Indoor Science has been deemed an essential service and is open for all services, including COVID consulting work.

What’s in House Dust?

dusty attic; dust in the home; house dust

House dust can contain many different particles and contaminants.  The type of dust and the composition can vary depending on climate, region, the number of occupants, and the activities performed in the space.  Researchers estimate that one-third of dust originates from indoor sources such as fabric fibers, human skin cells, animal fur, decomposing insects, food debris, and lint.  Approximately, two-thirds come from soil and particles from the outdoors.  I also found out that household dust may also contain several dangerous chemical contaminants.

In one study, researchers found multiple types of plasticizers and flame retardants in 90-100% of the dust samples taken.  Plasticizers are used to soften plastics in vinyl flooring, food containers, and cosmetics.  Phthalates are common chemical compounds that makeup plasticizers.  Different types of phthalates were found in the dust samples.  This result is concerning because phthalates are known as endocrine disruptors.  The human endocrine system regulates hormone levels inside the body.  The endocrine disruptors negatively affect the body by causing developmental problems, cancer, and birth defects among other issues.  

Research is still being conducted on the chemicals that can be found inside of dust but I think the evidence so far shows how common house dust can be a real problem in terms of indoor air quality.  In a future blog post, I’ll cover the most notorious contaminant in dust… dust mites.


Layton, D. W., & Beamer, P. I. (2009). Migration of Contaminated Soil and Airborne Particulates to Indoor Dust. Environmental Science & Technology, 43(21), 8199–8205.

Consumer Product Chemicals in Indoor Dust: A Quantitative Meta-analysis of U.S. Studies  Susanna D. Mitro, Robin E. Dodson, Veena Singla, Gary Adamkiewicz, Angelo F. Elmi, Monica K. Tilly, and Ami R. Zota Environmental Science & Technology 2016 50 (19), 10661-10672 DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.6b02023

Joel Silva

Joel Silva

Joel Silva is a Project Manager that performs indoor air quality assessments with a specialty in mold and bacteria. Mr. Silva holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Biology from Aurora University and he is a Certified Indoor Environmentalist (CIE) which is a certification from the ACAC. Prior to working at Indoor Science, Joel did microbiology work in the quality assurance department for a food manufacturer. During school, he also interned for the Chicago Department of Public Health. In his words... “As a child, I had an interest in science specifically in the biology of the natural world. Besides working for Indoor Science, I enjoy running outdoors, competing in races, lifting weights, practicing yoga, reading, and visiting breweries all over the country.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *