You won’t be hard pressed to find different shows on the Discovery Channel or Food Network documenting some of the weird things people eat. Insects, rodents, you name it, someone’s eaten it. What if I told you, there’s something you eat that could earn you a spot on the next episode of Bizarre Foods? As it turns out, the average person ingests about 100 milligrams of dirt every single day. Overall, that equates to roughly six pounds of dirt in an average lifespan! That’s right, dirt is actually a pretty common staple of the human diet.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that the dirt we eat has two categories: soil and dust. Just over half (55%) of what we eat is dust and just under half (45%) is soil.
Different types of dirt consumption
Most of the time, the dirt we eat is unintentional. Dirt consumption comes in a variety of different ways. Some common forms of it include:
- Soil ingestion – the consumption of soil. This can come in many different forms, such as eating food off of the ground, eating without washing hands prior, ingesting dust, etc.
- Soil-pica – the recurrent ingestion of unusually high amounts of soil or other nonfood items
- Geophagy – intentional ingestion of soil. It’s often coupled with cultural practices and religious beliefs
Most people would agree that the average human body is composed of 50-to-70% water. But what if I said that parts of your body could also be composed of dirt? An author spearheading a dirt consumption study wrote, “Most solids that make up humans and other creatures either are now or recently were dirt … transformed by sunlight into plants or animals.”
Are we safe?
No need to panic though, the amount of dirt consumed by the average person isn’t enough to create serious health issues. The lungs are designed to clean and filter the air we breathe. They come equipped with different defenses specializing in removing dust particles from our air supply.
Still skeptical? To avoid respiratory issues associated with extreme dust inhalation, here are a few steps you can take around the house to make sure dust amounts are minimized:
- Housekeeping with regularity prevents large amounts of dust and other respiratory irritants from settling over furniture and appliances
- Use vacuums instead of brooms (vacuum collection systems are a great way to consolidate and remove large amounts of dust)
- Wipe counters and surfaces down with damp rags
There’s no way to escape dirt. It’s inevitable, and now and again we’ll likely ingest it in one form or another. Don’t worry, it isn’t lethal and you probably won’t even notice it when it happens. Just think of it as Mother Nature’s special seasoning, even if we didn’t ask for it.