FunHome: who are the tiny unknown ‘pets’ in your home?

How can you participate?

Each participant should select at least one home (one of these preferably their own) for dust sampling. Samples should be collected using cotton swabs (or swabs from analogous material) from four places in each home:

  1. the upper surface of house’s exterior door = front door rim (door leading to outside of house)
  2. the upper surface of interior door rim (door separating living rooms in the flat)
  3. the upper surface of bathroom door rim,
  4. corner of a floor in a living room.

The exterior door represents dust that originates mostly from outside of house. The interior door indicates dust generated in living rooms and/or kitchen, whereas the bathroom door characterises dust and microbiota in the bathroom. The dust on upper door rims has typically accumulated for a long time. The floor corner represents heavier particles and more recent dust because of more common wiping and gives an idea about seasonality of dust components. From each four places, one dust sample should be collected with a sterile swab, preferably of type that can be placed into a separate holder tube. Swab samples should be taken from 50 cm (20 inch) long SINGLE gentle scrape of the surface of the door rim (Figure 1; do NOT moisten the swab!).  


For each sample and home, the following important information should be recorded:

  1. Date of collection
  2. Full Address
  3. What is the approximate age of your building? Is it renovated?
  4. What kind of heating system you use during the winter?
  5. Do you have a mechanical or natural ventilation? 
  6. Time since last cleaned, if known (relevant mostly for floor corner)
  7. The number of residents?
  8. Do you have domestic animals? Which?
  9. Do you have houseplant(s) and how many?
  10. Have you noticed condensation water on your windows in the winter?
  11. Have you noticed mould problems in bathroom?
  12. Have you had recently (within 3 months) water leaks, plumbing leaks etc?
  13. Do you suspect being allergic to components of dust?
  14. Email or twitter contact or telephone of the contributor

For answering to these questions, just download Microsoft Office document icon funhome-questionnaire.doc, fill in the blanks and thereafter send it by e-mail ( or print it out and post it with samples.




Samples from each swab samples should be kept separately and placed in their holder tubes, plastic minigrip bags or small paper envelopes. Swab samples should be posted using ordinary mail directly to the central laboratory:


Dr. Jane Oja                                                      Questions and commentaries:

University of Tartu

Juhan Liivi 2-338

50409 Tartu



PS. Please write, “Samples for research use only (All the materials are not hazardous, not infectious, not dangerous, not toxic and not radioactive)” on the airway bill and declare USD1.00 as value of customs.