Microscopic Mite - Big Trouble
Grain mites (also known as flour mites) are typically about 600 µm long (about 6 human hair widths) and are one of the most common mites that infest food and feed products. Microanalysis was recently involved in work to identify possible human irritants in dusts as part of an occupational exposure investigation.
A surface dust sample was refined in our laboratory to abstract the respirable (PM4) fraction which was subsequently placed in an electron microscope for examination.
Amongst the chaff, the usual suspects of quartz, kaolinite and mica particles could be observed; but one stood out – a grain mite. These mites are responsible for extensive damage to grain, primarily through the germ and can be responsible for spreading fungal spores through large volumes of grain. Grain mites are known to cause allergic responses in certain individuals and can cause severe itching to the skin.