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If you have a dust mite allergy, you may have gotten rid of your wall-to-wall carpeting, have an elaborate hot-water routine for your bedclothes and have your mattresses bustled up in dust-proof covers. If your allergy is more severe, you may have removed upholstered furniture from your home, invested in an allergen-filtered vacuum cleaner and wash your rugs in hot water.
Adapting your home environment for your allergy may be a lot of work but is at least within your control. Your work environment is a different story. Let's explore dust mites and your work environment--and what to do about it.
Light-cleaning janitorial services routinely skip areas that amass large amounts of dust. Examine the printer area at your workplace. Not only is it unlikely for this equipment to be routinely moved for cleaning, but the equipment itself generates fine particle dust, usually leaving the area behind it and in surrounding crevices extremely dusty. Also, take a look at the light fixtures, especially hanging fixtures and recessed lighting with removable covers.
Though the surface areas are apt to collect dust, access difficulty results in their not being cleaned often. Finally, glance at the heating/cooling vents. Air movement through these fixtures makes them prime places for dust collection and, along with the printer area and lighting fixtures, excellent places for dust-mite colonies to thrive. MGS Supply and Services recommends including these areas in a routine cleaning schedule.
It is likely your office may still have the dreaded upholstered furniture, especially in common areas such as reception and relaxation areas. Take a look under the cushions and see if there is an accumulation of dust and dirt. Another unlikely culprit is artificial office plants. The small leaves on the plants make them ripe for the collection of large amounts of dust, and the plant design, especially the tree-like plants, make them difficult to clean easily. If a quick tug on a branch looses a dust storm, you may have a dust problem. Finally, glance at the tops of picture frames as well as behind the pictures. These are areas many times overlooked during routine cleanings.
First, it is important to remember that only about 20 million people in the United States suffer from an allergic reaction to dust mites. That may seem like a lot, but it is only about 6% of the United States population, so you should strive to handle the challenge with more subtlety than you would an OSHA regulation violation. Your workplace may not have encountered personnel with this issue before. Next, set a meeting with your supervisor and review your allergy, how it affects your ability to work in comfort and your findings during your informal inspection of the office. Finally, ask your boss to speak with Human Resources (or allow you to speak with them) to pursue mitigation of your environment.
Having a dust mite allergy doesn't mean you have to work each day in discomfort. Taking these simple steps with your employer will help you be as comfortable at work as you are at home.
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