The Dust Bowl

The Great Depression of the 1930s was bad.

But then, Mother Nature figuratively rubbed dirt into the struggling country with the onset of the Dust Bowl.

The cause of the Dust Bowl is linked to drought and deep plowing techniques that destroyed the deep-rooted grasslands that trapped topsoil and moisture. Areas most affected included the Texas Panhandle, Oklahoma, and parts of New Mexico, Colorado, and Kansas. Millions of people were displaced and destitute and many “Okies” headed to California looking for work. Author John Steinbeck accurately described the plight of the displaced farm families in his1939 book “The Grapes of Wrath”. Millions of microscopic dust grains, just like ones from the original Dust Bowl make their way into typical American homes each day. There, it mingles with pollens, pet dander, human hair, and skin cells that we constantly shed. Homeowners wage a constant battle against dust using chemical sprays, regular washing of bed sheets and bedding materials, and of course, the vacuum cleaner. Another dust battling weapon is the home’s central HVAC system. The main job of an HVAC system is to control temperature and humidity. Its filtration system is designed to keep dust from entering the HVAC equipment, but it also removes dust from the home’s air in the process. Another way the HVAC can help with the chore of dusting is to set the thermostat to the “fan-only” setting while vacuuming and keep it on for a few minutes after. Vacuum cleaners will pick up the larger particles but smaller bits of dust like the ones from the original Dust Bowl will be sent into the air once again. With the HVAC blower fan running that floating dust will be drawn to the return vents and captured by the filter.


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