Summary
Dust is made of fine particles of solid matter. On Earth, it generally consists of atmospheric particulates (particles in the atmosphere) that come from various sources such as soil lifted by wind (an aeolian process), volcanic eruptions, and pollution. Dust in homes is composed of about 20–50% dead skin cells. The rest, and in offices, and other human environments is composed of small amounts of plant pollen, human hairs, animal fur, textile fibers, paper fibers, minerals from outdoor soil, burnt meteorite particles, and many other materials which may be found in the local environment. Atmospheric or wind-borne fugitive dust, also known as aeolian dust, comes from arid and dry regions where high velocity winds are able to remove mostly silt-sized material, deflating susceptible surfaces. This includes areas where grazing, ploughing, vehicle use, and other human behaviors have further destabilized the land, though not all source areas have been largely affected by anthropogenic impacts. One-third of the global land area is covered by dust-producing surfaces, made up of hyper-arid regions like the Sahara which covers 0.9 billion hectares, and drylands which occupy 5.2 billion hectares. Dust in the atmosphere is produced by saltation and abrasive sandblasting of sand-sized grains, and it is transported through the troposphere. This airborne dust is considered an aerosol and once in the atmosphere, it can produce strong local radiative forcing. Saharan dust, in particular, can be transported and deposited as far as the Caribbean and the Amazon basin, and may affect air temperatures, cause ocean cooling, and alter rainfall amounts. Dust in the Middle East has been a historic phenomenon. Recently, because of climate change and the escalating process of desertification, the problem has worsened dramatically. As a multi-factor phenomenon, there is not yet a clear consensus on the sources or potential solutions to the problem. In Iran, the dust is already affecting more than 5 million people directly, and has emerged as a serious government issue in recent years.
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