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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1999 Oct;104(4 Pt 1):852-6.

Reducing relative humidity to control the house dust mite Dermatophagoides farinae.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio 45435-0001, USA.



Indoor relative humidity (RH) is the key factor that determines the survival and population development of the house dust mite Dermatophagoides farinae. Maintaining RH below 50% is one recommendation in a comprehensive plan to reduce house dust mites and mite allergen levels in homes. Even when mean daily RH is reduced below 50%, RH may rise above 50% intermittently for brief periods because of activities in the home (eg, cooking, bathing, and ventilation).


The purpose of this study was to determine how brief daily periods of moist air alternating with long spells of low ambient RH (0% or 35%) influence population survival and growth of D farinae.


Population growth was determined for D farinae at daily RH regimens of 2, 4, 6, and 8 hours at 75% or 85% RH alternating with 22, 20, 18, and 16 hours at 0% or 35% RH.


D farinae populations declined at daily regimens of 2 hours at 75% or 85% RH alternating with 22 hours at 0% or 35% RH. Daily regimens of 4, 6, and 8 hours at 75% RH alternating with 20, 18, and 16 hours, respectively, at 35% RH provided sufficient moisture for small growths in population size. These growths after 10 weeks were reduced by 98.2%, 98.0%, and 97.3% for daily regimens of 4, 6, and 8 hours, respectively, at 75% RH (with the remainder of the day at 35% RH) compared with the growth of populations continuously exposed to 75% RH. Continuous exposure to 85% RH inhibited population growth, but alternating daily regimens of 16, 18, and 20 hours at 35% RH allowed small populations to develop, although they were reduced by 99.4%, 98.8%, and 99.1% compared with population growth at a continuous 75% RH.


This study indicates that maintaining mean daily RH below 50%, even when RH rises above 50% for 2 to 8 hours daily, effectively restricts population growth of these mites and thus the production of allergen. To completely prevent population growth of D farinae, RH must be maintained below 35% for at least 22 hours per day when the daily RH is 75% or 85% for the remainder of the day.

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