What's in your household dust?  You may be surprised to learn that you can tell a lot about what goes on in a home based on its dust. Or more specifically, the bacterial populations that live in and on that dust.

Yuck, I know.  But still true.

Not only that, but researchers have found that bacterial populations found in household dust may determine whether or not a child living in that home develops asthma.  This is according to research published in the April 2010 issue of the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

In the study, testing on samples of collected house dust showed that bacterial populations are greatly impacted by the presence of pets and whether or not children attend day care.  In fact, there were even differences in bacterial populations depending upon how many pets were in a home and how often children attended day car.  And the differences in dust bacteria were correlated with asthma development in children.  In other words, the more pets you have and the more often your child attends day care, the more likely it is that your child will develop asthma later in life.

I think it's important to note that the study's authors are not suggesting that the dust itself is causing children to develop asthma.  Nor is it the bacteria in the dust.  Rather, they are noting a connection between the presence of higher and differing populations of bacteria in the household dust of homes where certain "activities" (pet ownership and day car attendance) occur.  

So don't get out your dust rag just yet.  But if think your child may be developing asthma, talk to your health care provider about how pets and/or daycare attendance may be affecting her health.

Dirty dust and childhood asthma
Could your household dust determine whether or not your child develops asthma?