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Author Topic: Do our dead skin cells (dust) have a function?  (Read 3130 times)

Offline ConfusedHermit

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Do our dead skin cells (dust) have a function?
« on: 26/08/2012 03:20:12 »
I remember finding out that a majority percentage of the dust in people's houses are dead skin cells from their own skin.

I understand that this particular dust is a result of our skin shedding old cells while creating new ones. But once it's in our house, does it have a natural function? Did it have a function when we were cavemen?

It would be interesting if it actually functions like our own way of marking our territory without even thinking about it. Or, maybe it's completely useless. Equally interesting to me, since I'm just curious :{o~


 

Offline RD

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Re: Do our dead skin cells (dust) have a function?
« Reply #1 on: 26/08/2012 07:05:46 »
I remember finding out that a majority percentage of the dust in people's houses are dead skin cells from their own skin.

That's a myth ...

Quote
The myth

The chief ingredient of household dust is human skin; 70, 80 or 99 per cent, in various versions

The "truth"

There seems to be no basis at all for this Well Known Fact – except wishful guesstimating on the part of those advertising copywriters whose job it is to sell us anti-dust devices. There’s no evidence to suggest that dust is mostly made up of any one ingredient; rather, it is a delightful salmagundi or potpourri of everything that is likely to be drifting around your house – cat dander, face powder, cigar ash – or that might be blown in every time you open the door, including soil, pollen, insect excreta, and general industrial pollution. The precise ingredients and proportions present will presumably depend in part on where you live, as well as how – Bognor dust is likely to be sandier than Hackney dust – and on the time of year. Human skin will certainly be on the list, but it is shed chiefly when washing, and therefore disappears down the plughole, not into the dustpan.
http://www.forteantimes.com/strangedays/mythbusters/1044/dust.html


Quote
Why is this silly story about mattresses full of dust mites (various species of the subclass Acari, to get technical) being bruited about all of a sudden? Because there's a buck in it. Some folks are allergic to dust mites (actually dust-mite feces), and it may make sense for them to buy filters, vacuum cleaners, and other gimmicks that promise to get rid of the little bastards. Most people aren't allergic, but what the heck, if the hucksters can scare the pants off you, maybe you'll buy all that stuff anyway.
http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2545/does-a-mattress-double-its-weight-due-to-dust-mites-and-their-debris
« Last Edit: 26/08/2012 07:14:33 by RD »
 

Offline ConfusedHermit

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Re: Do our dead skin cells (dust) have a function?
« Reply #2 on: 26/08/2012 11:29:41 »
Oh snap, debunked :{o~

Okay, so let's get into the hypothetical. In the rare case of dust coming entirely from a human (with no pets, bugs, food or anything else that could cause dust), does that dust do anything other than sit there?

Dust mites eat dust, but what if the human left and some other animal entered? What does dust from another living thing mean to them? Do they recognize something lived there?
« Last Edit: 26/08/2012 11:34:58 by ConfusedHermit »
 

Offline Boogie

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Re: Do our dead skin cells (dust) have a function?
« Reply #3 on: 26/08/2012 15:59:20 »
The only use I can think of is to provide food for dust mites.  :P

I don't know if dogs can follow our scent due to our skin dust or not. Perhaps? 
 

Offline RD

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Re: Do our dead skin cells (dust) have a function?
« Reply #4 on: 26/08/2012 21:30:01 »
... skin shedding old cells while creating new ones ... does it have a natural function?

Shedding skin is a way of combating microbial contamination ...

Quote
The shedding of skin is a general means to control the build up flora upon the skin surface.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skin_flora#Skin_defenses
« Last Edit: 26/08/2012 21:31:44 by RD »
 

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Re: Do our dead skin cells (dust) have a function?
« Reply #4 on: 26/08/2012 21:30:01 »

 

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