Dust mites are members of the spider family. They live in carpet, upholstery, and fabric, and they thrive on human skin scale, animal dander, and trace nutrients. They need humidity to live, but they cannot drink water. The ideal temperature range for dust mites to live is 59-95ºF (15-35ºC) with relative humidity ranging from 55%-85%. Generally, the more humid an area, the more dust mites you’ll find.
It is the fecal matter of the dust mites that causes allergy problems. Common reactions to high levels of dust mite fecal matter include asthma and rhinitis. The approximate number of people in the United States suffering from allergies (not necessarily caused by dust mites) is 50 million and continuing to rise.
There are many products sold to reduce mite population in homes. Although many products do reduce the level of dust mite population, these products do not reduce it enough to have an effect on the clinical symptoms of allergies. The real reduction of clinical symptoms of allergies can be attributed to reduction in humidity, not the products available on the market.
A study was done in Dayton, Ohio in 1995, which tested home humidity levels on dust mite populations. It was discovered that the homes with the air conditioning on and dehumidification set up were the homes with the least amount of dust mites (after 4 weeks, there were zero live mites counted). The second best were the homes with only air conditioning and no dehumidification. The third of course were the homes without any air conditioning and no dehumidification; these homes had the highest levels of dust mites.
The conclusion is that when indoor humidity is kept below 50% Rh, evidence indicates that the mite population does not grow on significant levels. Constant dehumidification is needed to keep Rh below 50%.
The lower the humidity, the drier the air. This may cause severe stuffiness and cold symptoms in many adults and children, which is not necessarily good. However, it is preferred to allergies caused by dust mite fecal matter.
To eradicate dust mites you will need to do the following:
- Maintain a relative humidity below 50%
- Clean all soft goods (upholstery, bedding, clothing) in hot water. Use dryer set at the highest setting possible to dry clothes.
In criminal investigations fingerprints are one of the oldest and most common types of physical evidence found at a crime scene. One of the primary goals of the investigation deals with identification. Whether the identification is that of an unknown victim (body found at the side of the road) or that of the perpetrator of a crime. The ridge detail developed and recovered at a crime scene and later identified by a fingerprint examiner becomes an investigative lead (starting point) for the detectives assigned to the investigation. A fingerprint is simply defined as friction ridge detail of the hands and the feet.
Conventional powders, applied with a fiber or hair brush, are the most common type of powders used at crime scenes. They are generally inexpensive, cover a large area when applied with a brush and readily develop prints on most non-porous surfaces. The main drawback is that conventional powders are generally very light and airy and can become airborne at the slightest flick of the brush, creating a mess.
After the scene has been processed, home and business owners can be left with the clean up. Laws and policies differ from one jurisdiction to the next. Sometimes, the home or business owner can get estimates and file a claim for reimbursement with the law enforcement agency who made the mess. Homeowners, renters or business interruption insurance policies may cover the amount that exceeds the deductible. In other cases, the entire cleaning and resulting financial burden falls to the occupant of the property who may become even more-so the victim of the crime.
The key to cleaning this mess is to remove all loose particles without introducing water into the equation, and to complete the process as quickly as possible. Specific chemicals and graphite removing agents are used to lift the surface in a fashion as not to spread the powder while also protecting the surface from discoloration. Tackling this type of cleanup without the help of professionals can certainly lead to more damage by deeply embedding it into the surface and/or spreading airborne. Individuals partaking in this type of remediation should be trained, certified and have vast experience to limit damage and clean the surface in a timely and cost effective manner.
MRSA, also known as “The Super Bug,” is a form of staph infection that is resistant common antibiotics, making it exceptionally difficult to treat. Staph infections, including MRSA, used to be almost exclusively hospital-borne infections. But in the 1990s, however, a type of MRSA began showing up in the wider community known as Community-Associated MRSA (CA-MRSA). Both MRSA and CA-MRSA cause skin and soft tissue infections and can lead to pneumonia or even death. The virus can progress substantially in as little as 24-48 hours after initial topical symptoms are detected. After just 72 hours, MRSA can take significant hold in human tissues and resist treatment.
Like other staph infections, MRSA is passed from person to person through direct contact with skin or through contact with contaminated items. The bacteria may live in people’s noses and on their skin, and usually don’t cause any problems. However, young children, the elderly, and individuals with immune deficiencies are at particular risk. Building service contractors and janitorial crews should use a high-quality, EPA-registered disinfectant/cleaner/sanitizer to clean any surfaces that may potentially be contaminated with MRSA. Areas of the facility where people share close quarters (such as locker rooms, athletic areas, or community showers) or areas that people touch frequently (such as handrails, light switches, drinking fountains, tables, and desks) should be thoroughly disinfected on a daily basis.
Preventing MRSA Infections
Using commonsense personal hygiene practices and limiting contact with other persons, you can help prevent the spread of MRSA. The following are suggestions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
Personal Hygiene Tips
- Wash hands using liquid soap and water frequently, especially after using the toilet and after any hands-on contact with other persons. Alternatively, an alcohol-based hand rub can be used according to label instructions. Visibly soiled hands should be washed with soap and water rather than an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Dry hands with disposable paper towels or air blowers. Avoid sharing towels.
- Limit sharing of personal items (e.g., towels clothing and soap).
- Keep skin lesions (e.g., boils, insect bites, open sores or cuts) covered with a clean, dry dressing.
- Use a barrier (e.g., a towel or a layer of clothing) between the skin and shared equipment
- Shower if there has been substantial skin-on-skin contact with another person.
- Athletes with active skin and soft tissue infections should not participate in wrestling until wounds are completely healed. Consider using this rule for all contact sports.
Here’s a set of photos of a home which was left in gross filth conditions. The items which weren’t salvageable were discarded and all the rooms were cleaned and decontaminated.
In the homes of people who have hoarding disorder, the countertops, sinks, stoves, desks, stairways and virtually all other surfaces are usually stacked with stuff. And when there’s no more room inside, the clutter may spread to the garage, vehicles and yard.
Clutter and difficulty discarding things are usually the first signs and symptoms of hoarding disorder, which often surfaces during the teenage years. As the person grows older, he or she typically starts acquiring things for which there is no need or space. By middle age, symptoms are often severe and may be harder to treat.
Hoarding disorder affects emotions, thoughts and behavior. Signs and symptoms may include:
- Persistent inability to part with any possession, regardless of its value
- Excessive attachment to possessions, including discomfort letting others touch or borrow them or distress at the idea of letting an item go
- Cluttered living spaces, making areas of the home unusable for the intended purpose, such as not being able to cook in the kitchen or use the bathroom to bathe
- Keeping stacks of newspapers, magazines or junk mail
- Letting food or trash build up to unusually excessive, unsanitary levels
- Acquiring unneeded or seemingly useless items, such as trash or napkins from a restaurant
- Difficulty managing daily activities because of procrastination and trouble making decisions
- Moving items from one pile to another, without discarding anything
- Difficulty organizing items, sometimes losing important items in the clutter
- Shame or embarrassment
- Limited or no social interactions
People with hoarding disorder typically save items because:
- They believe these items will be needed or have value in the future
- The items have important emotional significance — serving as a reminder of happier times or representing beloved people or pets
- They feel safer when surrounded by the things they save
Hoarding disorder is different from collecting. People who have collections, such as stamps or model cars, deliberately search out specific items, categorize them and carefully display their collections. Although collections can be large, they aren’t usually cluttered and they don’t cause the distress and impairments that are part of hoarding disorder.
Frequent hand-washing is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick and spreading illness. Hand-washing requires only soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer — a cleanser that doesn’t require water. As you touch people, surfaces and objects throughout the day, you accumulate germs on your hands. In turn, you can infect yourself with these germs by touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Although it’s impossible to keep your hands germ-free, washing your hands frequently can help limit the transfer of bacteria, viruses and other microbes.
Always wash your hands before:
- Preparing food or eating
- Treating wounds, giving medicine, or caring for a sick or injured person
- Inserting or removing contact lenses
Always wash your hands after:
- Preparing food, especially raw meat or poultry
- Using the toilet or changing a diaper
- Touching an animal or animal toys, leashes or waste
- Blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing into your hands
- Treating wounds or caring for a sick or injured person
- Handling garbage, household or garden chemicals, or anything that could be contaminated — such as a cleaning cloth or soiled shoes
- Shaking hands with others
In addition, wash your hands whenever they look dirty.
Compulsive hoarding, also known as hoarding disorder, is a pattern of behavior that is characterized by excessive acquisition and an inability or unwillingness to discard large quantities of objects that cover the living areas of the home and cause significant distress or impairment. Here’s a video showing some before and after photos of a hoarding home we mitigated.