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Dust mites multiply in a damp environment
From the World Health Organization in its report WHO Guidelines for Indoor Air Quality: Dampness and Mould, published July 16, 2009

[There is a] close association between damp indoor environments and dust mites. The reader is referred to the report of the Institute of Medicine (2000) on house dampness and asthma for a more detailed overview of the literature on the associations between indoor damp, house dust mite allergens and asthma.

House dust mites are arachnids, and many different species have been identified; however, only a few are of concern with respect to damp indoor environments. The natural food source of house-dust mites includes skin scales, although many other sources may be used.

Therefore, in most houses, dust mite nutrition is abundantly available, particularly in mattresses and carpets or rugs. Laboratory studies have shown that most dust mites require a relative humidity in excess of 4550% for survival and development, but they feed and multiply more rapidly at higher relative humidity (Arlian, 1992). Indoor humidity is therefore the main influence on the presence and propagation of house dust mites, as confirmed in several field studies (van Strien et al., 1994; de Andrade et al., 1995; Simpson et al., 2002; van Strien et al., 2004; Zock et al., 2006). Damp houses therefore significantly increase exposure to dust-mite allergens, at least in populations living in mild and temperate climates.

Dust mites produce the predominant inhalation allergens in many parts of the world. The most common mite species that produce allergens are Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus and Dermatophagoides farinae. The major allergens produced by D. pteronyssisus (called Der p I and Der p II) are proteases, which are present in large amounts in faecal pellets (Institute of Medicine, 2000). The major allergen produced by D. farinae is Der f I. Elevated levels of these allergens have been detected in house dust, mattress dust and bedding in damp houses (van Strien et al., 1994; Simpson et al., 2002; van Strien et al., 2004). As the focus of these guidelines is indoor dampness and microorganisms, dust mite allergen levels are not discussed further.

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