before they are suitable as mite food. Since water is not readily available in the carpet, the mites depend upon the absorbed moisture for their entire water needs.
DUST MITES & THEIR HABITAT
Dust mites are extremely tiny bugs that belong to the spider family. They live in house dust and feed on the dead skin cells that people regularly shed. Dust mites can survive in all climates and at most altitudes. Thriving in warm environments, preferring those at 70°F (21°C) and 70 percent relative humidity.
When you breathe in the waste products of dust mites, your immune system kicks into high gear, as a result, it will produce antibodies against the normally harmless substances. This overzealous immune response causes the symptoms associated with a dust mite allergy, such as sneezing and runny nose.
Aside from allergy symptoms, long-term exposure to dust mite allergens may lead to sinus infections and asthma.
Dust Mite Habitat
First of all, dust mites require food, moisture, and a dark warm habitat. Furthermore, it needs a narrow range of high temperature and humidity conditions to thrive. Its populations show optimal growth at conditions between 18oC to 25oC and 60% to 70% relative humidity. When the relative humidity falls below 50%, the dust mites desiccate and die.
The dust mites feed on the dead scales of skin, as a result, the scales become too dry when they flake off the human body for the mites to eat so, they need to condition in a moist atmosphere for a few days to absorb water from the air, and to promote the growth of miniature surface moulds,
Bedding offers ideal conditions for dust mites to live and thrive which are not dependent upon the ambient relative humidity of the bedroom. We spend approximately one-third of our lives in bed during the time our body loses approximately one liter of water each night through perspiration and breathing. During this period the body continues to shed skin scales which are concentrated in a relatively confined area, therefore, the bed provides a dark, warm, humid and food rich environment for the dust mite with long periods of intimate contact between bedding nose and throat.
The real key to controlling dust mite populations is to control the temperature and most importantly, relative humidity indoors to prevent the warm, humid conditions that dust mites need to live. The easiest way to achieve this is to ensure good ventilation in the home, most importantly, in bedrooms, and also avoid excessive temperatures.
The physical action of vacuum cleaning will probably provide sufficient agitation of the carpet surface to allow allergen particles to be stirred up into the atmosphere.
The action of opening windows during and, for a period after, vacuum cleaning will ventilate the room, as a result, it removes the allergen from the air.
One additional benefit of regular vacuum cleaning is the removal of skin flakes from the surface of the carpet before they condition (i.e. absorb moisture) therefore, they become edible for the dust mite. Above all, this reduction in available food supply will reduce mite populations.
Occasional wet extraction cleaning of the carpet is also to be recommended to reduce deep-seated dust and steam cleaning has also been found to be particularly efficient at removing a high proportion of allergen and completely killing the dust mite population.
When a household is ventilated and vacuum cleaning of a normal frequency and intensity is carried out, carpet in homes:
- Will not hold sufficient food for dust mites to survive,
- Will contain minimal allergen loads on the surface waiting to become airborne.
- Will not provide an indoor environment for dust mites to live.
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