If you are thinking of buying an air purifier in order to combat the problem of book dust, then there are a few things that you need to be aware of in order to make sure that you achieve maximum success. If you haven’t considered the idea of an air purifier yet, then it is important that you appreciate the real problems associated with dusty books as they extend far beyond being merely an unsightly nuisance.
Dust itself is very harmful, being comprised of a wide range of toxins, pathogens, waste and decaying organic matter, and breathing this in is every bit as dangerous as smoking tobacco, It has long been known that long term exposure to dust will result in a wide range of respiratory illnesses and can be a prime cause of premature death, but in addition it has recently been identified that dusty books can be one of the worst ways of becoming exposed to dust.
The problem is that dust is attracted to books. This is a fact, and is caused as a result of the polarization of dust in the air and the paper from which the books are made. As they share the same polarization, the two are attracted to each other in a similar way that dust is attracted to a television screen and will cling unremittingly.
However, as a book is opened, a current of air is created and a cloud of dust blown directly into the face of the reader. As each page is turned, more dust is driven into their face and much of this is breathed in. This is bad news for librarians, as well as for those who spend considerable time with books.
Although it is important to keep the very serious health risks associated with book dust in mind, it isn’t the only problem that you should be aware of. Book dust will become home to dust mites and book lice, encouraging the rapid decline in quality of the books. Book lice particularly will eat away at the glue used in the binding process, resulting in books falling apart.
Using a HEPA air will help resolve the problem quickly if used as part of an overall plan of action. The following three methods should be used in helping to combat book dust and eliminate it as far as possible from your library or book cases.
1. Book Jackets — Using an air purifier to extract dust from the air is certainly a valuable and helpful way of combating the problem, but part of the problem lies in the fact that dust doesn’t remain in the air for long. The reason for this is the fact that dust is drawn towards paper and books almost like a magnet. This is because, as with magnets, like attracts like, and both dust and paper share the same polarization.
One way of combating this is to have the books covered in a material which has a different polarization and therefore does not attract dust. This will leave more dust in the air that the air purifier will collect. One part of the solution is to cover books with plastic jackets, as plastic does not attract dust in the same way that paper does.
2. Dust Removal — It will be important to remove the existing dust. This can be achieved easily by using either soft gloves or a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment. Make sure you wear a face mask while doing this, and have your air purifier working close by to collect and trap the dust which will be stirred up into the air.
3. Air Purification — Clearly one of the most fundamental ways of helping to prevent dust from settling back on books is to lower the amount of dust in the air. Dust particles can actually be extremely small, being only a few microns in diameter. This needs a filtering technique which is able to trap even the smallest of dust particles, in a way which prevents it from escaping again.
A HEPA or high efficiency particle arresting air purifier will be able to trap almost all of the dust floating in the air. This will, over time, help to prevent dust from settling back on your books, keeping them clean and safe, as well as improving the overall air quality.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that as well as helping to combat the problem of book dust, an air purifier will also help to guard against a number of other airborne problems. These include fungal spores and even bacteria and viruses. Fungal spores are unpleasant and likely to worsen asthmatic symptoms, trigger allergies and result in mold and mildew damage to the books. An effective air purifier will essentially eliminate book dust and its threats to books, paper, and health.