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Down, feathers and dust mites: Dubious statistics
By: Stu Bloom
An article in the Wall Street Journal with the headline “Weapons Against Dust Mites May Not Be Worth the Cost” (February 18, 2000), included this comment:
“While dust mites and dust mite control has emerged as the newest hot spot of consumer marketing, many scientists and allergy doctors say that’s all it is — marketing.”
Of course, no marketing claim would be complete without some interesting statistics to support and then encourage the purchase of a product or service.
That’s probably why the internet is awash in dubious statistics about the prevalence of dust mites and dust mite feces in the home – in pillows, mattresses, upholstered furniture, draperies and the like.
These interesting-sounding, fear-inducing but non-verifiable statistics are often repeated as if they were gospel but the original source of the statistic is never cited.
In other words, none of these statistics are supported by independent scientific research or other evidence.
Here are a few samples from our “interesting but dubious” files:
- Asthma and allergies impact 60 million Americans.
- The number of Americans with allergies increases by 10% per year.
- 80% of people with allergies are allergic to dust mites.
- 45% of all homes in the USA have a serious dust mite infestation.
- 66% of all dust mites in the home are found in the bedroom.
- Dust mites feed on dead skin cells and every hour individuals shed 1.5 million skin cells.
- 25% of all allergies are caused by protein allergens in dust mite feces.
- 60% to 80% of all asthma patients are also sensitive to the protein allergens in dust mite feces.
- 80% pf people with allergies are allergic to dust mites.
- A mattress contains between 100 thousand and 10 million dust mites.
- A double bed contains as many as 2 million dust mites.
- The weight of a mattress will double in 10 years because of dust mites and dust mite feces.
- 20% of the weight of an old pillow consists of dust mites.
- 20% to 50% of the weight of a mattress or pillow consists of dust mites and dust mite feces.
- 10% of the weight of a 6 year old pillow consists of dead dust mites and dust mite feces.
- 33% of the weight of a pillow consists of dust mites and dust mite feces.
As that great philosopher, Homer Simpson, once said:
“People can come up with statistics to prove anything. 40% of all people know that.”
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