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On the topic of vacuums/dust

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Published: 20 years ago
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On the topic of vacuums/dust

Over the past few years more doctors and scientists around the world are speaking out about health problems associated with housedust.

"Housedust" is a catchall term. It may include such things as pet hair, mold spores and pollen, parts of small insects, bacteria and much more. Everybody's "housedust" is different and the way people react to "housedust" may vary. Many people who are allergic to one or more of the ingredients of "housedust" may have one or more of the following symptoms: runny nose, sneezing, cough, headaches, itchy eyes or hives to just name a few. Biologically, nature has provided humans with a built-in filter system (the hairs in nostrils) which will stop some dust particles; however, unless you were to live in a vacuum jar, you can expect to be breathing dust continually. How you try to eliminate this "dust" may make a great difference in your health. Problems can arise with the most common method of trying to remove dust, portable vacuum cleaners.

An excerpt from a German student's doctoral thesis was published in Frankfurter Rundschau on March 12, 1979. The title above the excerpt read "Many vacuum cleaners (portable) are bacteria slingshots."She states "Bacteria flies through the pores suspended in the air for hours where it is easily inhaled by the occupants of the house." Her advice is to use the portable vacuum cleaner as little as possible and when you do to open the windows wide.

The Franklin Journal picked up on this study and released a similar article shortly thereafter. In December of 1979, Consumer's Union also made mention of the study.

In October of 1980, a program ran on Channel 13 in Clearwater, Florida about a scientist who had been ignored by the Federal government for years, but was beginning to get people to listen. He claims there is more danger from cancer in the home due to portable vacuum cleaners than there is in a manufacturing plant. He claims the only way to clean is with a central vacuum.

Probably the best known report on this subject is a book entitled "Why Your House May Endanger You Health", (Simon and Schuster, $10.95) written by Dr. Alfred V. Zamm and Roger Gannon. Dr. Zamm is a dermatologist and allergist who gives an in-depth study of possible problem areas in homes. Dr. Zamm has been on TV (Donahue and PM Magazine) promoting his book. Local news shows and newspaper articles like the one which appeared in the January 25, 1981 Milwaukee Journal have made mention of his findings.

He devotes one whole chapter (15 pages) to "housedust" and its effects. According to one study the average six-room home in a city or suburb accumulates around forty pounds of dust a year. Dr. Zamm and other physicians view housedust as an "occupational hazard" for the housewife because she breathes the dust, stirred up by cleaning, most of the day. Plain dirt tracked in from outside is not that unhealthy, however, pet dander, mold spores, and housedust mites are. Housedust mites are small insects found in 2/3 of the households east of the Mississippi according to one study.

Dr. Zamm devotes another chapter to maintaining a healthy house. In this chapter he discusses vacuuming with portables. It suggests to open the windows when cleaning, especially when using portable vacuums. Here is what Dr. Zamm says about vacuum cleaners:

"Vacuum cleaners present a peculiar problem. They're by far the most effective for removing dust, and yet most of them pollute more than they clean. They suck in dust from surfaces, then blow the smaller particles through the filter or back into the air, particles that, because of their very small size, may slide through the body filtering mechanisms to lodge deep in the lungs. The best vacuum system is one built into the house, a system that pulls dust into a central unit, then blows it outside."
Dr. Zamm also suggests "specialized equipment, if prescribed by your allergist, may be used as a medical tax deduction.

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