A recent New York Times article targeted dust mites and provided interesting insight into how these pests affect building occupants.

According to the article, mites proliferate in warm, humid climates. They are almost nonexistent in places like New Mexico but thrive in tropical areas like Florida. Some experts also say that if the facility is full of static electricity, there are likely no mites at the moment.

But if the temperature and humidity rise, watch out. About one in four Americans has some type of allergy, and within that group about two-thirds are allergic to dust mites, said Dr. James Sublett, an allergist in Louisville, Ky., who is chairman of the Indoor Allergen Committee of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

To identify whehter or not a person is alergic, the article suggestes asking the following questions: Does that person have persistent sniffles and sinus headaches? Do they often wake up with scratchy eyes? Do they sneeze repeatedly first thing in the morning?

If it is identified that occupants are affected by dust mites, appropriate steps should be taken to eliminate them. Mites multiply quickly in high humidity and can take up residence in sheets and blankets in a matter of days. Therefore, it is important to wash bedding (including comforters and duvet covers) weekly in hot water and use a hot dryer. It is not necessary to replace them with new linens. Experts also recommend using special mite-proof covers.

The new covers are made of old-fashioned typewriter ribbon material, which has a tight weave that does not allow mites to penetrate but is soft to the touch. Be sure you get covers from a reputable compan. Covers cost $15 to $40 for pillows and $100 or more for mattresses.

If allergies are severe, doctors may also suggest removing carpets, or at least from the bedroom, and use Venetian blinds rather than fabric drapes. Dust mites take refuge in carpets but can’t live on hard surfaces like wood floors or plastic.

Click here to read this full report.