Spring is the time of year we start experiencing the sniffling and sneezing caused by seasonal allergies. While many people suffer from seasonal allergies – some experience these symptoms year-round. Dust mite allergies are a common trigger for asthma, non-seasonal allergies, and atopic dermatitis and can effect those who are allergic year-round. Here are some tips of mite reduction, dust mite facts and information.
- 10% of the human population is allergic to the waste of these little creepy crawlies and 80% of allergy suffers are sensitive to them as well.
- Dust mites thrive in temperatures 68-70℉ and a RH of 70-80%
- The America College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology estimates that as many as 90% of people with allergic asthma are sensitive to dust mites, and at least 45% of young people with asthma are allergic to dust mites
Dust Mite Control Tips
- A dehumidifier can help bring humidity down below 50% RH where dust mites cannot survive. This is one of the easiest ways to control dust mite populations in your home.
- Use micro-filtration bags in your vacuum this can help keep mites and mite wast from being recirculated back into the air.
- Use dust proof zip-able covers on mattresses and pillows.
- Dust mites are too small to be seen with the naked eye but when seen on a microscope they are light in color and have eight legs
- Mites feed on dead skin
- The average lifespan of a dust mite is 80 days
- There are 13 different types of dust mites, the most common species in the United States are the Dermatophagoides Farinae and the D. Pteronyssinus.
- Common dust mite hiding spots include mattresses, bed linen, upholstered furniture, long-fiber carpets, and soft toys
There are many sources that can cause moisture in your home, including:
- Plumbing, flashing, and roof leaks
- Damp basements and crawl spaces
- Cooking, showering, and indoor line drying of clothes
- Improperly vented combustion appliances and clothes dryers
- Flooding and sewer backups
- Poorly maintained gutters, downspouts and drains
- Landscaping and plants that block crawl space vents and drainage systems
While some signs of excess moisture maybe obvious, like condensation on windows, often times they are hidden in the crawl spaces and basements of the home. This polluted air below the house will eventually move to the rest of the house, often times carrying odors, contributing to poor indoor air quality and causing uncomfortably high humidity levels. Studies show that as much as 50 percent of the air in a home comes from these below-grade areas.
Moisture is also the fuel that feeds the fire for mold. Mold needs water to grow – without it mold cannot grow. Mold also needs a food source and a temperature between 40 degrees and 100 degrees F.
Effects of Moisture on Your Home
Excess moisture in your basement or crawl space can cause mold to grow. Mold can grow in or on almost anything in your home, including furniture, carpet, wood, dry wall, and insulation. Too much moisture can also cause wood to buckle, split and even rot, which may weaken the structure of your home. It can even cause peeling, chipping or cracking of paint.
Effects of Moisture on Your Health
Mold, bacteria, cockroaches, and dust mites have been linked to triggering allergies and asthma attacks and may even cause children who do not have allergies or asthma to develop either condition. Exposure can cause coughing, sneezing, wheezing, upper respiratory irritation and asthma symptoms.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s offers A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home.
Studies have shown that as much as 50% of the air in a home comes up from the basement or crawlspace. This air is often higher in moisture content, and carries with it various allergens and musty odors. The Environmental Protection Agency, American Lung Association, and American Medical Association all recommend maintaining RH in the 30% – 50% range.
When conditions linger above 60% RH for extended periods of time; mold, mildew, and bacteria grow.
A commercial grade Santa Fe high efficiency dehumidifier is designed to consistently maintain 50% or less RH in crawlspaces and basements.
Research out of the UK finds common household dust mites may be a factor in as many as 80 percent of asthmas, hay fevers and other allergic ailments. Along with respiratory symptoms, high levels of dust mite allergens have also been correlated with atopic dermatitis (AD), characterized by itchy, irritated skin.
Dust mite allergens are considered one of the most potent allergens in household dust. Their body parts and fecal excreta are initially 10 to 50 mm in diameter but break down into smaller fragments that become airborne when dust is disturbed. According to one study, more than half the weight of mite allergens within a home was found to be less than 5 mm in length. Because of their small size, fecal material is the primary health concern due to the fact that they can be inhaled into the lower airways of the lungs.
Dust mites are microscopic hardy creatures that live and multiply easily in warm, humid places. They thrive at temperatures at or above 70 degrees with a relative humidity of 75 percent to 80 percent. They die when the humidity falls below 50 percent. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI), to reduce dust mites, it is important to keep humidity below 50 percent throughout the home.
It has been proven that there is a dramatic reduction in dust mite population when humidity is controlled in the home, but many people struggle with finding a dehumidifier that can accomplish this. The most effective and efficient solution is to use a quality, high capacity dehumidifier that controls humidity levels throughout the entire home.
Santa Fe dehumidifiers feature a large moisture removal coil, regenerative heat exchanger and high capacity fan, which allow the units to remove 2-3 times more moisture per kilowatt of electricity than a conventional dehumidifier. All units come with at least a MERV 8 filter, and most come standard with MERV 11 filtration capabilities. Santa Fe freestanding residential units are built with the same components as the company’s commercial units and as a result are able to remove up to four times more water than the units available at home improvement stores. All Santa Fe dehumidifiers are ENERGY STAR® rated.
AAAAI also recommends these solutions to control dust mites:
- Removing wall-to-wall carpeting
- Encasing mattresses, box springs and pillows
- Wash bedding weekly in hot water (130°F)
- Use a HEPA filter-equipped vacuum
- The National Survey of Lead and Allergens in Housing, an NIEHS study, discovered that 84.2 percent of U.S. homes had detectable dust mite allergen in their beds.
- The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology estimates that as many as 90 percent of people with allergic asthma are sensitive to dust mites, and at least 45 percent of young people with asthma are allergic to dust mites