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Mite Is Not Right
August 26, 2010   
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Scientists at the Textile Research Institute in £ód¼ have created a carpet that keeps house dust mites at bay. The invention promises to ease the lives of many people allergic to these tiny creatures.

Depending on their type, house dust mites measure from a few hundred micrometers to a millimeter. They live mainly in household dust and are invisible to the naked eye. They feed on other microorganisms and the minute scraps of dead skin shed by humans and animals. They infest bedclothes, mattresses, carpets and upholstery and particularly enjoy warm and moist places.

“House dust mites, or more precisely their excrement, is one of the most potent allergenic substances,” says Ma³gorzata Cie¶lak, Ph.D., at the Textile Research Institute.

According to doctors, allergic reactions can range from coughing and sneezing to asthma. Most doctors counsel those affected to remove carpets and other textiles from their homes.

Research conducted by Swedish scientists has shown that more airborne allergens can be found at breathing height in rooms that have textile floor carpeting, than in those that do not. This is mainly because even a slight airflow sends the allergen-bearing dust up in the air.

According to Cie¶lak, a properly designed carpet should act like an air filter, grabbing house dust mites and their excrement out of the circulating dust clouds and preventing them from becoming airborne again. The carpet should also inhibit the reproduction of house dust mites, Cie¶lak says.

The carpet designed by the £ód¼ scientists is made from fibers coated in a special substance that inhibits the feeding habits of house dust mites, making them starve to death. The substance is safe for humans and domestic animals, according to the researchers.

The carpet also contains specially selected fibers that limit adhesion. The fiber design prevents mite excrement and other particles from adhering to its surface during normal, everyday use, making it easier to keep the carpet clean.

The £ód¼ carpet has won many international awards, including a special prize and silver medal at last year’s International Women’s Invention Exhibition in Seoul, South Korea, and a gold medal at the 3rd International Warsaw Invention & Innovation Show last year.

The £ód¼ scientists worked on the project in collaboration with researchers from the Department of Parasitology at the Medical University of Silesia in Katowice. Krzysztof Solarz, Ph.D., led the research team.

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