Please Explain: Dust

Friday, March 05, 2010

Dust is everywhere: under our beds, on our computer screens, in cracks in the sidewalk, and on our skin. Particles from the Sahara can be found as far away as the Caribbean, and dust from melting glaciers can impact the Earth’s climate. On this week’s edition of Please Explain, Hannah Holmes, author of The Secret Life of Dust, and Paul Lioy, Professor and Deputy Director of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School-University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and author of the forthcoming book Dust: The Inside Story of Its Role in the September 11th Aftermath, join us to discuss where dust comes from, what it’s made of, and the good and bad contributions it makes to the planet and even to space.


Hannah Holmes, and Paul Lioy

Comments [14]

Steven Paul Mark from United States

Is it true that dust from Napoleoon's skin particles are still circulating in the air. I once heard this as a factoid.

Mar. 08 2010 11:04 AM
deborah from Brooklyn

Ack! I'm allergic to dust.

One cool thing I learned recently is that it takes dust to form a snowflake.

Mar. 06 2010 12:38 AM
Alaina from Weehawken, NJ

Aren't they now finding that exposure to dust and dirt (of course not mold or lead paint) is important for the development of childrens' immune systems? Should we really be that afraid of the 1/2 cup of dust our children eat?

Mar. 05 2010 12:53 PM
oskar from Brooklyn

what about the classic modine-like industrial heather I and many other people have in our homes, how bad is it for my respiratory system?

Mar. 05 2010 12:52 PM

did she really just ask why carpet is legal??!

my father owns a vacuum cleaner that sucks tons of dead skin and mites from a mattress. buy one.

Mar. 05 2010 12:50 PM
Amy from Manhattan

I wonder if the bugs died because the dust was fine enough to plug up the pores in their skin/exoskeleton, which some insects breathe through? Or maybe something in it works like diatomaceous earth, which has tiny edges that cut through their digestive system when they eat it.

On antibacterial products, the most common active ingredient, triclosan, has been found to be only ~97% effective, which means it can lead to resistant strains of bacteria. Other types, like alcohol, are more effective, but is the foam (or the wipes) better than the spray because it's not an aerosol & doesn't add dust to the air?

Mar. 05 2010 12:49 PM
Hugh Sansom from Brooklyn NY

Regarding carpeting: Unless the carpet is all-natural fibers, then the outgassing from plastics is an issue, particularly of bromine compounds. Bromine can compete with iodine in your body.

Mar. 05 2010 12:47 PM
Hugh Sansom from Brooklyn NY

The electrostatic cleaners won't filter out anything that doesn't have a charge. If you still have a CRT-style TV, the face of the TV is effectively an electrostatic cleaner since it will develop a charge (from the electrons bombarding the display).

Mar. 05 2010 12:44 PM
Richard from Jamaica

Have traces of human ash, generated by cremation, been detected?

Mar. 05 2010 12:31 PM
Munira from Manhattan

I have been trying, unsuccessfully, to convince my husband to replace our carpeting with wood flooring because it is collecting too much dust and not good for our health.Am I wrong and is there anything more that you suggest that I say to convince him? Thanks.

Mar. 05 2010 12:30 PM
Mike C. from Tribeca

Danny Iselin from woodbridge nj -- Consumer Reports had an article about ionic breeze towers a few years ago and said they were essentially worthless.

Mar. 05 2010 12:19 PM
the truth! from BKNY


Mar. 05 2010 12:18 PM
Mike C. from Tribeca

Ms. Holmes' book, "The Secret Life of Dust," is superbly informative and entertaining. I highly recommend it to your readers!

Mar. 05 2010 12:17 PM
Danny Iselin from woodbridge nj

What value does having IONIC BREEZE towers? I have 4 throughout my apratment.

Mar. 05 2010 12:17 PM

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