British technology company Dyson is perhaps best known for cutting edge technology with air purifiers, vacuum cleaners and even hair care accessories. But it is not just that. Over the past year, the company has done a rather extensive analysis of the pollutants in our homes and in our cars, and the results are quite shocking. The Indian Household Hidden Dust Study 2018 released on the World Asthma Day 2019 indicates that bacteria, dust mites as well as dog and cockroach allergens are commonplace in our homes and cars. The research was conducted by Dyson and FICCI Research and Analysis Centre (FRAC) and was done over a period of six weeks in households in Delhi NCR, Bengaluru and Mumbai.
Dyson and FRAC say that even though people have been regularly cleaning their homes using the traditional cleaning methods such as dusting the sofas, brooming and wiping the floors and sweeping the dust away, bacteria, dust mites and allergens are present. “Dust mite and cockroach allergens are common triggers of all-year round allergy and asthma symptoms. Most of the times, the problem is too small to notice – while the home might appear clean, it is the dust and dirt that can cause allergic reactions” says Dr. Vikram Jaggi, Director of the Asthma Chest & Allergy Centres.
Dyson says a total of 12,491 grams of hidden dust was captured using the Dyson cord-free vacuum cleaner. On an average in each home, there was 74 grams of dust in sofas, 93 grams of dust in mattresses, 115 grams of dust in carpets and 194 grams of dust in car interiors. It is in this dust that a variety of allergens and pollutants reside.
The Dyson FRAC report indicates that cockroach allergens were commonly detected in homes surveyed, across surfaces including mattresses.
Then there is the problem of perception. “Many respondents believed that that dusting, sweeping and mopping were effective in providing dust free home and were surprised to see the amounts of hidden dust in their homes after traditional methods of cleaning were applied on regular basis,” says the report. “Indian homes are commonly seen to have clean floors, furniture and seemingly neat and tidy beds. They usually perform cleaning on a daily basis. Many might be surprised that by investigating the hidden dust from these homes we found that cockroach allergens, dust mites, mould and bacteria were commonly present. Often not visible, these dust particles can trigger allergy symptoms particularly in people who are predisposed towards allergies,” says Shantanu Khandelwal, CEO, FICCI Research and Analysis Centre.
There is a reason for this composition of pollutants, dust and allergens in our homes. Cockroaches prefer warm and humid conditions, mostly found in the kitchens of Indian homes. Once these cockroaches breed there, the entire home is then accessible to them. Which is why their allergens are found across the home, including the mattresses we sleep on. Then there is the human body. Humans usually shed around 20 grams to 66 grams of dead skin on a monthly basis, which dust mites feed on. The allergens left behind by these mites are the reasons for many allergic reactions, and these mites have been found commonly in sofas, mattresses, carpets and car interiors. Fungus moulds can also trigger allergic reactions in many people. If you have a pet dog at home, they can also shred allergens which stick to many surfaces in your home as well as on your clothes.
“At Dyson we try and solve problems that others ignore. Having conducted a significant amount of research in real Indian homes, we know that the homes require a deep clean that is capable of capturing the hidden dust. Dyson’s cord-free technology has been engineered to capture 99.97% of microscopic dust as small as 0.3 micron, effectively removing allergens and capturing them in the bin” says Kevin Grant, Head of Floorcare at Dyson. Dyson sells the V7, V8 and V10 line-up of vacuum cleaners in India, with prices between Rs 22,900 and Rs 45,900—some of the highlights include motors that can speed up to 1,25,000 rpm for powerful suction, no dust leakage from the air and dirt ejector mechanisms that ensure you don’t come in physical contact with the captured dust.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. One of the solutions could be to implement a regular cleaning mechanism that goes over and above the regular cleaning mechanisms such as sweeping, wiping and dusting. What many don’t realise is that dust mites and allergens don’t always stay on the surface of a sofa or a mattress, for instance. It is perhaps prudent to use a vacuum cleaner, for instance, to pull the dust mites that might be hiding deep inside the soft innards of your sofa or mattress, or even carpets and curtains for that matter.