WEDNESDAY, May 11 (HealthDay News) -- The flakes of human skin
in household dust may help reduce indoor air pollution, according
to new research.
Humans shed their entire outer layer of skin every two to four
weeks, the researchers pointed out in the study, published in the
May issue of the journal
Environmental Science & Technology. Those flakes, which contain skin oils such as cholesterol and squalene, are a major contributor to dust buildup in homes and offices.
The Danish researchers reported that squalene oil, the most
common fat and antioxidant found on human skin, plays a small role
in reducing levels of indoor ozone, a pollutant that can irritate
the eyes, nose and throat and exacerbate asthma symptoms.
"It is only within the last five years that we've grown to appreciate the central role that squalene (from human skin oil) plays in oxidation chemistry within indoor environments," the study authors said in a news release from the American Chemical Society.
The researchers examined how cholesterol and squalene from dust
in 500 bedrooms of children aged 3 to 5 years and their daycare
centers affected indoor air pollution. They found that squalene in
settled dust reduced ozone levels roughly 2 to 15 percent.
Previous studies also revealed that squalene from human skin
helped lower levels of ozone from the air in airplane cabins. "More
than half of the ozone removal measured in a simulated aircraft
cabin was found to be a consequence of ozone reacting with exposed,
skin, hair, and clothing of passengers," Charles Weschler and
colleagues wrote in the news release.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provides tips for
indoor air pollution.