Improve Your Indoor Air Quality

Photo: Shaw Floors

Some allergens are more common outdoors, like pollen and mold spores, while others are more common indoors, like dust mites and animal dander. All allergen sources, however, can be present anywhere at any time. And because the cost of air-borne allergy-related illnesses can be staggering – up to $17.5 billion in health care costs and more than 6 million work and school days lost each year – it is in your best interest to prevent and minimize allergy triggers whenever possible.

While outdoor allergens can be hard to control, there are ways to minimize the impact of allergens that occur indoors. Frequent dusting, vacuuming and washing will minimize many indoor allergens, but these activities also can stir them up as well. One way to prevent allergens altogether is to eliminate many of the areas where they can gather. Flooring is one example.

Flooring is one area of the indoor environment where the amount of indoor allergens can be controlled. Certain types of flooring, such as carpet, are simply better gathering places for allergens. Small microorganisms, pollen, dust, dust mites, mold, animal dander, and other substances tend to accumulate in carpet fibers. Other flooring types, such as wood, tend to minimize the accumulation of allergens because there are no fibers to trap these substances. Taking steps to minimize these kinds of allergens can result in improved indoor air quality.

When it comes to flooring, the Environmental Protection Agency finds that hardwood floors improve indoor air quality. This is because hardwood floors do not harbor microorganisms or pesticides that can be tracked in from outdoors. In addition, hardwood floors also minimize the accumulation of dust, mold and animal dander. Both of these findings result in improved indoor air quality.

Study: Carpet can Maintain Indoor Air Quality

Shaw CarpetA series of studies indicates that effectively cleaned carpets can trap allergens and other particles, resulting in fewer particles escaping into the air and thus contributing to the maintenance of indoor air quality.

“These studies challenge the long-held belief that carpet must adversely impact indoor air quality as it pertains to allergy and asthma sufferers,” said Dr. Bruce Mitchell, chairman/CEO of Airmid Healthgroup Limited, a leading independent biometrical research organization that conducted the study. “Effectively cleaned carpets have the capacity to trap allergens and microbial particles, making these particles less available to become airborne and thus maintaining indoor air quality. This makes regularly cleaned carpet a choice for families impacted by asthma and allergies.”

The studies, which were presented at the annual meetings of both the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology (AAAAI) and the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI), evaluated several residential hardwood and carpet products. The studies aimed to determine the depth of allergen penetration in carpet, the levels of allergens found in the air and the impact of carpet cleaning on allergen removal. Prior to cleaning, the levels of airborne allergens, such as cat and dust mite allergens, were less for all of the carpets than the hardwood flooring, even after the carpet was repeatedly disturbed.

After cleaning the carpets, a meaningful reduction in allergens occurred in the carpet and the surrounding air. The carpets were cleaned using the industry recommended method, which included vacuuming, cleaning with a cleaning agent, agitation and hot water extraction.

“These findings add to the existing body of research that indicates that well-maintained and effectively cleaned carpets can be a viable choice for asthma and allergy sufferers,” said Paul Murray, vice president of Sustainability & Environmental Affairs of Shaw Industries.

These studies were supported by Shaw Industries, the world’s largest carpet manufacturer and a leading floor covering provider. They were conducted by Airmid Healthgroup Limited, a leading independent biomedical and aerobiological research organization that helps leading companies develop, innovate and differentiate their products and services through the delivery of market relevant, health based data.

The studies can be accessed at: press.shawinc.com/Airmid