Indoor air quality and asthma
The dust mite is living on and with you!
It’s estimated that some 80% of asthmatics are allergic to dust mites. These tiny critters are too small to see but can be present in considerable quantities in soft furnishings and, more worryingly, in our pillows and mattresses.
Their faeces can also float in the air when you shake your bedding or walk over a carpet where they have settled. The inhalation of this allergen can trigger an asthma attack.
Dust mites thrive in humid conditions – just the environment you will have if your home is poorly ventilated.
Using a Positive Input Ventilation (PIV) system will ensure that allergens, pollutants and condensation are removed from the home, creating a hostile environment for dust mites.
Clinical research has proven that this type of whole-home ventilation can significantly control dust mite allergens. Olympic Construction has many satisfied customers who claim considerable relief from their condition after installing a Drimaster or Flatmaster PIV product.
What are dust mites?
Dust mites are related to ticks and spiders and live on our household dust. Most of this dust is our skin, specifically the dead skin we constantly shed. (We know, it’s a grim thought.) This is one of the reasons they thrive in our bedding and mattresses – we lose a large amount of skin overnight, and having such a plentiful supply of food on the doorstep (or pillow) is perfect for a dust mite.
Dust mites can grow up to about 0.3 of a millimetre which, luckily for us, is too small to see with the naked eye. These creatures can be present in our soft furnishings and particularly bedding by the tens of thousands.
All houses contain dust mites. However, some homes have huge numbers, while others have very few. This variation does not depend on cleanliness alone. It is hugely influenced by the house’s moisture (or humidity): dry houses in cold climates or high mountains have very few mites, but homes in temperate climates and typical altitudes, such as most of the general housing stock, will have many more.
An allergy to dust mites can be the most significant cause of an asthma attack. It is estimated by the medical profession that approx. 80% of people with asthma will have an allergy to dust mites.
Life cycle of dust mites
The life cycle of the dust mite is a 3-stage process: egg, larvae, and adult. It takes about 2-3 weeks for the egg to hatch and for the larvae to grow into adults. The adult will live for approximately a month afterwards.
It is the droppings of the dust mite that cause the problems – they contain a residual enzyme that acts as the trigger to cause the allergic reaction or asthma attack.
The droppings are between 10-20 microns in diameter, similar to the size of pollen grains, and are dry and susceptible to becoming statically charged. This means that if they are disturbed by sweeping, hoovering, shaking bed clothes etc., they become airborne for a considerable period. While airborne, it is very easy for them to enter the bronchial system.
So why are moist houses so prone to dust mite infestations?
Very simply, they generate the ideal conditions for the mites to thrive. They are less likely to reproduce in relative humidity below 65%, although they can tolerate wide temperature variations (0-30 ℃). At around 0℃, they enter a comatose-like state but are not killed. The optimum temperature they like for breeding is about 20-25 ℃, just about the same as most of us want to heat our homes.
Humidity, however, is a much more critical factor, and 65-75% relative humidity is ideal for the mites to thrive. These are also the humidity levels that allow condensation, dampness and mould growth problems in homes or properties.
What difference will having a Nuaire Drimaster system installed make?
Understanding how this damaging and invasive creature thrives will help you appreciate why Positive Input Ventilation (PIV) can help to alleviate asthma attacks.
PIV can have three positive effects on the home:
- With this ventilation mode, the moisture-laden air throughout the home is gently diluted and replaced with tempered, fresh, filtered and drier air from outside. The relative humidity levels will drop, creating a humidity level and environment hostile to the Dust Mite.
- The effect of continuously replacing the air also reduces the amount of airborne droppings of the mite, replacing it with filtered air from outside.
- The slight positive pressure in the house can make the airborne ‘droppings’ fall back to the ground more quickly, making it less likely that you will breathe them in.
By adopting this ventilation method and utilising barrier systems on pillows and mattresses (that prevent Dust Mites from entering and breeding within these ‘hot spots’), asthma attacks for those who suffer from the Dust Mite allergen can be significantly reduced. This, in turn, could reduce the amount of drugs needed and, of course, the distress of this unpleasant condition.