“A Microscopical Study of the General Composition of Household Dirt”

2003:9: Millette

Microscope, Vol 51:4 201-207


Analyses were performed on 72 vacuum samples collected from homes in 7 geographically diverse metropolitan areas of the Untied States to gain information about the major components and general characteristics of household dirt. The household dirt samples were characterized by both gravimetric measurement of sieved size fractions and by polarized light microscopy analyses. Over 90% of the dirt samples contained the following common components: skin cells, soil minerals, plant fragments, hair, cotton fibers, and starch granules. The study results found that the fiber fraction of the darts ranged from 9% to 89% with a mean of 46%. The ratio of hair to natural and man-made fibers (lint) in the fiber fraction was extremely variable, from 0.05 to 0.95, with a mean of 0.41. On average, about 40% of the mass of the particulate (non-fibrous) portion was greater than 300 ?m, about 10% was between 75 and 300 ?m and about 3% was below 75 ?m. However, values of an individual dirt sample can lie within a considerable range.

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