Shed skin reduces indoor air pollution

A new study published in the journal of the American Chemical Society, Environmental Science and Technology, has tested the house dust of 500 children’s bedrooms and 151 daycare centres in Odense, Denmark, and found that far from being harmful, skin flakes are actually a beneficial component of house dust.

Charles Weschler and colleagues explain that humans shed their whole outer layer of skin every 2-4 weeks. The skin flakes contain oils including cholesterol and squalene. Past research on the air in aeroplanes suggests that squalene reduces the levels of ozone in the cabins. Ozone is a pollutant that can irritate the eyes, nose and throat, and worsen asthma symptoms. The scientists analyzed dust samples from the children’s bedrooms and daycare centres to try and work out how the substances in skin flakes affect indoor air pollution, and found that squalene does indeed reduce indoor ozone levels by 2 to 15 percent.

Source: American Chemical Society

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First Published in May 2011

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