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Dust Might.
Dust as a health hazard

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Dust Might . . .

           Well, I did it to myself AGAIN. I set myself up to get a dandy sinus infection. Now that I am through with the coughing, wheezing, runny nose, sleepless nights and fever, I am pledging to myself to be much more diligent to protect my respiratory tract.

           The last time this happened was last February. I was working at the construction site of a large custom house. The exterior of the house was to be entirely natural flagstone. The stone masons who had the contract for the exterior stonework made all their cuts with a dry saw. Every day, they would place their saw upwind of the job site and cover the everything with clouds of fine dust. The junk I breathed lead to a sinus infection and a nagging cold that lingered for six weeks. I swore I wouldn't get caught in such a situation again.

           So, last week, I was trying to clear my way to an air conditioner in an attic space. As attics go, this one was very spacious. It had room to stand upright and fluorescent lighting to boot. That is the good news. The bad news is, like most spacious attics with fluorescent lighting, this attic was chock full typical attic stuff: stuff that is too good to throw out but not good enough to keep. I was in the process of moving of all of the old records, broken Christmas decorations and silk ficus trees away from the air handler, when a bolt of upholstery fabric fell over.

           It was a fairly large bolt of fabric; roughly nine inches in diameter and 54 inches tall. It was standing on end hiding behind two silk ficus trees. I suppose the silk ficus trees were somehow helping to prop up the bolt of fabric because when I moved the trees, the fabric toppled. There was nowhere to run. The heavy roll of fabric hit the attic floor with a thump and a billowing cloud of dust . Twenty years of dust, mouse dander, fly wings, spider webs became airborne in an instant. Trapped, all I could do was hold an old rag over my face and mutter expletives.

           I imagine thousands of little spores, microbes and viruses found my sinus cavity to be a warm and pleasant new home. It took them a only few hours to get settled in but it wasn't long before they had their things unpacked. They probably had little welcome parties and social mixers to get to know all the new neighbors. And then, with their snug and warm sinus units all decorated, it was time to start their families. They wasted no time.

           After a miserable week, I am on the road to recovery. Just now, I am on the way to the store some more tissues, cough medicine and some more throat lozenges. While I am there, I am also going to buy some disposable dust masks. I wouldn't think of reporting to work without steel-toed shoes. Every ding in my hard hat represents a bump or bruise that my noggin didn't absorb. I wear protective eyeglasses and always carry a pair of ear plugs. Starting today, I am going to add a disposable dust mask to my daily personal protection inventory. The price is minimal. I should have done it a long time ago.

           For an excellent, easy - to - understand, infromative medical paper on sinus infections, colds and flu, consult: UC Davis Medical Center / Sinusitis

           Do you want to know if there is a "bug" going around your neighborhood? Type your Zip Code into The Respiratory Tract Infection Alert System to track the latest trends in reported cases of respiratory tract infections in your area.


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