A prediction of dust mite populations in different categories of housing quality in Auckland, New Zealand



New Zealand has one of the highest asthma rates in the world, frequently linked to the quality of housing. A confirmed causal factor for asthma is the dust mite allergen, with environmental factors such as temperature and relative humidity (RH) linked to the proliferation of dust mites. Whilst significant research has been undertaken into the habitat and ecology of dust mites, little research has been conducted comparing different categories of housing quality in relation to dust mites.


A dust mite population prediction algorithm (POPMITE) was used to undertake a comparative analysis of the potential of three housing types (old, newly constructed and newly constructed green certified) to harbour dust mites.


The results determined no statistically significant difference between the quality categories, and the hypothesis that newly constructed, more insulated dwellings would have lower predicted dust mite populations was rejected. Instead, the newly constructed dwellings exhibited a wide range of predicted dust mite populations indicating a potential sensitivity to occupant behaviour in new housing stock which was not experienced in the older vintage dwellings.


Occupant behaviour is suggested as an influencing factor with a call for policy makers to consider real-time feedback loops to dwelling occupants, in conjunction with structural interventions, to improve the health of the interior environment.

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    Human Participants Ethics Committee approval was granted prior to installation of the data loggers.





Absolute humidity


Critical equilibrium humidity


Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus


International Energy Agency


Low-powered wider area network connection


Museum of Transport and Technology


New building stock


New Zealand Building Code


Old building stock


A dust mite population prediction algorithm


Relative humidity


Warrant of fitness


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This study was supported by funding from the Building Research Levy.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Rochelle Ade.

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Conflict of interest

R. Ade is a Homestar Assessor and has worked as a Homestar Assessor for the Building Excellence Group. R. Ade also has an interest in Tether. M. Rehm declares that he has no competing interests.

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Ade, R., Rehm, M. A prediction of dust mite populations in different categories of housing quality in Auckland, New Zealand. Allergo J Int (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40629-020-00130-w

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  • Dust mites
  • Indoor environment
  • Temperature
  • Relative humidity
  • Housing
  • Asthma