Get the Facts on Carpet and Asthma and Allergies
How Carpet Helps Clear the Air
Not only does carpet add warmth and comfort to any room, it also helps keep the air free of allergens and pollutants when properly vacuumed and maintained.
Simply put, what falls to the carpet - such as allergens, common dust, pet dander and other pollutants - tends to stay on the carpet until it is vacuumed, unlike smooth surfaces that allow these particles to re-circulate. Properly maintained carpet leads to improved air quality and a healthier indoor environment because regular vacuuming with a Carpet and Rug Institute-certified vacuum cleaner locks pollutants in the machine and removes them from the air you breathe.
Here are several facts that support the use of carpet to help prevent asthma and allergy symptoms:
What You Should Know
- There is no scientific study linking the rise of allergy and asthma to the use of carpet. Indeed, several studies actually disprove any correlation.
- A 15-year Swedish study found no link between carpet usage and the incidence of allergy or asthma. In fact, even when carpet usage in Sweden decreased by 70 percent, allergy reactions in the general population increased by 30 percent. Shishoo, R. and Borjesson, A. 1996. Allergy claims 'unproved'. Carpet and Flooring Review (January 5). http://www.carpet-health.org/pdf/AllergyClaimsUnproved.pdf (0.97 MB) Need help with PDF?
- Carpet may even be helpful to people with asthma: an 18-nation study of nearly 20,000 people found a statistical relationship between carpeted bedrooms and reduced asthma and allergy symptoms and improved breathing. Zock, J.P., D. Jarvis, C. Luczynska, J. Sunyer, and P. Burney. 2002. Housing Characteristics, reported mold exposure, and asthma in the European Community Respiratory Health Survey, Journal Allergy and Clinical Immunology 110 no. 2; 285-292. http://journals.elsevierhealth.com/medline/record/MDLN.12170270
- A 2003 study of more than 4,600 school children in New Jersey found that having carpet in a child's bedroom was associated with fewer missed school days and less need for asthma medication. Freeman, N. C.G., Schneider, D., McGarvey, P., Household exposure factors, asthma, and school absenteeism in a predominantly Hispanic community. Journal of Exposure Analysis and Environmental Epidemiology (2003). http://www.nature.com/jes/journal/v13/n3/full/7500266a.html
- Studies have compared the distribution of airborne dust associated with normal activities on hard and soft flooring surfaces. Findings show that walking on hard surfaces disturbed more particles. These particles became airborne and entered the breathing zone. In contrast, carpeted surfaces trapped more particles so that walking disturbed fewer particles. The result was less dust in the breathing zone over carpeted floors. Cicciarelli, Bradley A., David L. Davidson, Edward H. Hart and P. Robert Peoples. CFD Analysis of the Behavior of Airborne Allergens in Carpeted and Uncarpeted Dwellings. Solutia, Inc. http://www.carpet-health.org/pdf/AllergenPaper.pdf (1.24 MB) Need help with PDF?
What You Can Do
- Vacuum regularly and thoroughly. It may come as a surprise that something as simple as regular vacuuming can have a big impact on the air you breathe. When vacuuming, remember to keep the following guidelines in mind:
- Use slow, repetitive front-to-back motions in an overlapping sequence. A quick once-over doesn't do much. Move slightly to the left or to the right every four strokes.
- Don't ignore the corners or crevices where dust builds. Use the proper attachments to clean those difficult-to-reach areas.
- "Top-down" cleaning saves you the step of vacuuming after dusting. Dust blinds, windowsills, and furniture surfaces first and then vacuum away any fallen dust.
- Remember to remove and replace or empty vacuum bags when they are half to two-thirds full.
- Use CRI Seal of Approval cleaning products. An independent laboratory tests solutions, spot removers, vacuums and deep cleaning extractors and systems. Only those that meet high performance standards receive the Seal of Approval. Coming soon: Higher-performing residential vacuum cleaners certified by the newly-enhanced Seal of Approval/Green Label program for indoor air quality (IAQ) and green cleaning chemical certification.
- Order "Carpet Cleaning Tips for Dummies." This handy booklet will save you time by zeroing in on the best cleaning techniques that will help extend the life and beauty of your carpet. It can be ordered for a small shipping handling fee of $2.00.
- Professionally clean your carpet every 12 to 18 months. Regular vacuuming removes soil and dust, but periodic professional cleaning is needed to remove embedded dirt. Check with the manufacturer of your carpet for professional service provider recommendations, many of which can be found at www.certifiedcleaners.org.
- Purchase and install carpet certified with the Green Label or Green Label Plus. These CRI programs make certain that carpet and adhesive products meet the most stringent criteria for low chemical emissions.
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