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Mite allergy: is an air purifier useful?

In the 1960s, scientists identified that the majority of allergies attributed to dust, whether respiratory, ocular, or cutaneous, were actually due to dust mites 1.

According to a 2021 study conducted in Europe, allergic rhinitis affects 13% (medical diagnosis) to 19% (self-report) of the population 2. In France, as previously presented in our article Allergic Rhinitis: What Natural Treatments Are Available?, one in four people is currently affected, particularly among the young. According to the WHO, allergies have become the 4th chronic disease worldwide, and dust mites are responsible for 75% of respiratory allergies 3. The European Academy of Allergology and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) even states that allergy is the most common chronic disease in Europe.

According to an Opinion Way survey for the allergen immunotherapy laboratory ALK, these allergies can significantly impact patients' daily lives: 70% of those affected give up daily activities 4.

Where do dust mites come from? What impact do they have on our health, especially for asthmatics? How can we get rid of them? Is an air purifier effective against dust mites?

What are dust mites?

air purifier mites

There are more than 50,000 identified species of these microscopic organisms, relatives of spiders. About 0.3 mm in length, invisible to the naked eye, they feed on dead skin cells or hair debris 5. In one day, a human produces enough skin flakes to feed millions of dust mites!

They thrive particularly well in environments where the temperature is between 15 and 25°C and the humidity is between 65 and 80%. Their reproduction increases in spring and autumn. They are found especially in sofas, carpets, and most notably in bedding: a mattress can harbor nearly 2 million dust mites! They are thus especially breathed in at night, when they are near the respiratory tract 5.

In France, the two most common allergenic species are Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus and Dermatophagoides farinae 6.

What are the impacts of dust mites on allergies and asthma?

air purifier mites

It's not the dust mites themselves that cause allergic reactions but rather their droppings and shell debris. These 5 µm microparticles can penetrate deep into the lungs. They are therefore particularly dangerous for people with allergies and asthma.

Researchers at INSERM 7 have shown that dust mites stimulate bronchial wall cells in both allergic and non-allergic individuals. In severe asthmatics suffering from bronchial remodeling, this indirectly increases the proliferation of smooth muscle cells in the bronchi, exacerbating this remodeling and thus worsening the disease. It's worth noting that asthma is far from a benign condition: it still causes the deaths of 1,000 people each year in France.

How to Eliminate Dust Mites?

Refresh the Air in Your Home

Whether you're allergic or not, it's always recommended to refresh the air in your home: air out the rooms twice a day for at least 10 minutes to let in fresh air, including oxygen, expel CO2, and dilute all pollutants present indoors.

To better understand the components of air, especially pollutants, you can refer to our article Air Composition and Health: What Are We Breathing?.

Good Practices for Your Bedroom

Since dust mites are particularly present in bedding, it is recommended to:

  • Prefer slatted bed bases over upholstered ones;
  • Replace feather pillows and duvets, washing them every three months at a minimum of 30°C;
  • Use dust mite covers for your mattress;
  • Wash your sheets weekly at 60°C;
  • Minimize carpeting, rugs, and plush toys as much as possible. For children, it's challenging to completely eliminate them from their environment, so they should also be washed regularly at 30°C;
  • Maintain a relatively low temperature, around 18°C, and ensure humidity levels remain below 60%. Beyond this, dust mites not only thrive more easily but you may also notice mold growth, which also has negative health consequences. To better understand how to measure indoor air quality, you can read our article on Air Quality Sensor: What to Measure and Why?.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to prevent dead dust mites and their excrement, which are fine enough to pass through vacuum bag walls, from escaping.

These recommendations apply to all rooms in your home furnished with fabrics, curtains, upholstered chairs, etc.

Dust Mites: What About Choosing an Air Purifier?

As detailed in our article Air Purifier: What to Choose?, there are various technologies for indoor air purification, each with its own advantages, disadvantages, and effectiveness that may depend on the context or type of pollutants targeted.

While air ventilation is essential, it doesn’t always suffice to eliminate indoor pollutants and also allows particles from outside to enter. Therefore, an air purifier device is a very useful supplement.

Among the air purification solutions, the most common on the market is the HEPA filter. Highly effective under laboratory conditions, its performance can decrease depending on its usage conditions and it quickly becomes clogged. After 6 months, it loses about 25% of its effectiveness. Therefore, regular filter replacement is necessary.

On the other hand, ionization technology without ozone uses no disposable filter and is easy to maintain. It recreates the principle of electrostatic precipitation indoors for eliminating pollutant particles: they are charged by negative ions and thus removed from the air. This is a principle observed in the purest natural environments such as mountains or near rivers.

TEQOYA has opted for this ozone-free air ionization technology.

air purifier mites

Effective on 99% of pollutant particles, its ionizers come in several ranges to adapt to each room: the TEQOYA T200 and T450 are perfectly silent and suitable for quiet rooms in your home such as bedrooms or the living room, for example.

The air purifiers E500, which complement ionization with electrofiltration to capture pollutants, offer multiple adjustment levels. They can be remotely programmed and connected to the S1 air quality sensor, they automatically adjust the air purification based on the analysis of present pollutants. They are particularly suitable for rooms where activities impact pollution levels (kitchen, workshop, creative leisure space, rooms with high population flow…).

Sources

1 - Allergy to dust mites: myths and realities, Revue médicale Suisse, April 2019 https://www.revmed.ch/revue-medicale-suisse/2009/revue-medicale-suisse-199/allergie-aux-acariens-mythes-et-realites

2 - Prevalence and rate of diagnosis of allergic rhinitis in Europe, V. Bauchau, S.R. Durham European Respiratory Journal 2004 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15516669/

3 - Better understanding allergies for improved quality of life, Ameli, 2022 https://www.ameli.fr/assure/sante/themes/asthme/asthme-vivre-maladie/mieux-comprendre-les-allergies

4 - ALK Survey / OpinionWay 2017 https://www.theragora.fr/communiques/CP-ALK-Allergie-%20acariens70%25-1017.pdf

5 - Dust mites, microscopic living beings, Observatoire de la Qualité des Environnements Intérieurs https://www.oqai.fr/fr/pollutions/les-acariens

6 - Dust mites: recommendations for reducing exposure at home, CHU d’Angers https://www.chu-angers.fr/offre-de-soins/les-acariens-quelles-recommandations-pour-reduire-son-exposition-au-domicile--92166.kjsp

7- Dust mites worsen severe asthma, INSERM, January 2015 https://www.inserm.fr/actualite/acariens-aggravent-asthme-severe/

 

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