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Title: The psychrometric control of house dust mites : testing the validity in UK dwellings of two combined hygrothermal population models for beds
Author: Ucci, Marcella
ISNI:       0000 0001 3830 7751
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2007
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Beds are a crucial source of house dust mite (HDM) allergens, which play a major role in allergic disease, particularly asthma. HDM require a specific combination of hygrothermal conditions to thrive. These bed conditions depend on a number of interacting factors, such as: external climate; building characteristics; heating, ventilation and moisture-producing habits; mattress properties; etc. Because of the complexity of the many interacting factors occuring in real dwellings, a modelling approach is required, whereby the models' predictions have to be consistent with field results. This thesis tested the hypothesis that a combined HDM population-hygrothermal model for beds can adequately predict field data and that the model can be a valuable tool for scenario modelling and intervention studies focused on the psychrometric control of house dust mites in UK housing. Two combined models were considered: a simple steady-state one-dimensional model (BED/MPI), and a complex transient three-dimensional mode (Lectus/Popmite). A combination of fieldwork and scenarios modelling was carried out, which involved hygrothermal and mite monitoring of 25 beds, utilising a novel technique whereby live mites were caged in mite bags and installed in monitored beds and bedrooms (82 sets of mites bags). The work was carried out as part of a multidisciplinary project aimed at developing and testing the models. Good agreement was found between field data and the models predictions, particularly when the uncertainties due to input variables and measurements were taken into account. The results showed that under borderline conditions for HDM growth, simple steady-state predictions may not be accurate. Temperature, not only RH, is a critical variable for HDMs. Areas for model improvement were also identified. In particular, factors other than hygrothermal conditions may be crucial for a beds mite carrying capacity, requiring further investigation: food, space availability, and mite movement. Despite these uncertainties, it can be concluded that greater ventilation, increased thermostat settings and reduced moisture rates can decrease mite levels in beds. The ventilation rates provided by some mechanical ventilation with heat recovery systems may be inadequate to sufficiently control moisture and reduce mite growth. Scenarios modelling suggests that there is considerable potential for the psychrometric control of house dust mites in UK dwellings.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available