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Handling a Carpet Mites Infestation

“Mite” is a term used to refer to a wide range of small living organisms known as arthropods, members of the Arachnida class and Acari subclass and partially related to ticks. They are very diverse in form, habitat, and behavior. Some feed exclusively from plants, while others have developed parasitic relationships with both other animals. Many are considered beneficial to man in that they prey on undesirable arthropods, while others aid in the breakdown of litter and implement nutrient recycling.

Only a few types of mites ever come in contact with humans, but some of them can affect a person’s health. Even though they rarely are transmitters of diseases, humans airways can be affected by breathing their microscopic fecal material, they produce allergens to which people may react with symptoms such as rhinitis, breathlessness or eczema, and their presence in big numbers in a domestic environment can be annoying.

Mites living in the dust of houses fall under the classification of acari and are scientifically known as Pyroglyphidae, Dermatophagoides farinae, D. pheronyssinus, and Euroglyphus mayneiare. House dust is a complex ecosystem containing many substances, primary among which are synthetic and natural fibers. These mites are 8-legged as all acari are, 0.2 to 0.4 mm long, round to oval in shape, white to yellow or creamy, and barely visible to the naked eye.

In most temperate humid areas of the world, house-dust mites are a major source of multiple potent allergens that trigger allergic reactions in some individuals, especially children. Sensitization and exposure to these substances is an important cause of asthma.

House dust mites feed exclusively on human dander or dead skin, which are found in approximately half of the total dust content. Mites develop and multiply faster under 80% relative humidity and over 80°F, thus being more prevalent in coastal areas and during the summer. However, temperatures above the water boiling point are counterproductive for the survival of the acari since they are highly susceptible to water loss.

House-dust mite populations live in places such as furniture stuffing, beds, and textile floor-coverings. 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. It is an important site for house dust mite colonization and the accumulation and dissemination of mite aeroallergens.

Numerous methods have been used to try to control mite populations in carpets including acaricides, liquid nitrogen, and wet and dry vacuum cleaning. Some of these methods have particular problems including a lack of effectiveness, safety, and cost.

Vacuum cleaning is one of the methods. It has the benefit of removing not only the living mites but their feces and the human and animal dander on which they feed. On the other hand, vacuum-cleaning also removes the acarus main predator, the Cheyletus mite, and is only useful to remove surface dust; recent studies have shown that after vacuuming a synthetic carpet for 42 minutes, 11% of the mites were still present.

Low-temperature washing with different commercial detergents is an alternative. However, between 40 and 60% of the mites can resist washing, rinsing and drying, if not combined with powerful chemicals. Chemical control, through sprays, cleaners, and acaricides can considerably decrease the number of mites in carpets for up to 6 weeks. Most of the chemicals have low human toxicity that nonetheless can cause adverse reactions in close physical contact, in enclosed spaces, and with repeated applications for extended periods. There is always the additional possibility of mites developing resistant strains.

The exposure of carpets to direct sunlight can create a microenvironment of low humidity and high temperature that is lethal to mites. The precise time required to kill all mites would vary depending on the solar intensity, carpet thickness, and other factors. Under ambient conditions of 30ºC and 60% relative humidity, direct sunlight raises the temperature under the carpet to more than 50ºC and reduces the relative humidity to less than 15% after three hours. However, some carpets cannot be easily uninstalled and the weather conditions may not always be ideal to be taken out.

Controlling dust mites using extremes of temperature with carpet cleaning in Charlotte NC is the best alternative to end a mites infestation in a carpet. A research on the use of domestic steam cleaning for the control of house dust mites, published by the Clinical and Experimental Allergy journal, found that no live mites were found at any time in treated carpets. Heat above the boiling point of water applied on the surface of the carpet permeates and creates the perfect environment for the extermination of acari since it depletes the water reserves available to them.

Carpet cleaning in Charlotte NC avoids the use of potentially hazardous chemical agents, and is available all year long, indoors and outdoors. The cleaning consists of four stages: heat, detergent, water pressure, and vacuum. It can be conveniently carried out by professionals with top-notch equipment that guarantees the best finish and the preservation of the carpet fibers, colors, texture, and general appearance.

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