Here at Dual Draw, we’re fascinated by dust. It’s everywhere, and has been since the dawn of time. Layer upon layer upon layer of dust have buried civilizations. These layers, over the eons, tell us the story of earth — if we’re willing to look.

Where Dust Comes From

As you run your finger over a dusty table that you just dusted a few days ago, you may wonder, where does dust come from? Pretty much everything. If you live near a busy road, you probably get a lot more dust than someone living on a quiet side street further away. As cars go whizzing by, they kick up dirt and spew emissions. Meanwhile, wind, plants, animals, and dry fields can contribute to a dusty environment.

Even outer space showers the atmosphere with dust! According to National Geographic Magazine’s Resources, Dust in Space, roughly 40,000 tons of dust are collected on earth from outer space each year. Back home on our planet, volcanos located thousands of miles away or regional wildfires can also contribute to local dust.

Industry also generates dust. For example, sawmills obviously create sawdust. Anyone who’s lived on a farm knows that agriculture is notoriously dusty — from plowing the fields to transferring grain to grain elevators. Quarries, cement factories, and other industries involved in the crushing of stone generate dust. Just about all manufacturing involves emission of some sort including carbon emissions, chemical emissions, and smoke, each of which involve tiny particles that become airborne.

What is Dust, Actually?

Business Dictionary defines dust as:

Airborne particulate matter ranging in diameter from 10 to 50 microns generated from activities such as cutting, crushing, detonation, grinding, and handling of organic and inorganic matter such as coal, grain, metal, ore, rock, or wood.

LiveScience.com explains that while you may have heard that dust is mostly dead skin, that common factoid is mostly untrue and that dust typically contains a mixture of animal dander, insect waste, dirt, sand, and other materials like flour in the kitchen.

Thus, dust composition varies from location to location, or even era to era. Imagine ancient civilizations buried by time (and by layer upon layer of dust). If you were to study those dust layers, you probably wouldn’t find the same composition as you’d find in modern dust. Ancient dust, as you can imagine, would not have the chemicals, pollution, and fine particulates found in modern dust.

The Art of Dust — And Why Picasso Wore Gray Suits

We’ve touched a little on the science of dust, but what about the art of it? An art exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Into Dust, explored the concept of the fragile nature of the human condition, the passage of time, and “the propensity toward impermanence and disintegration.”

Pablo Picasso was reportedly fascinated with dust to the point where he refused to let his housekeepers remove it for fear they’d disturb his things. He likened dust to a “layer of protection” and said that if dust went missing, he immediately knew someone had touched his things.

How obsessed was he with dust? We can only imagine, but Picasso has been quoted as saying, “…and it’s because I live constantly with dust, in dust, that I prefer to wear gray suits, the only color on which it leaves no trace.”

While dust fascinates us both scientifically and intrinsically, we don’t necessarily want to breathe it or allow it to accumulate due to the potential industrial hazards discussed many times here in our blog. Whether you’re concerned about indoor air quality in general or combustible dust, DualDraw has industrial dust solutions, smoke extraction systems and downdraft equipment designed to combat and contain the hazards of dust.