Sep 12, 2012

Dust Mites

    Dust mites prefer warm temperatures and high humidity, conditions that are also conducive to the growth of mold, another allergen. Mold is a common problem under carpets, especially in humid climates, and it thrives on shower curtains and other bathroom surfaces. Dried flowers or plants often contain mold and anything stored in a damp basement, especially books, papers or fabric, will become musty with mold or mildew.
    Water filters or distillers, air conditioners, bare floors, plastic encased mattresses, pillows made from dacron or other synthetic fibers, the scrupulous disinfecting of humidifiers and dehumidifiers, washable blankets and bedding in place of wool or down comforters, frequent dusting with a damp cloth, frequent vacuuming with special multi-layer vacuum cleaner bags that prevent the recirculation of allergens, heating system filters, window shades in place of fabric drapes, furniture without upholstery, HEPA (high-efficiency, particle-arresting) air cleaners, chemical-free cleaning products, paints and varnishes made without irritating chemicals, the removal of fuzzy stuffed toys, the professional cleaning of air ducts, lightly (rather than tightly) closed windows and doors that provide a free exchange of air instead of sealing the building, and a ban on the smoke from cigarettes, pipes, cigars, fireplaces and wood-burning stoves all reduce exposure to environmental toxins.
     To reduce exposure to dust mites, some experts recommend putting sheets, pillows and pillow cases in a hot dryer twice a week for 10 minutes, keeping stuffed animals, shaggy rugs, quilts and dolls out of the bedroom, having pets sleep away from the bedroom and rinsing the face in hot salted water. Another treatment for dust mites is tea tree oil. A dilute solution (0.8 percent tea tree oil) can be made by combining 1/2 tablespoon tea tree oil with an equal amount of rubbing alcohol or vodka (to make it water-dispersible) and 1 quart of water. Exposure to an 0.8 percent solution of tea tree oil kills 100 percent of treated dust mites within 30 minutes. Where rinsing or sponging is inconvenient, the solution can be sprayed. It can be applied to carpets through any rug shampoo appliance. Reducing exposure reduces stress on the immune system and in some cases, that alone is all the body needs to recover and reverse the damage. See the appendix for a list of mail order companies specializing in hypoallergenic products.
     Carpets, comforters and feather pillows are favorite breeding grounds for microscopic dust mites, which produce an allergenic protein in their excrement. Like dander, which is allergenic because of the proteins it contains, mite-ridden dust is not an allergen unless it's in the air. Oriental rugs hanging on the wall and dusty furniture that remains undisturbed are not allergy problems. It's when a rug is walked on, releasing dander or dust mites, or when a breeze circulates dust or when a person lies down on a feather pillow or curls up under a down comforter that the proteins in dust and dander trigger allergic reactions.

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