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Thursday, October 02, 2014

Question

How do we prevent or reduce dust build up in all the areas of the building: offices, shelves, computers, high places, low places, chairs, etc. We continually dust using lambís wool and wipe with microfiber clothes, and use special dust collecting chemicals applied on floor mops, but for some reason, dust is building up everywhere. The building has constant air flow as the result of ongoing ventilation with heat during the winter and cooling during the summer. Is the problem with the special equipment or chemicals that I am using now?


Answer

Dusting methods all work by capturing and holding the dust so that it may be taken from the surface on which it appears. When you examine a newly dusted surface, whether it is a shelf, counter, computer, or whatever, and there is no longer any dust on it, you have done the job. Any of the tools you mention can do an effective job of dust removal when used properly. So your problem is, as you note, not that of dust removal. You are doing that and once the dust is gone, it is gone. Your problem is rapid dust accumulation. The buildingís dust accretion (build-up) rate is high, more so than in a normal indoor environment. This isnít due to your removal attempts unless they just put fine dust back into the air. For that reason, check that your vacuuming uses adequate filtration and the collection bags are kept in good condition, not overfilled, torn, or improperly installed on the machine.
If all is well there, the air handling system is the next place to look. In a hot, dry climate, the obvious source of indoor dust is the outdoors. Is any outside air intake located near a dusty area, beside an unpaved parking lot, for example? Heavy volumes of dust have to come from somewhere. Next, take a close look at the filters in your air handler. Are they capable of high filtration, or the dollar store variety through which you can pour sand or salt? Without excellent filters in the system, it will simply blow dust around the building to give you the build-up you are experiencing. It will also load up the air vents and ducts. Excess dust in those spaces will move to everything else, so you may need duct cleaning by a service company equipped to do it right. Higher grade filters will cost more and require more frequent service than the cheapies. Weigh those costs against those for constant dust removal efforts, damage to dust-sensitive equipment, and the respiratory problems the occupants face and you will see the wisdom of correcting the problem at its source.
Lynn E. Krafft, ICAN/ATEX Associate Editor
lekrafft@juno.com