Application Technology - Dust Mite and Allergen-Management
Dust mites are common co inhabitants in all housholds. They live off dead human and animal skin.
For most people they do not represent any kind of danger. However, they may trigger allergic reactions in some of us.
The connection between dust mites and allergies was first discovered in the year 1964. Since then the link between a dust mite allergy and asthma has been confirmed in a number of studies worldwide.
A study which was made in the year 1967, the results of which were published in the renowned “Journal of Allergy”, showed proof that the main factor which contributes to the common household dust allergy are dust mites.
In a number of studies which have been conducted since, proof was presented showing that dust mite allergy is directly linked to asthma, allergic rhinitis, and atopic exzema.
In order to battle this disease successfully the affected need to either seek treatment with expensive medication or avoid an exposure to dust mites completely. One should keep in mind that continuous exposure to dust mites can lead to chronic sickness for the affected patients.
Allergies affect approximately 20% of the population - most of these people suffer from allergic rhinitis. Asthma, which is often caused by allergies, affects about 10% of the population.
However, in contrast to seasonal pollen allergies, a dust mite allergy is something one has to deal with all year round.
A study made in Denmark postulates that the presence of more than 100 dust mites per gram of dust may be weighed as a high risk for asthma. Other studies found this value to range between 100 and 500 dust mites per gram of dust.
The past 25 years have seen the discovery of a great number of different forms of dust mite allergy as well as their anti-bodies. More important, howerver, is the fact that a number of low-cost procedures exist which allow the measurement of dust mite allergies.
It is also a fact that it is not the dust mites themselves which cause the allergy but rather their feces. These feces are very small particles which are easily airborne and therefore carried into our lungs.
What exactly are dust mites?
Dust mites belong to the species called acari. They are very close relatives of spiders, ticks, and scorpions and are eight-legged just like them. They may be found in all possible surroundings - in large numbers. Dust mites are microscopically small and may not be seen with the naked eye.
Their main source of food are dandruff from dry, dead skin and/or fungi that live on skin. However, there are also other food sources available to them.
They live in dust and thrive off the dandruff from humans and animals (humans lose approximately 1.5 grams of skin per day) as well as feathers, fibres, etc.
It is important to realize that there is enough dead skin in the form of dandruff in any household to allow dust mites to survive over extended periods of time, even if the household is not visited by humans or animals for a month or more.
Dust mites prefer temperatures between 20° and 28°C and a relative humidity between 65 and 85%.
In the northern hemisphere this temperature range is applicable in the months ranging from May until October. Therefore the number or rather density of dust mites is highest during these months.
The relative humidity determines the reproductive behavior of dust mites to a much greater extent than the temperature.
Thus the modern methods used in building construction which result in better insulation and air tight surroundings is directly linked to the rising amount of dust mites.
Dust mites may be found in all places where there are textiles, especially when these consist of natural materials, if only partially: carpets and rugs, upholstery, pillows, matress coverings, blankets, etc.
They may also be found in large numbers wherever there are pets.
The highest density of dust mites is typically found in bed textiles - the highest variety of dust mites is found in carpet and rugs.
In order to successfully reduce the amount of dust regular vacuuming is an absolute necessity. However, vacuuming alone is not successful in reducing the amount of dust mites. Dead dust mites may be removed effectively by vacuuming, live ones may not.
Bed linen, including pillows and matress covers should be washed on a regular basis. The intervals should not be too far apart but have to be determined by the individual.
This helps in reducing the problem but does not eliminate it entirely. In order to acomplish this, all other furnishings have to be cleaned on a regular basis, such as carpets and rugs, upholstery, etc. However, vacuuming alone is not enough.
Another thing to consider is the fact that killing the dust mites alone will also not solve the problem. The feces will remain behind and it is these that trigger the allergic reaction.
A complete and successful management of this problem is thereby only accomplished by killing the dust mites and removing them and their feces.
Bed clothing and other small textile articles which may be treated in a washing machine are readily treatable: our product Ultra Fresh may be used as an additive: one half litre is added to the main washing cycle. The washing will lead to the removal of them and their feces.
Rugs should be given into the hands of a professional cleaner specialized in in-plant cleaning. He may use Ultra Fresh as a pre-treatment prior to the actual washing of the rugs.
A similar procedure is employed when cleaning carpets and upholstery: Ultra Fresh is used as a pre-spray, left to work for some time followed by the normal cleaning procedure. One should keep in mind that the normal cleaning procedure is followed by thorough rinsing with water.
It is important to consider the fact that only regular cleaning in appropriate intervals will lead to an effective management of the problem with a result which is also satisfactory from a health perspective.