DUST MITES IN THE AIR
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WHAT IS A DUST MITE
Tiny eight-legged relatives of the spider and tick, dust mites have no eyes or respiratory system. Too tiny to see with the naked eye, a mite is less than half a millimete ranging from one quarter to one third of a millimeter in size.
A dust mites favorite food is the dead skin that we (and our pets) shed constantly. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America says an average adult person may shed up to 1.5 grams of skin in a day. This is enough to feed one million dust mites.
Mites thrive in warm, humid places where temperatures range from 68 to 77 degrees F with humidity levels around 70 to 80 percent. They also like having easy access to their food sources, so they spend most of their time on beds, couches, carpeting and other fiber-covered things like pillows and stuffed animals. It's estimated that 100,000 to 10 million mites can be found on a typical household mattress.
While the thought of millions of tiny creatures crawling all over your bed can be enough to make you itchy, it's actually a protein in the debris left behind by mites that truly causes allergic reactions. Dust mite debris is made of two things: their own shed skin and their feces. Since a single dust mite is capable of producing 200 times its body weight in debris, our homes have an abundance of the substance that triggers an allergic reaction.
HOW DO DUST MITES GET INTO THE AIR
Dust mite debris becomes airborne every time you sit down on the couch, collapse into bed or fluff a pillow. Basically, any time you touch or move a mite-dwelling environment, you're releasing bits of debris into the air.
WHAT'S THE PROBLEM? THE EFFECTS OF DUST MITES
When it comes to causing allergic reactions, dust mite debris is the second most common allergen, pollen being the most common. Like other allergens, dust mite debris can trigger an immune system response with symptoms like:
- Runny nose
- Itchy, red or watery eyes
- Stuffy nose
- Itchy nose, mouth or throat
- Postnasal drip (a flow of mucus from behind your nose into your throat)
SOLUTIONS FOR DUST MITES
Even the most immaculate and well-kept house is home to dust mites. While keeping your house as clean and dust free as possible will help to lessen exposure, there is no way to entirely be free of dust mites and their debris. However, there are a number of ways to reduce your exposure to the allergen. Allergy experts have a number of recommendations for allergen management that include using allergen-controlling products like zippered dust-proof covers on beds and pillows, avoiding carpeting and adopting cleaning habits like washing bedding in water that's 130 degrees Fahrenheit. An easy, effective whole-home solution to dealing with dust mites and their debris is using a purifying air filter in your furnace or air conditioner.
BEST FILTERS FOR DUST MITES
The American College of Allergy, Asthmas and Immunology recommends installing high-efficiency media filter with a MERV rating of 11 or 12 in the furnace and the air conditioning unit. An effective whole-home solution, an air filter will capture airborne dust mite debris, reducing its presence in your home and limiting exposure to the allergen. A supplementary freestanding air filter can be helpful in bedrooms, as long as it does not treat air with heat, electrostatic ions or ozone.Premium: MERV 11
- Traps house dust and lint, pet dander, mold spores, pollen, dust mites, fine dust, auto emissions
- Traps house dust and lint, pet dander, mold spores, pollen, dust mites, fine dust, auto emissions, smoke, tobacco smoke, bacteria, very fine dust, odor
WHEN TO REPLACE THE FILTER
It's important to routinely replace your filter for clean air and optimal efficiency. Every air filter comes with a recommended replacement frequency, commonly every 3 to 6 months. By following the manufacturer's recommendations, you can reduce the chance of your filter becoming clogged with particles. A clogged filter greatly reduces its efficiency, restricts airflow, and increases pressure on the fan side, which strains your air conditioner or furnace. It's important to avoid reducing the airflow rate because it can negatively impact the air quality in your home.
DUST MITE FAQ
How do I keep dust mites out of my home?
Here's the bad news: Until we find a way to stop shedding dead skin, there's no way to make your home 100 percent free of dust mites and their debris. The good news: There are easy ways of reducing dust mite debris from your air. An air filter can trap airborne allergens as they enter your air conditioner or furnace, resulting in clean air. Look for a filter with one of these ratings: MERV 8, 11 or 13, MPR 600, 1,000 or 1,500 FPR 4"5, 6"7 or 8"10
I live in an apartment what can I do to purify my homes air?
A freestanding air purifier like the Honeywell QuietClean Tower Air Purifier is an effective way to capture airborne particles in apartments, dorms and even offices. They can trap dust mite debris as well as pollen, pet dander and smoke while quietly emitting clean, purified air. Depending on the power of the unit, you may need one purifier per room of your home.
If a MERV 6 is good, is a 12 twice as good? Is a higher rating better?
Not necessarily. While a higher rating often means better, it's not the case with air filters. MERV ratings above 13 are used in hospitals, particularly in surgical suites, because their rigorous design can be supported by industrial-grade ventilation system.
What is a pleated filter?
A pleated air filter, unlike its flat fiberglass counterpart, doubles up its fabric, providing more surface area to capture airborne pollutants like dust mite debris. As a result, a pleated filter will help reduce more pollutants from making it into your homes air.
Is it necessary to change my filter every 3 months?
If the manufacturers suggestion is to replace the filter every 3 months, it's wise to do so. Depending on the air quality where you live, it might be helpful to replace it even more often. Routine filter replacement is important because filters lose their effectiveness over time. As impurities like dust mite debris are trapped, they build up and eventually clog the filter, slowing its efficiency and decreasing the ability to purify. Your furnace or air conditioner filter isn't the only one that needs to be kept clean. Make sure the filter on your vacuum cleaner is routinely washed or replaced. A dirty, clogged vacuum filter loses its effectiveness and will essentially arrange the dirt and allergens. By cleaning or replacing the filter, you'll keep the dust mite debris contained to reduce irritation.
For answers to filter-related questions, recommendations on the air filters, or general air quality questions, contact us.