Dust is everywhere, but most of the time, it isn’t harmful. Although it might irritate our slight obsession with keeping our furniture and cars looking nice, most dust is non-irritating to our senses. In other words, we coexist with our dust quite harmoniously.
While you probably don’t think about dust as invasive and harmful in terms of actually being injurious (especially the dust you wipe away with your favorite pine-scented solvent), many types of dust can be dangerous both for your respiratory system and your eyes.
We wondered what separated common household dust from harmful, eye-irritating dust, so the team at Stoggles did the research to learn the dusty truth. We’ll fill you in on how dust forms and what makes some of it dangerous. Then, we’ll share the information you need to protect your peepers from even the most diabolical dust particles.
What’s the Big Deal With Dust
You probably wouldn’t guess it, but dust is one of the most basic hazards to your eyes. This is largely in part to the fact it’s so pervasive and common. In terms of eye-related injuries, of which there are about 2,000 per day, dust is the most common perpetrator, according to the CDC.
Although most dust isn’t harmful, the dust that is makes a big impact on our ocular health. Nearly 20% of the daily eye injuries incurred result in a temporary or permanent loss of vision. Thankfully, nearly 90% of all eye injuries (especially dust-related ones) are preventable simply by wearing protective eyewear, including safety glasses.
Dust happens, and it happens in situations that you might not expect. Even cleaning your home can present dust that contains chemicals or ingredients that can be harmful.
What’s Making All This Dust?
Dust is everywhere. We are continually being exposed to it, but it does beg the question: what’s creating all of it? There are a few different sources of common household dust.
You are your main source of dust. It’s true. Your skin is the largest organ in your body, and it’s continually shedding and renewing itself. Dead skin cells naturally flake from your body, creating dust. This dust feeds microscopic mites that in turn produce feces that also create dust.
Sorry to be the bearer of somewhat bad news, but much of the dust you find in your house is a combination of dead skin and mite-poop.
Your hair also sheds from your head, your body, your eyelashes, and eyebrows. Hair that isn’t swept or vacuumed eventually begins to break down into smaller pieces creating (you guessed it) more dust. Kind of makes you a little more sympathetic to the classic Peanuts character, Pigpen.
Your belongings don’t just collect dust; they create it. Every time you remove your clean, freshly dried clothing from your dryer, you remove the lint from the lint screen. That lint is dust, and not all of it gets trapped conveniently in that little mesh dryer device.
Your clothing sheds fibers as well as your carpet, upholstered furniture, dish towels, bath towels, rugs, drapes, and every other fibrous material that you have in your home. Shipping boxes and food boxes that are broken down before they are recycled also create dust. Some foods even create dust, like cereal, rice, and pasta.
Although these items don’t create a lot of dust, the dust is cumulative. It creates the need to clean and “dust” your furniture.
Everyone Else in Your House
Pets, children, and significant others are also sources of dust. Pet dander isn’t actually pet hair, which can be a problem in and of itself. Pet dander is the shedding of your pets’ skin which, like yours, is continually renewing itself.
Virtually every activity under the sun (with the exception of activities that take place in an engineered cleanroom) creates dust. Some workplace activities can be particularly particle-filled.
Woodworking, construction, mining, industrial cleaning, landscaping, and even household cleaning can all create dust that could potentially create a hazard for your eyes. With so many potential eye hazards “floating” around, it can be hard to determine when you’re putting your eyes at risk.
When Does Dust Become a Hazard?
The reason why dust can be so harmful is because it’s so plentiful. It’s literally everywhere. Plus, it’s hard to avoid at home or at work, especially if you work in a field where dust is continually created (like construction).
Most of the time, dust isn’t harmful. Even when it is, your eyes do a great job of protecting themselves. Your eyelids, eyelashes, and tears are effective at identifying potential threats, trapping them, and removing them from your eyes.
In addition to these protective barriers, your eyes also excrete rheum, the scientific name for eye boogers. This protective mucousy film helps trap debris and remove them from your eyes.
Dust becomes hazardous to your eyes when your exposure to it increases. Dust contains ingredients that could harm your eyes, and/or the particle size is large enough to create a harmful impact.
Determining your level of exposure to dust is OSHA’s job at work and your job at home. OSHA makes their dust exposure rules based on the type of dust you are exposed to, the risks involved with exposure, and the length of exposure it takes for that particular type of dust to harm you.
For instance, OSHA’s rules on wood dust exposure include monitoring and testing the air, testing the wood that is producing dust particles for toxins and chemicals, and observing how frequently employees are in direct contact with the dust. Based on these factors, it then rules whether or not exposure merits PPE like safety glasses, goggles, and/or respirators.
If OSHA has determined that your workplace presents a significant exposure risk, your employer will issue you safety glasses or goggles to keep your eyes safe. They should also ensure that employees are wearing them in compliance with OSHA standards.
At home, you’ll have to be your own advocate. As a general rule, any type of home improvement that involves drilling, sawing, grinding, or shaping should be done with safety glasses. Also, you should wear safety glasses when doing yard work and working with household cleaning chemicals.
The ingredients in dust are what often make it very harmful. Silica dust, for instance, is particularly harmful when it is inhaled. If you work in an environment where you are exposed to dust that contains glass particles, even a small amount can scratch your eye and permanently damage your vision.
Assess the risk before you start a project at home. If you’re working with a material that you wouldn’t want in your eyes (i.e., bleach, wood chips, grass), wear safety glasses.
The size of the dust particles also makes a difference in terms of determining whether or not the dust you encounter is hazardous. The CDC recognizes different sizes of dust particles. PM2.5 and PM10 are both dust particle sizes that can be hazardous to your health.
However, PM2.5 is most hazardous upon inhalation and doesn’t present a significant eye health risk. PM10 presents a danger to your eye health based on sheer size alone. Combine that size with ingredients like chemicals or glass/metal particulates, and you’ve got the perfect storm brewing for an eye-related injury.
Five Safety Glasses Features That Keep Dust Away
In terms of keeping your eyes safe, safety glasses have it. The best way to protect yourself is to use property eyewear for the task you have. Even if you routinely perform an activity, there’s always a chance for an injury.
We at Stoggles know eye safety (it’s kind of our thing), and we also know about comfort and style. We know if your glasses don’t make you feel good, you aren’t going to wear them. Safety glasses that aren’t worn don’t protect your eyes (that’s science).
Here are five safety glass features that will keep your eyes protected from hazardous dust:
1. Protective Side Shields
Maybe you think your regular eyeglasses or sunglasses provide enough protection against dust. Unfortunately, they don’t. If you’re currently wearing your glasses, reach up and place your finger inside the lens via the opening on the sides of your glasses.
If you can fit your entire fingertip in there, imagine how many dust particles can infiltrate this area. Side shields offer protection to cover the gap between your lenses and your temples, ensuring that particles can’t intrude.
2. Protective Top Shields
In the same way that your regular glasses leave you vulnerable on the sides of your temples, they’re also not protective at the top. The tops of your glasses don’t prevent particles from entering your eye area, but a top shield like the kind available on safety glasses will.
Top shields extend from the top of your lenses all the way to your browline, ensuring there’s no gap leaving you susceptible to flying debris.
3. Impact Resistance
Impact resistance is important, even when dealing with dust particles. Because dust particles vary greatly in size, it’s impossible to know whether or not a large particle could potentially crack your lenses.
The best and most effective way to keep your eyes safe is by wearing safety glasses that have impact-resistant lenses. Impact resistance ensures that even if a large dust particle with a heavier particle weight strikes your lenses, they’ll protect you from impact.
4. Anti-Fog Coating
We know what you’re thinking, but anti-fog coating is actually crucial in terms of protecting you from dust particles. If your lenses repeatedly fog, you’ll have to remove them and wipe them to make use of them. Anytime you remove your safety glasses mid-project, your eyes are exposed to hazards.
Eventually, glasses that repeatedly fog simply aren’t worn, which renders them completely useless in terms of doing anything… other than collecting dust.
5. ANSI Z87.1-2020 Certification
If you really want glasses that protect you from more than just dust, look for the ANSI Z87.1-2020 certification. The certification, which is the industry standard for safety glasses, was recently updated in 2020.
Glasses that are manufactured under these strict certifications are required to pass numerous safety tests for impact and durability. When your glasses bear this certification, you can be assured your eyes are safe.
Stoggles: We’re Dusting the Competition
Sure, you could grab a pair of safety glasses at a big box store or your local hardware store, but you’ll find the ones available there aren’t particularly comfortable and aren’t even close to aesthetically appealing. Most of them are designed bulky, so they’ll fit over eyeglasses, if necessary.
Stoggles believes you shouldn’t have to choose between safety and style. You should have both, and in a frame and lens combination that fits so comfortably, you’ll forget you’re even wearing them.
Our glasses meet all five dust-banning features and give you the added bonus of looking as good as they feel. They’re even available in different colors to fit your personal style or mood.
If you wear prescription lenses, Stoggles has the solution. Our safety glasses are available with prescription lenses, so you never have to worry about stuffing your safety glasses over your regular specs just so you can see while you work or play.
With Stoggles, you have the power to protect your eyes and your sense of style. That’s how we’re dusting the competition, and making sure wearing protective eyeglasses is always an easy solution.
Sources:Air Particulate Matter | CDC