“Can cat hair get into my lungs?”

How would cat fur bypass the body’s protective mechanisms?

Cilia

Mucus

Various tubes of decreasing size

“The size of particles is directly linked to their potential for causing health problems. EPA is concerned about particles that are 10 micrometers in diameter or smaller because those are the particles that generally pass through the throat and nose and enter the lungs. Once inhaled, these particles can affect the heart and lungs and cause serious health effects.”

Particulate Matter/Air &Radiation US EPA

Is fur 10 micrometers or less? No. If fur is pulverized into dust, then perhaps it could enter the lungs. Groomers inhale particles, but are the particles small enough and in high enough volume to cause lung problems later in life? That I don’t know. Since high-velocity dryers are currently a standard grooming salon tool, I would guess that more particles are being blown around nowadays. In earlier years, a “stand dryer” or a human-style blow dryer was used to dry pets.

What I do know is that you will not see a furry lung if you autopsy a groomer.

“Since the late 1970’s, we only monitored particulate matter pollution that was 10 microns in diameter or less, called PM 10. A micron (or micrometer) is a millionth of a meter. To give you an idea of how small PM 10 is, the dot above the letter “i” in a typical newspaper measures about 400 microns!”  From Hamilton County Environmental Services website. Good site!

Note: Micron = micrometer = millionth part of a meter.  A meter is 39.37 inches. PM = Particulate Matter.

“PM is the term used for solid or liquid particles emitted to the air. Some particles are large enough to be seen, and others are so small they can only be detected with an electron microscope.”

Relevant article from NAILS Magazine: “If You Can’t See It, You Can’t Inhale It.” Take home message: “Particles that are small enough to remain airborne and possibly be inhaled are not visible to the naked eye. In other words, says Will Forest, associate toxicologist for the Hazard Evaluation System Information Service of the California Department of Health Services, “If you can see it, you can’t inhale it.”

Micrometer

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