We investigated the cause of optical transmittance degradation in tapered fibers. Degradation commences immediately after fabrication and it eventually reduces the transmittance to almost zero. It is a major problem that limits applications of tapered fibers. We systematically investigated the effect of the dust-particle density and the humidity on the degradation dynamics. The results clearly show that the degradation is mostly due to dust particles and that it is not related to the humidity. In a dust free environment it is possible to preserve the transmittance with a degradation of less than the noise (±0.02) over 1 week.