Shaw study: Carpet can maintain indoor air quality

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January 6/13, 2014; Volume 27/Number 18

Dalton—A series of studies indicates that effectively cleaned carpets can trap allergens and other particles, resulting in less matter escaping into the air and thus contributing to the maintenance of indoor air quality.

Shaw Industries supported the studies, which 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.

“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 and CEO of Airmid Healthgroup. “Effectively cleaned carpets have the capacity to trap allergen 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. They 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 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 specific agent, agitation and hot water extraction.

According to the conclusion of phase I of the study, “Different floor coverings have a significant impact on airborne particle concentration. In general, airborne particle concentrations were lower with carpet as opposed to the hard floor. This difference was also shown to be dependent on the ability of the carpets to trap and retain particles from the air.

“The pile height and carpet [fiber] composition seemed to influence the particle retention capacity of the carpets… a 100% nylon medium pile height broadloom carpet consistently performed best in terms of low levels of airborne allergen and bioaerosol detected throughout the study…[a]irborne allergen levels also remained low during vacuuming and steam cleaning.”

Paul Murray, vice president of sustainability and environmental affairs at Shaw Industries, concluded, “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.”

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