist professional cleaning assistance for fabric-based furniture, you can check out https://www.luce.sg/services/upholstery/sofa-cleaning.