Dust mites were identified as a primary allergen in 1964. At that time, carpet was rarely used in homes. Allergists routinely recommended that carpet be installed to reduce airborne dust mite allergen. |
House dust mites were first identified as a major source of allergen in house dust in 1964. The major source of allergen from dust mites is fecal matter and the remains of dead mites. After inhalation, as much as 15% of the population show sensitivity to dust mite allergen. House dust mites are found in almost every environment capable of supporting plant and animal life.
Much of the house dust mite research over the past 30 years has concentrated on mite avoidance and, to a lesser extent, eradication of live mites. Very little research has examined allergen removal and few cause and effect studies have been undertaken to identify risk exposures from specific identified allergen sources such as mattresses, pillows, upholstered furniture and carpet. Yet, allergists routinely make recommendations of allergen avoidance by removing these sources even though a direct link of allergen exposure from these sources has never been established. Effectiveness of Allergen Removal
Several studies have taken place recently examining the effectiveness allergen removal through routine carpet cleaning and quantifying airborne dust mite allergen content above carpeted surfaces. Each of these studies has demonstrated the effectiveness of carpet cleaning in removing dust mite allergen and carpets effectiveness in trapping allergen and preventing its release into the breathing zone.
While mite allergen can be found in most environments on most surfaces, a never been established. It is known that the average size of live mites is 100 to 600 microns and the average size of dust mite allergen averages 6 to 10 microns. What is not known is how particles of this size can become airborne or enter the breathing zone to produce an allergic reaction.
Several evaluations have taken place recently to evaluate the amount of dust mite allergen airborne above a carpeted surface. In these evaluations, airborne samples were taken at 4 inches, 24 inches and 42 inches above a carpeted floor at various locations within an occupied classroom. The investigation revealed no allergen released from the carpet due to the heavy weight of the allergen and the unique properties of carpet in trapping these particles.
Carpet surface sampling following the extreme test using scotch tape to collect surface allergen revealed excessive amounts of allergen lying on the carpet surface after vacuuming without a dust containment system in place. Subsequent sampling with the vacuum containment system in place revealed all of the allergen lying on the surface was removed by a follow-up vacuuming. This indicates the effectiveness of vacuuming in removing both embedded dust mite allergen and surface allergen.
Based on American Industrial Hygiene Association Journal, Carpeting is one of the most common and perhaps the most important reservoir of aeroallergens and other components of dust found in residential or commercial settings. This research evaluated factors that affect the retention of dust mite allergens on different types of tufted carpet commonly found in homes and offices.Results from this study suggest that carpet type be considered for both allergen avoidance and allergy and asthma risk assessment.
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