UCL News


Dust mite research to provide relief for asthma sufferers

18 July 2002

Easy household solutions to the problems of asthma could result from new research due to be announced at a conference this week.

Asthma, a condition which affects 8 million people in the UK (18,000 new cases every year), is one of the allergies which is exacerbated and often caused by dust mites in homes.

Scientists at University College London (UCL), South Bank University, University of Cambridge and Insect R&D Ltd will present the results of a two year EPSRC study into dust mites which examines their response to environmental conditions in an effort to better control their populations.

Asthma and similar allergies are exacerbated by dust mite faeces which, once deposited, become airborne. High dust mite populations are one of the contributing factors which can trigger asthma in non-sufferers.

The research found that mites are very sensitive to both temperature and humidity. Controlling these two factors might be a way of eradicating or at least controlling dust mite populations in the home.

Professor Tadj Oreszczyn (UCL) said: "The data we've gathered on the conditions in which dust mites flourish should help us eradicate this household pest."

The design of homes rarely takes into account the causes of allergies which can often be easily helped. It is hoped that this new research will help influence the design and use of houses, providing relief to allergy sufferers and helping to minimise the risk of developing asthma.

Professor Tadj Oreszczyn (UCL) said: "In the future, allergy sufferers can help alleviate their symptoms by designing their homes differently, taking into account the ranges of humidity and temperature which help nurture dust mites and which can make their allergies unbearable."

Notes to Editors:

The paper, A Combined Transient Hygrothermal and Population Model of House Dust Mites in Beds is available from UCL Media Relations.