Environmental determinants of allergens in different flooring materials and the influence of vacuum cleaning on this and airborne allergen concentrations
This thesis aims to determine the colonisation rates of house dust mites in different types of flooring materials and how this is influenced by vacuum cleaning, to assess the common fungal taxa present within carpets and how differing environmental determinants influence this, to develop more efficient cleaning regimes for the removal of house dust mite allergens from smooth and carpeted floors, and to assess the influence of vacuum cleaning on the airborne concentrations of Der p I and fungal spores from rooms with smooth and carpeted floors. The colonisation behaviour of two house dust mite species in three flooring types was compared and the differences noted. Significant differences were found in the colonisation of the same three flooring types by house dust mites and significant differences were found between controls and vacuum cleaned flooring. In the home environment, a number of variables were found to influence both the concentration of the house dust mite allergen Der p I and the level of fungal contamination of carpeted floors. Substantial differences in Der p I allergen concentrations were found between smooth and carpeted flooring and the process of intensive vacuum cleaning showed significant reductions in allergen concentrations for specific cleaning times. Significant differences occurred in airborne allergen concentrations and fungal spore counts both before and after vacuum cleaning, with significant differences found between rooms with carpeted and smooth floors. The general conclusion was that cleaning frequency and flooring type are two of the major variables to control in order to minimise exposure to house dust mite allergens and fungi in the home.