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Weather changes bring new challenges.

     One of the biggest causes of SBS 'Sick Building Syndrome'We must also face the onslaught of respiratory attacks brought on by the ever changing weather.  Sometimes the slightest change can make a big difference, whether it's a change in temperature, humidity, wind conditions, or even barometric pressure.  Cold weather climates are often faced with low humidity indoors from furnaces and wood burners that dry out the sinuses.   Some of the warmer climates with higher humidity can be equally devastating, promoting the growth of molds and fungi, as well as providing an environment in which dust mites will thrive.  Not to mention temperature swings barraging us with ever changing irritants, wreaking havoc on our health.

     Today's article will primarily address the effects of humidity on indoor air.  Whereas we can't always maintain a perfect level of humidity, we can improve it.  One of the biggest mistakes people in cold weather climates make is to increase the humidity to higher levels than are necessary.  But then more is always better, right?  Not so with humidity.  Too much humidity is one of the main causes of indoor mold growth and increased dust mite populations.

     We're all basically aware of the effects of humidity and dampness on the growth of mold spores. Few people are actually aware of the extreme impact moisture and humidity has on the growth of dust mites.  Dust mites LOVE, LOVE, LOVE humidity and moisture.  Just like any other living creature, food and water are essential to their survival.  Therefore, maintaining lower levels of humidity increases the odds in your favor in the battle against mite infestations.

     If the air seems too dry in the winter, you may have no other choice than to use a humidifier. Just beware that humidity levels should be remain at 50% or less.  This is easily attained using one of the many inexpensive humidity meters available online.  This allows you to control the air so that it is comfortable for breathing and sinuses, as well as starving the dust mites of their much needed humidity. 

     In the warmer months of the year, air conditioning is very beneficial in reducing humidity while providing quality air control.  Some studies have found up to ten times fewer dust mites in air conditioned homes.  Be sure to check the Quick Reminder Chart at the top of the page for helpful hints.

Happy Breathing!!!


Dust Mites and What You Need to Know

Illustration showing anatomy of a dust mite

     In today's article I'll be discussing everything you want, or should I say NEED, to know about those pesky little creatures known as dust mites.  If you have ever seen a photo of one, you know they can be pretty scary looking.  As everyone knows, knowledge is power. It's no different in the battle against allergens.  The more you know, the better your chances are in combating them. Fortunately, mites are tiny enough that we can't see them. We just need to know that they are pretty much everywhere and contribute immensely to our respiratory grief.  It's impossible to completely eliminate them, but their great numbers can indeed be kept to a minimum.  It's not even the dust mite itself causing the reactions, but their excretions.  If you ever find yourself waking up between 3 to 5 hours of falling asleep with a fit of sneezing or coughing or even a headache, it's possibly the result of dust mites causing obstruction of your airways.

     Sometimes dust mites actually form great colonies in certain areas not dusted or treated over a period of time.  Vacuuming and dusting will certainly help, but doesn't always make a dent in established colonies.  Part of the reason for this is when you vacuum carpets, mattresses, pillows etc., dust mites are equipped with tiny little grips on their feet preventing the majority of them from being sucked into the vacuum.

     Today's tip is going to show you how to treat your carpet and any upholstered furnishings in your free zone.  What you need to do is take a spray bottle and add 8 oz. of ordinary tap water to it. Next add 1/2 tsp. of vodka or witch hazel and 32 drops of eucalyptus essential oil.  (It must be pure essential oil only.)  The vodka or witch hazel allows the oil to mix with the water. Next, do a sample test.  Shake it up and spray a hidden area of carpet, if you desire, to make sure there is no discoloration. You may want to wait 24 hours to be sure.  Now you can spray your carpet including under the bed (most important) and allow to dry before thoroughly vacuuming.  In the beginning it's best to spray again after vacuuming.  If you follow this routine weekly at first, even for just three weeks or so, it will eliminate some of the established colonies.  You will breathe easier at night and will only need to do this monthly or bimonthly after a few treatments.  Of course, a weekly vacuuming is very beneficial as well.  If you are very sensitive you might want to wear a dust mask while vacuuming, or better yet, have someone do the vacuuming for you.

     If you are fortunate enough to have wood floors then you only need to dust mop frequently and preferably with a slightly damp mop to remove all the dust.  You can even lightly spray the dust mop with the eucalyptus spray to kill them immediately and prevent scattering more contaminated dust around the room.  You may want to use the above treatment recipe to treat upholstery and throw rugs or pillows after doing a sample test.  Be sure to check the Quick Reminder Chart at the top of the page for helpful hints.

Happy Breathing!!!


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