The Narratives of Dust: plastic microfibres

“There shall be in that rich dust a richer dust concealed”

Where it is left to settle and left undisturbed, dust will form an informative, yet fragile grey stratum. If they avoid the gaze of the avid cleaner, these deposits can be ancient and being made mostly of shed human skin, animal dander, and fabric microfibres, a layer of dust, like sedimentary rock, can hold a fragile record of life, passage and occupation. Here I have collected a small sample of dust from an area less than the size of a quarter of a 5 pence piece, in a corridor. Under the microscope, at 100x-magnification, the grey looking dust is revealed to be a  mixture of human skin keratinocytes and also vast mats of plain, and coloured,  synthetic  fabric microfibres, that can only have come from clothing. To find all this in a tiny speck of dust is striking, but also deeply disturbing in the context of the amount of this material that we leak into the natural environment.

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