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Factors affecting the air quality in your living space


If smog is a combination of “smoke” and “fog”, then you can bet that you have plenty of it, if you’re living in a big city.

Closing your front door to the outside world may be one way to deal with smog, but what if the air quality in your own home is also making you sick?

This is the question leading indoor pollution and health expert, Professor of Global Environmental Health, Sotiris Vardoulakis, from the Australian National University is researching.

He’s found that there are many different pollutants in the indoor environment that can exacerbate asthma symptoms or respiratory allergies when breathed in. This includes smoke from fires, chemicals, and dust particles. Mould spores, dust mites and possibly bacteria can also be detrimental.

“Most commonly, people will experience irritated eyes, nose and throat when exposed to household dust but prolonged exposure to airborne dust can lead to chronic breathing and lung problems, and potentially increased risk of heart disease.”


As people move about their house, there are lots of activities that can resuspend the dust in the home including cleaning, dusting, walking over carpet or simply sitting on a couch. Airborne spores can settle in your home and develop with the aid of moisture into mould and mildew.

The impact of dust can be more serious to certain individuals.

Positive tests for dust mite allergies are extremely common among people with asthma, types of dermatitis and frequent sinus infections. Studies also suggest that exposure to high levels of dust mites, especially early in life, increases your risk of developing asthma.

“Most of us are probably sleeping in a bed full of dust mite faeces.”

With one in nine Australians affected by asthma, Asthma Australia CEO, Michele Goldman, says dust and dust mites can act as irritants for sensitive airways.

“If you know you are triggered by dust and dust mites, the best approach to preventing an asthma or allergy flare-up is to reduce the amount of allergen in your home by cleaning on a regular basis.”


Just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. Gem McLuckie, advanced research scientist in microbiology at Dyson, says dust mites feed on dead skin cells shed by humans and animals.

On average, humans shed 2g of skin per day. They can also get the nutrients they need from other household debris, like fish food, fungi and food crumbs.

“Wherever you spend the most time and shed the most skin, that’s where you’re most likely to find dust mites, and we spend one third of our lives in our beds. Most of us are probably sleeping in a bed full of dust mite faeces.”

House dust mites thrive in warm, damp and dark conditions, particularly when temperatures rise above 25 degrees Celsius.

“That means that areas where we sweat, breathe and share our body heat are perfect homes for mites, like sofas, mattresses, pet beds and other soft furnishings are fertile ground for dust mites.

the clean up

To further improve indoor air quality, Dyson is launching its latest purification machine next month with formaldehyde sensing technology.

It’s a game changer — designed to capture ultrafine dust and allergens, even destroying potentially dangerous Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) which are a large group of chemicals that are found in our homes, including formaldehyde.

Formaldehyde is a colourless gas pollutant, released by furniture and wooden products containing formaldehyde-based resins like plywood.


‘Advanced’ vacuuming

Vacuum your mattress on both sides with a machine with an advanced filtration system, as well as your sofa and other upholstery.

Manage humidity levels

Dust mites hydrate themselves by absorbing water from the air,

Air your linen

Air out bedding and blankets frequently, as well as ventilating your home by opening the window or using a HEPA-filtered air purifier.

Fan away

Don’t forget to use the extractor fan after showering or while cooking too, as even raising the humidity levels for an hour and a half a day can enable house dust mites to survive.

Control the temperature

Dust mites thrive at temperatures of 25 degrees Celsius, so ensure you vacuum warmer areas in your home frequently to control levels of dust mites, like pet baskets Washing bedding or At 60-to-90 degrees Celsius will break up allergens too.


Dust mites and their faeces are microscopic. If you can see dust in your home, dust mites may already be thriving.

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