Why Shouldn’t You Allow Dust to Settle?

Your love affair with dust is the never-ending one. You vacuum it off the surfaces or sweep it off the floor; it will be back again sooner than you anticipate. It may seem harmless but causes a profound effect on your health.

Dust is generated from various sources and processes, including natural erosion of sand, soil, and rocks. It is commonly produced from various urban areas like gardening, construction, and industrial operations.

Moreover, many other materials make part of the dust in the environment, such as pet dander, pollen, plant material, microbes, etc. You would be surprised to know that 1/3rd of household dust is created within your home itself.

Why Dust is Bad for your Health?

Harmful effects of Dust on Health

The harmful effects of dust on human health depend on the type, size, and amount of dust present in the air. It also depends on how long one stays exposed to the dusty environment. Ultrafine PM2.5 captured particles cause the long-term health effects of dust.

Prolonged breathing in areas with high dust concentrations reduces lung functions in the long term and can lead to heart disorders, chronic bronchitis, and lung disorders.

Effects of dust on the lungs 

Prolonged exposure to dust causes breathing problems that may develop into life-threatening respiratory diseases. The ultrafine particles are inhaled into the nasal cavity and pharynx. These penetrate deeper into the lungs and result in chest-blockages.

Dust exposure can cause severe respiratory disorders, such as debilitating asthma and fatal pneumonia. The dust clouds created from wood, reactive dyes, and grains can trigger allergic reactions, including wheezing, coughing attacks, chest tightness.

Lung diseases are considered among the most severe health emergencies related to workplace dust. When exposed to respirable crystalline silica (RCS) for long periods, individuals may end up with silicosis and lung cancer.

Dust overexposure-related chronic effects in the lungs are very hazardous and beyond any cure. Individuals with respiratory disorders like COAD, asthma, or emphysema; experience worsening symptoms when exposed to increased dust concentration.

Pneumoconiosis-dusty lungs

Workers who work in an environment with high dust concentrations are likely to get affected by a severe type of lung disease known as “pneumoconiosis” or dusty lungs. Depending on the different types of dust inhaled, it results in various changes in the lung tissues.

The injury caused by exposure to silica results in scar tissue being surrounded by normal lung tissue. In this condition, the lungs don’t lose their elasticity. However, the injury caused by exposure to cobalt, asbestos, and beryllium may result in stiff lungs with lost elasticity.

Some ultra-fine particles get dissolved in the bloodstream and circulate the substance throughout the body, affecting other organs like the brain, kidneys, heart, etc.

Some of the most common lung diseases associated with the least dust exposure include asbestosis, silicosis, coal pneumoconiosis, siderosis, hard metal disease, farmer’s lung, etc.

Effects of dust on the brain

Dust overexposure may also cause cerebral complications.

The inhalation of fine and respirable dust particles can increase brain strokes’ risks and result in dementia. Studies have proven that individuals with the least exposure to dust have healthier brains.

Effects of dust on skin

Dust exposure to the skin can cause allergic reactions such as dryness, itchiness, and scaling. The dust produced in some industrial environments comprises carcinogenic chemicals that may cause skin cancer.

Exposure to lead-contaminated dust

Lead is a potent neurotoxin that can accumulate to very high dust and soil levels after many years of the burning of leaded gasoline, degraded lead-based paints, and harmful industrial emissions. It occurs mainly in the industrial or mining areas in the cities.

Lead-contaminated dust is responsible for lead poisoning in children. It can cause permanent disability in exposed children.

High risks categories of dust exposure

While breathing low levels of dust in-home or outside is considered harmless, overexposure to dust may affect any individual’s health.

People who are at high risk of the health effects of dust exposure include babies and kids, smokers, elderly people of age 65 years and above, people with pre-existing respiratory and heart disorders like bronchitis and asthma, COPD, etc.

Moreover, anyone who experiences difficulty in breathing or symptoms of hay fever is more likely to have the health effects of dust exposure.

Ways of protecting the lungs from dust

You must implement certain control measures for preventing respiratory and other problems caused by dust exposure. Wherever possible, substitute hazardous substances with non-hazardous substances.

Some common ways of protecting the lungs from dust include using wet processes, efficient housekeeping, vacuuming instead of brooming, proper and controlled disposal of dangerous waste, etc.

You should use air purifiers at home and offices, ensure the enclosure of dust-producing sources, and install the exhaust system that collects and expels dust, etc.

Use N95 masks wherever you roam outside in any polluted environment. If you are working in a dust-producing industrial unit, ensure to use personal protective equipment whenever possible.


Overexposure to dust may result in various occupational illnesses and diseases. This largely depends on the size of dust particles, duration and frequency of exposure, and dust particles concentration in breathing space.

The composition of dust particles varies from one home to another depending on the climate, smoking habits, cleaning practices, and home age. It may include human skin cells, dust mites, carpet fibres, decomposed insects, particulate matter from cooking, etc.

Among many other preventive measures, installing air purifiers at home and offices go a long way in keeping your lungs healthy and happy.


Preksha is passionate about writing articles that will inspire readers to make better choices. You will find her eating desserts for lunch, dinner and any time of the day. Also, she is the chief playlist engineer for any road trip.

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