Wipe Out Dust Mites

You might or might not know this, but dust mites can trigger allergies and asthma. The eight-legged creatures from the spider family live in our homes and feed on skin cells we leave behind. Until recently, eliminating mites has been as easy as killing The Terminator, but allergy researchers at the University of South Florida are testing a safe chemical that might bring the dust mite to its spindly little knees.

Having dust mites is a fact of life, but it’s no comfort for allergy sufferers. At least 25 percent of Americans suffer from allergies. Dust mites account for about a third of them.

An allergist and immunologist says, “They actually live in our carpets. They live in our beds and in our pillows.”

A USF study is testing whether a boron-based chemical called Acaricide can reduce mite populations. Acaricide has the same active ingredient used to kill fleas and roaches. In lab tests, it works on mites too. The real test is in the home.

John and Vera volunteered for the study because of Vera’s dust mite allergy.

Vera says, “You’re blowing, you’re sneezing, and you’re coughing. You’re just miserable.”

It’s not the live mites, but rather their waste that causes trouble. Once they leave the debris behind, it’s in the air, and it’s in the carpets. It gets redistributed by the activities of humans.

John and Vera hope when the study is over, they’ll have a reason to toast — and a way to send their unwanted houseguests packing.

Some ways to reduce dust mites in your home:

Vacuum and dust frequently
Lower the humidity by running the air conditioner or a dehumidifier
Cover pillows and mattresses with plastic
Wash all bedding in very hot water.

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