Link Between Dust and Fat Proven

Research Shows a Link Between Dust & Increased Production of Fat Cells

Tiny dust particles visible in light floating in the air are small molecules of aerosols, dust, viruses or microbes and among other health hazards, can cause you to gain weight.

I’ll bet you didn’t know that dust commonly found in indoor environments could be making you gain weight? Neither did I until I heard about this study done at Duke University. The study shows that common compounds found in dust may be increasing the production of fat cells in your body, making you gain weight! According to the findings, diet and exercise are not be the only factors that make your body store fat, the hygienic state of your environment, where you live, work and exercise, may also have a big bearing on how much you weigh.

How the Study was Carried Out

Recently, some scientists have been focusing their attention on figuring out if environmental contaminants have the capacity to disrupt the metabolism of humans and other animals. In the study carried out at Duke University, scientists sought to assess the ability of extracts from indoor dust and other semi-volatile organic chemicals commonly found in indoor environments, to affect fat cells.

During the study, samples of common household dust were taken from 11 different homes in North Carolina, and they were tested for contaminants. Across all the samples, 44 separate types of contaminants were discovered. The scientists then went ahead to test the effect of each type of contaminant on mouse cells that are meant to store energy in form of fat (the cells used in the study are known as 3T3-L1 cells, and they usually form adipose tissue in mice). This is a significant finding because mouse cells function similarly to human cells, which is why they are commonly used in scientific studies to model the reaction of human cells.

What the Researchers Found

Of all the contaminants that were tested, 3 were found to cause the biggest reactions on the fat cells in subject mice. The three compounds are:

  1. tertbutyl-phenyl phosphate, which is a commonly used agricultural pesticide,
  2. pyraclostrobin which is a flame retardant that’s used in the manufacture of carpets, sofa sets and other household fabrics, and
  3. dibutyl phthalate, a plasticiser that’s commonly found in floor sealants, plastics, and some cosmetics (https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.est.7b01788).

These compounds are now known as endocrine disruptors because of their ability to interfere with the metabolic function of cells. Some people also refer to them as “obesogens” because of their ability to cause weight gain.

Apart from causing weight gain or obesity, endocrine disruptors are also thought to cause immune disorders, fertility issues, some forms of cancer, as well as neurological issues and premature puberty in children. The study also found.

  • 10 out of the 11 samples of dust that were collected caused a significant increase of fat on the cells.
  • 7 samples caused cells that were previously undifferentiated to grow into mature fat cells and to accumulate more fat.
  • Contaminants found in 9 of the samples caused the multiplication of undifferentiated cells (which are precursor fat cells).
  • Only 1 of the 11 samples didn’t create weight gaining conditions in the cells!

Conclusions from the Research

The scientists at Duke University concluded:

  1. Chemicals that cause weight gain are prevalent in most households and indoor environments (10 out of 11 houses had “obesogens”).
  2. They also concluded that it doesn't require much dust for weight gain to be triggered (only 3 micrograms of dust were enough to trigger the reaction, which is alarming because it's estimated that children are exposed to about 50,000 micrograms of dust on a daily basis)

The findings of the study are clear and quite conclusive, dust can indeed cause weight gain and is a significant health hazard. If you live, work, study or exercise in a dusty environment, the “obesogens” can enter your body in a number of ways. They can get in your system through the air that you breathe in, or they could land on your food or drinks and you could ingest them.

So What Can We all Do?

Well, for starters you should try and keep your environment as dust free as possible. This applies both at home and in the workplace. At home, ensure that you frequently vacuum your carpet or hard floor to keep off the dust. In the workplace, you should hire a professional commercial cleaning company like Smart Cleaning Solutions to make sure that you and your employees work in clean surroundings every day. Also, on a personal note, don’t tolerate dusty, untidy schools, kindergartens or exercise facilities because the compounds attached to dust floating in the air may indeed be a health hazard.

Who’d have ever thought that being clean could help you stay lean?