Our houses are homes to more than just people. According to a study by the Smithsonian Institute in the USA, on average there are between 32 and 211 different species that live alongside us. Some of these species are easy to spot (the occasional fly or wasp will usually make itself known), but many of the creatures that live in our houses are too small to see without a microscope, and many people are unaware of their presence.
One of the most common creatures that live in our homes is the dust mite. These tiny animals – less than a third of a millimetre in length are almost impossible to see with the naked eye but can number in the millions in an average home.
As their name suggest, dust mites consume household dust, but this doesn’t mean that they’re a friendly creature that helps to keep our houses clean. Instead, they can cause severe problems for some people because of the waste that they produce.
It’s unpleasant to think about, but with every breath you take in a dusty house, you’re breathing in tiny dust mite droppings. Measuring less than a 20th of a millimetre in length, dust mite droppings are incredibly light and can be stirred up by the gentle currents of air we create as we move around. Once in our airways, the tiny particles can cause a severe allergic reaction, and are a common trigger for asthma attacks.
The chemical in the dust mite poop that causes the allergic reaction is called Tropomyosin, and it is the same chemical that in larger quantities causes the shellfish allergy which can be fatal.
Dust mites are so small and prevalent that there isn’t much you can do to eradicate them completely from any home, however there are things that you can do to make your house less welcoming for them and prevent their numbers from getting out of control.
Dust mites thrive in damp and humid conditions with poor air flow. Damper conditions are friendly for dust mites because they allow dust to settle in larger amounts. The dust “sticks” to the damp surface, which creates a feast for the mites, and also protects them.
Damp is caused by a variety of factors including water rising up from the ground your home is built on but can also be generated as a result of household condensation. When warm moist air from bathing or cooking comes into contact with cold surfaces such as walls, it can no longer hold as much water vapour, so the moisture is released onto the surface in small droplets. When this moisture soaks into the underlying surface, it creates a damp patch where mould can grow, and where dust mites can thrive.
Thankfully there are things that you can do to reduce the presence of dust mites in your home.
Regularly cleaning to remove as much dust as you can is essential. Clean from top to bottom, removing dust from surfaces, and using a surface polish to create a surface where dust cannot simply settle back immediately. Once you have cleaned all surfaces, finish by vacuum cleaning the room to remove as much dust as possible. Empty your vacuum cleaner as often as possible and clean the filters regularly to ensure that it picks up as much as possible and doesn’t simply spread dust around.
Preventing damp in your home where dust mites will gather requires improvements to your ventilation. If you have a condensation problem, simply opening a window to let in fresh air won’t be enough to prevent damp from forming.
Good ventilation through your home will keep humidity levels under control and will also help to prevent dust from building up in areas without good air flow.
By taking away the conditions that dust mites need to thrive, you can take steps to reduce their population, and this in turn will reduce the amount of exposure you have to the allergens in their waste.
Dust mite allergies can be particularly risky for people with respiratory conditions such as asthma, and it is important to do what you can to reduce their presence in your home. If you are concerned about the presence of dust mites in your home, contact us today to book your free home ventilation survey. Our local specialists will visit your home and identify the causes of damp in your property to provide you with advice about the best way of preventing Condensation related problems in the future. Simply entre your postcode below to find your local expert.
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