Ceiling fans are convenient home appliances that increase a room's comfort, but those spinning blades may also be redistributing dust mites, pet dander and other allergens back into the air. A dusty ceiling fan can affect indoor air quality and aggravate existing allergies and respiratory conditions.
Warm air naturally rises towards the ceiling. Ceiling fans work to equalize the temperature distribution by pushing the warm air downwards, forcing the cool air to circulate more evenly.
Dust is comprised of charged particles that become attracted to the rotating fan blades as they create friction with the air and develop an electric charge.
According to science writer David Bodanis, dust particles are made up of a range of harmful allergens that are regularly released into the air. Components of dust particles often include dead skin cells, dust mite and cockroach droppings, pet dander, and pollen.
The American Asthma Foundation reported that asthma affects 1 in 13 people in America, while the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology estimated that nearly 55% of Americans are susceptible to household allergens. The AAF also discovered that dust mites trigger asthma by confusing the immune system.
Home owners can regulate movement of airborne allergens by cleaning ceiling fans regularly, or installing fan filters that trap dust and bacteria.