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At SCOTT N. GELFAND, P.A., new to our mold litigation practice is the concurrent prosecution of dust mite personal injury claims in building water intrusion cases.

Dust mites are microscopic creatures that are not visible to the naked eye. Female dust mites are generally between 200 to 500μm in size, with males being smaller. They prefer warm, moist surroundings close to sources of food. Dust mites belong to the kingdom of animals; phylum, Arthropoda; class, Arachnida; and group, Astigmata; with three genera (Dermatophagoides, Euroglyphus, and Blomia) important for humans indoors. The mites most commonly found in house-dust in homes worldwide are D. farinae, D. pteronyssinus, E. maynei, and B. tropicalis. In the Unites States, all of these dust mites may be found indoors, but D. farinae (Der fl) and D. pteronyssinus (Der pl) are found most frequently.

Since adequate food (e.g., human skin flakes) is generally available, it is the moisture and/or relative humidity of a given location that determines mite prevalence. Moisture and ambient relative humidity influence the rate at which feeding mites produce allergens and its accumulation in dust. Lowering indoor humidity can reduce mite population density over time because mites gradually dehydrate and die below 50% relative humidity. Hypersensitivity diseases caused by allergens from mites that live indoors constitute a major health problem in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Dust mite allergens are considered to be the major biological agent for the development of asthma in susceptible individuals. They not only aggravate the problem in susceptible individuals, but also cause susceptible children to develop asthma. House dust mite allergen is the inhaled substance that actually triggers an attack by causing an allergic reaction.

Dust mite allergens are proteins, which come from the digestive tract of mites and are found at high levels in mite feces. A dust mite fecal pellet, containing partially digested food and digestive enzymes, is ~10 to 35μm in diameter and contains allergens (protein) called Der p 1, Der f 1 and mite group 2. These allergens (proteins), when inhaled, attach to sensitized cells in the air passages causing hay fever and asthma, and aggravate atopic dermatitis in people who are susceptible to this problem. Approximately 85% of asthmatics are allergic to dust mite allergens.

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