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What does NOMITE stand for?

You may see Pillows and Duvets and other filled bedding carrying a green NOMITE label. This means they are suitable for those with house dust mite allergy. Following the conclusions drawn from research by Prof. Dr. Hans Jürgens, director of the Institute for Industrial Anthropology at Kiel University, downproof ticking has been identified as a natural barrier to house dustmites. So pillows and duvets using fabric woven to a downproof specification can be safely used to protect against infestation and may carry NOMITE certification.

NOMITE-certified bedding from Allergy Best Buys

The research

Research carried out by Prof. Jürgens In 1992, including 700 field tests, was held to determine to what extent down and feather-filled bedding articles were infested with house dustmites.

Jürgens found the following:

He could not detect any mite populations at all in new pillows and duvets.

In used bedding included in the tests a very low infestation was found. Out of 192 samples collected from used pillows, testing on 78 % resulted in a completely negative count regarding mite allergen concentration. The remaining 22 % of test specimens displayed mite concentrations so low that they qualified as harmless to health from an allergological point of view (less than 10 mites per 0.1 g of dust).

Even the additional testing carried out on a selection of 41 particularly soiled bedding articles, which had not been cleaned for at least 15 years – and in many cases even for a much longer time – confirmed these results. Although some of the samples were mite-infested, their allergen content proved to be harmless to health, as well.

Another test revealed that the tightly woven ticking fabric which encases down- and feather-filled pillows and duvets further reduces the mites’ already low tendency to migrate and settle in new habitats. From the same test it emerged that the ticking fabric provides an additional barrier against mite infestation of bedding articles.

H. W. Jürgens, Ökologische Untersuchungen zu Hausstaubmilben (1992), Der Kinderarzt 23, 1884-1889

Two conclusions

Firstly, the tightly woven down-proof ticking used as a cover for pillows or duvets to prevent down and feathers from leaking out acts as a very real “barrier” to mites. Neither house dustmites nor human skin scales on which the mites feed, can pass through the ticking fabric.

Secondly, the thermal and climatic conditions in down and feather-filled pillows and duvets are highly unfavourable to mites, which depend on humidity to survive.The quick creation of warmth during one’s sleep and the quick reduction of humidity when the bedding is aired make for an environment which is detrimental to mites.

The temperature in down and feather-filled duvets rises very quickly above the value where mites thrive. When you tuck yourself in, it gets too hot for the mites. Later, the humidity which was absorbed by the duvet is quickly released, due to the favourable climate dynamics of the filling. As a result the humidity level drops swiftly below the critical value where mites comfortably survive. Simply put, it gets too dry for the mites.

H. W. Jürgens, Ökologische Untersuchungen zu Hausstaubmilben (1992), Der Kinderarzt 23, 1884-1889

German magazine ÖKO-TEST states on the topic: “Mites do not like these variations in temperature. They prefer constant temperatures, such as the ones you would find in synthetic bedding articles. The precondition for this, however, is that the down and feathers are properly treated. They are therefore washed with a sort of curd soap, then spun and dried at a temperature over 100C (212F) before they are filled into the shells.“

Further studies confirm these results. Referring to the Guideline on Allergy Prevention by the German Allergy Prevention Action Alliance (Aktionsbündnis Allergieprävention) issued in 2004 the Medical Association of German Allergologists (Ärzteverband Deutscher Allergologen e. V., ÄDA) recommends the following: “Contrary to what has so far been recommended, synthetic bedding is not favourable. It is preferable to use natural materials, such as down and feathers.“

Borowski, C., Schäfer, T., Allergieprävention. Evidenzbasierte und konsentierte Leitlinie. München 2005