Shaw Industries Group, Inc., the world’s largest carpet manufacturer and a leading floor covering provider, recently released news of a series of studies that were carried out at airmid healthgroup comparing the impact of carpet and hardwood floors on indoor air quality. The studies showed 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.
Carpeting in the home has historically been associated with indoor exposure to allergens, therefore carpet removal in favour of hard flooring is frequently recommended to asthma and allergy sufferers as part of broader home allergen avoidance measures. Yet the available data on flooring and allergen exposures do not necessarily support this advice. Numerous studies have found that carpet acts as a bio-contaminant reservoir, with higher concentrations of dust, bacteria, fungi, house dust mites, and allergen being found in carpeted floors than in uncarpeted floors. The greater bio-contaminant levels in carpets may appear to be a reason to advocate hard flooring. However, it is important to emphasise that asthma and allergy sufferers are predominantly affected by the bio-contaminants that are present in the air in their breathing zone rather than what is present on or within the flooring surface. Therefore the focus shifts from the fact that carpet is a greater bio-contaminant reservoir to whether airborne levels of bio-contaminants are greater in the presence of carpeting or hard flooring.
To examine this question, allergen containing test dust was aerosolized into one of airmid‘s environmental test chambers that had been fitted with hard flooring or carpeted flooring. Monitoring of the effect of walking and ball bouncing on the floor revealed that airborne particle counts were lower, and airborne and surface allergen levels no greater, in the presence of carpeting compared to the levels associated with hard flooring. Allergen predominantly accumulated in the carpet base after the room disturbances. Introduction of increasing amounts of test dust resulted in increasing allergen levels on carpeted surfaces, but this was not associated with increased levels of airborne allergen. Cleaning reduced allergen levels on the carpet surface and in the base; however this was not reflected in a significant reduction in airborne allergen levels. Three used carpets from US homes were also examined. Their allergen content varied, but cleaning generally reduced allergen levels and led to a significant reduction in airborne particle counts.
In contrast to widespread beliefs, the evidence shows that carpets can be associated with reduced exposures to airborne particles and that airborne allergen levels in the presence of carpets are similar to those found with hard floors. Rather than recommending one flooring type over another, guidance on a thorough and effective cleaning regime may be more beneficial to home occupants with asthma and allergies.
Environmental Test Chambers
Environmental Field Studies
About airmid healthgroup
airmid healthgroup helps clients with products and services related to the built environment to differentiate their customer offerings through health relevant marketing claims. Clients include Dyson, LG, Stanley Steemer, 3M, Fellowes, Tarkett, Spring Air and Kenmore. airmid healthgroup creates value for clients through a number of collaborative strategies, including field research projects, environmental test chamber studies and licensing our own intellectual property. airmid healthgroup specializes in studying the relationship between allergens, viruses, bacteria, molds or other ultra-fine particles in the air and on surfaces to the spread of illness and disease in buildings. As a leading authority on biomedical and aerobiology research, they use this deep domain knowledge to improve products and services to make the indoor environment as healthy as possible.
The world’s largest carpet manufacturer and a leading floor covering provider, Shaw Industries Group, inc. is a vertically integrated manufacturer that supplies carpet, hardwood, laminate, resilient, tile & stone flooring products and synthetic turf to residential and commercial markets worldwide. A wholly owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. with more than $4.5 billion in annual sales and 23,000 associates, Shaw is headquartered in Dalton, Georgia, with salespeople and/or offices located throughout the US, as well as Australia, Canada, China, India, Mexico, Singapore and the United Kingdom. For more information, visit shawfloors.com/about-shaw.