Can air purifiers kill dust mites?

Dust mites look scary.

 

And apparently they’re probably in my home, since they’re in most people’s homes. A survey found dust mites in 84% of US beds and 68% of European beds.

 

Yet it’s hard to know for sure whether they’re in our homes or not because they’re mostly too small to see with our eyes. The more I write, the more OCD I’m becoming.

 

Will Purifiers Capture Dust Mites?

I should say I’m NOT an expert in air pollution. I’m just a dedicated data nerd who was doing psychology research in Beijing and then got (kind of) forced into building DIY air purifiers to fight the crippling air pollution I was breathing.

 

During that process, I started testing air purifiers with HEPA filters—these guys.

 

Most air purifiers use HEPA filters, so let’s start there.

 

These fiber filters capture over 99% of particles 0.3 microns and above. That’s good news for my probably-dust-mite-infested home because dust mites are 200 to 300 microns long.

 

That’s easily in the range that HEPAs capture. Now, I’m not sure if getting stuck in a filter would kill a dust mite. They die in environments with low humidity, and getting constantly blown by air might do the job, but that’s speculation.

 

Bottom line: Most air purifiers will capture dust mites, but may not kill them.

 

Wait, Dust Mites Need to Be in The Air

Hang on, dust mites need to be in the air for an air purifier to capture them. The problem is they live in carpet, bedding, and upholstered furniture, so they’re not usually floating in the air.

 

It turns out dust mites do get thrown into the air. When we walk on carpeting, sweep the floor, dust our homes, and change our bed sheets, dust mites get thrown into the air. And because they’re so small, they stay suspended in the air for 20 minutes to 2 hours.

 

That means purifiers can capture dust mites if you have the purifier on while dusting, changing sheets, or even walking around. If you’re try to target dust mites, you might want to scuff your feet along the floor.

 

Dust Mites Create Even Smaller Allergens

But the picture gets more complicated for people with allergies. Dust mites create allergens by ejecting poop particles and “partially digested enzyme-covered dust particles.” In other words, their waste is smaller than their bodies.

 

These particles are as small as 1 micron or even 0.1 microns.

We’re in trouble now, because HEPA filters capture particles 0.3 and above (according to websites like this one).

Fortunately for us air-breathers, this is a common misconception. This misconception would lead people to conclude that HEPA filters DON’T capture dust mites.

 

You’ll see purifier companies use this myth to try to justify when you need their “proprietary technology” instead, like Molekule does.

 

A glance at the Wikipedia page for HEPA filters (or the data I share in this answer) reveals that HEPA filters capture lots of particles below 0.3 microns.

 

Heck, even pollution masks like this one I’m wearing capture tiny 0.007 micron particles (1).

 

Bottom line: HEPA filters will capture dust mites and the smaller dust mite allergen particles they create.

 

View the original article on Quora here.

 

The Sqair air purifier Kickstarter

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