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The Exclusive Magazine for the Building Service Contracting Industry Since 1981

Dust Mites, Allergens, and Your Company’s Value Proposition

Written by  Shannon J. Winslow-Claunch

Offering big solutions to destroy these little monsters

Dust Mites

Dust mites are the invisible culprits keeping millions sick and from coming to work. The American Academy of Asthma and Immunology estimates that up to thirty percent of people in the US suffer from allergic rhinitis, and that allergies are one of the top three reasons people miss work. This can have a significant effect on a company’s productivity. Most mistakenly think they have an allergy to dust, but what they are actually allergic to the dust mite’s excrement. Dust mites thrive in any textile materials such as drapes, pillows, and carpeting and their by-products are so small that it ends up being part of the air in office spaces, which is one major cause of many typical dust allergy symptoms.

Dust mites cannot be avoided completely, but with proper cleaning techniques their effects can be minimized. Commercial janitorial service providers are the on front lines of maintaining healthy workplaces through cleanliness. As part of your company’s value proposition in maintaining the health of an organization, consider these facts from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

• Dust mites are primitive creatures with no developed respiratory system and no eyes. They are too small to be seen with the naked eye, measuring only about one quarter to one third of a millimeter. Under the microscope, they can be seen as whitish, eight-legged bugs.

• Although small, dust mites produce up to three hundred times their weight in bodily waste, living up to fifteen weeks.

• Dust mites feed primarily on the tiny flakes of human skin that people normally shed each day. An average adult person may shed up to one and a half grams of skin each day, an amount that can feed one million dust mites. These flakes of skin work their way deep into the inner layers of furniture and carpets; places where mites thrive and cause dust allergy symptoms.

• A dust mite’s life cycle consists of several stages, from egg to adult. Depending on the species, it takes anywhere from two to five weeks for an adult mite to develop from an egg. Adults may live for two to four months. A female mite lays as many as one hundred eggs in her lifetime.

• Dust mites thrive in temperatures of 68-77°F and relative humidity levels of seventy to eighty percent. There are at least thirteen species of dust mites, and all are well adapted to the environment inside the average office facility.

Fighting dust mites
Knowing is half the battle, so education regarding dust mites and working hard to control their effects is vital. Commercial janitorial service providers should take steps to minimize the effect of dust mites can play a part in securing, and for that matter, keeping or losing a contract. Follow these best commercial janitorial service practices to reduce dust allergy from dust mites in the work place.

• Use a damp cloth for dusting.

• Convert to vacuum cleaners with microfiltration bags

• Wash rugs in hot water whenever possible. Cold water leaves up to ten percent of mites behind. Dry cleaning kills all mites and is also good for removing dust from fabrics.

• Shampoo carpeted areas often

• Vacuum and dust frequently

• Shampoo upholstered furniture

• Consider a non-residual insecticide or steam cleaners

Formula efficacy for treating areas with infestations is largely based on the differentiation of chemical versus more natural alternatives. Mark House, a product specialist for Sterifab, insecticide, a broad based formula proven to kill dust mites, and many other insects says that when choosing an product— especially for soft surfaces that come in contact with people—look for a non-residual formula, so after the product dries the surface is safe for human contact. Dust mites thrive in furniture, draperies, pillows, and carpeting so after vacuuming soft surfaces, using an insecticide like Sterifab prevents future infestations. Look for a formula that both kills insects and also disinfects, with one application. House says building service contractors report success in using Sterifab to clean carpet in office spaces and storage with infestations in just one easy step.

For a non-chemical approach, consider a vapor steam system like those offered by Advance Vapor Technologies. The scientifically- proven vapor steam TANCS® technology kills dust mites and quickly disinfects all surfaces. The benefits of vapor steam technology include nontoxicity and serious savings. With a system that works without the need of chemical compounds, the inventory management cycle and necessity of purchasing multiple solutions comes to and end. Rick Hoverson, President of Advanced Vapor says, that “Once the vapor steam equipment is paid off, no other investment is needed…so very quickly, the purchase pays for itself and profit is realized.”

According to a recent study conducted by The Carpet and Rug Institute and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, vapor steam system with TANCS® technology was found to generate high-temperature, very low-moisture steam vapor. This technology changes ordinary tap water into super-heated steam vapor, forming nano-crystals. The study found that when this energized water and crystals are applied to surfaces, the moist heat disables coagulate cell proteins and gets into microscopic pores where dust mites live, ridding all surfaces of filth, dust mites, mold and germs. Hoverson sums it up by saying, “Vapor steam is a chemical-free, cost-effective and non-consumptive technology that is easy to use and that works effectively.”


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