University of Ottawa NMR Facility Web Site

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Household Dust (Bunnies)

Many people will be celebrating Easter this coming weekend. Children will be searching for Easter eggs left by the Easter Bunny. A word of caution though: Not all bunnies are cute!

Household dust bunnies seem to magically reproduce and grow. They must be collected regularly either with a broom or a vacuum cleaner and disposed of. What exactly is household dust? A bit of internet searching reveals that household dust is composed largely of fibers from clothing, dead human skin and the bodies of dust mites - a very disgusting mixture indeed. The top trace in the figure below is the 13C CPMAS NMR spectrum of a sample of household dust. The middle trace is a similar spectrum of clothing fibers from a sample of dryer lint. The difference spectrum (in the bottom trace) is consistent with a complex mixture of proteins and largely represents the spectrum of dead human skin and the bodies of dust mites.

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