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UV Light Treatments

Dust Mites and UV Sanitizers

While at least one study has proven that dust mite eggs are killed by exposure to certain wavelengths of ultraviolet (UV) light, this method of eradicating dust mites is labor intensive, time-consuming, and of marginal effectiveness.

UV sanitizers

Manufacturers of ultraviolet sanitizers in the form of lamps or wand-like devices claim that their products kill all manner of bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens as well as dust mites. The radiation emitted by the devices supposedly “de-activates” the DNA and RNA of microorganisms by causing photochemical damage to that genetic material. Some qualifications are in order here:

Only devices that deliver UV-C wavelengths achieve the purported claims.
Devices which emit UV-C radiation generally do so with mercury, a hazardous heavy-metal in its own right.
Failure to wear UV-impermeable eyewear or failure to follow the instructions for use of the device can potentially result in damage to the user’s health.
Death of dust mite eggs requires exposure to UV-C for at least five seconds, requiring slow and/or repeated movement of the device over the area being treated.
Dust mite eggs concealed in carpeting and dense fabrics may escape exposure to the UV-C light radiation altogether.

More effective means of killing dust mites in all stages of their life cycle (not just eggs) exist. They are less time-consuming, safer, and have longer-lasting effects.

Alternatives to UV Sanitizers

Preventive measures such as removing carpet from the bedroom and using dust mite covers for the  mattresses, box springs, and pillows provide more relief from dust mite allergens than do UV-C treatments.

Laundering bedding regularly is very important in diminishing populations of dust mites and their accompanying allergens, especially since we come into direct contact with both when we sleep.

“Steam cleaning” of carpets usually means treatment with luke-warm soapy water that can leave the carpet damp, the humidity of the room increased, and surviving mites in a virtual heaven, making allergy matters even worse. However, proper treatment with truly hot (well above the boiling point) water, delivered with high pressure cleaning equipment, can have a substantial impact on dust mites and their allergens sequestered in carpeting with moderate to low pile depth.

Use of some acaricides, pesticides designed to kill mites, can be quite effective, and is arguably safer than exposing oneself to UV-C radiation, no matter how minimal.

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