Carpet Does Not Exacerbate Allergies
Allergists routinely recommend carpet removal due to allergy
concerns based on an allergen avoidance theory. Allergists believe that if all possible places where allergen can be held
are eliminated, allergic reactions will disappear. However, the removal of carpet has never produced a reduction in
allergic reactions. The incidence of allergy sufferers that use carpet is about the same as for those who avoid carpet.
Numerous studies have been performed in cultures that do not use carpet and allergy rates per capita are very similar to the
U.S culture where heavy carpet use is the norm.
1973, based on anecdotal evidence that carpet contributed to allergic reactions, the Swedish government banned the used of
carpet in all public facilities. Carpet was replaced with hard surface flooring materials in homes, commercial environments,
government buildings, and carpet market share fell from approximately 20% of the market share to less than 2% of the total
flooring market share. Follow-up studies by the Swedish Central Statistics Bureau indicated a dramatic increase in reported
allergies by the Swedish population following carpet replacement. As carpet was removed and hard surface flooring was installed,
the incidence of allergy increased among the Swedish population. This alarming increase was in direct proportion to the amount
of hard flooring materials installed. This ban was removed after 17 years when the dramatic increase in allergic reactions
Most of the mite allergen in
the home can be found in pillows, mattresses, or upholstered furniture. In fact, 30% of the weight of the average pillow
is comprised of dead human skin scales (dust mite food source) and dust mite allergen. The average mattress can weigh
as much as 100 pounds more than when originally purchased due to the accumulation of the matter. While carpet is typically
mentioned in connection with allergies, pillow and mattress accumulations of these allergens pose a far greater exposure risk.
Greatly Reduces Allergens
show that carpet cleaning reduces the amount of mite allergen in carpet by more than 90% with each cleaning. Dust mites
tend to have seasons in which they proliferate. Due to elevated humidity, dust mite populations tend to increase during
the spring and summer and the population diminishes during the heating season when the air becomes much drier. By scheduling
carpet cleaning in bedrooms, media rooms, or other rooms, where time is spent on the floor, during September and October,
allergen can effectively be removed before accumulation of allergen becomes an exposure risk.
In addition to regular cleaning, new treatments have become available which have
been proven to be effective in eradicating dust mites. Some products containing benzyl benzoate have received mixed
scientific reviews relating to their efficacy. To date, the most effective product brought to market is a product produced
by The Ecology Works ( http://www.dustmitex.com/). This EPA registered product, (Dust Mite Control) can be added to the rinse water during cleaning
and applied during the carpet cleaning process, or it may be applied as a separate treatment on a regular basis to prevent
the accumulation of dust mite populations and their associated allergen.
It also must be noted that even though all carpet is characterized under one classification, there
are numerous qualities of carpet with numerous construction characteristics. Residential carpet is very different from
commercial carpet in its release characteristics. Loose constructions, have the tendency to release far more contaminants
than tighter constructions.
For any flooring
surface, effective maintenance and utilizing the philosophy of cleaning for health is a primary element in ensuring occupant
wellness. Carpet acts as a trap for airborne allergen. Once allergen becomes trapped within the pile of the carpet,
it must be removed. Without carpet to act as a filter, allergen tends to remain airborne or may become airborne with
each footstep. Studies reveal carpet is very effective in trapping this allergen without releasing it into the breathing
zone. Carpet cleaning has proven to be very effective in extracting this allergen and removing it from the indoor environment.
A good common sense approach for people with allergies is to install carpet and perform regular cleaning to remove the allergen.
Carpet is a Good
Choice for Those With Allergies
the allergen removal efficiency of carpet and wood or tile flooring, allergen removal is much more effective with carpet than
with hard surfaces. Vacuuming of hard surfaces can be initiated as an effective extraction tool, but vacuuming of hard
floors is rarely performed.
studies have shown that proper carpet selection, along with an adequate maintenance program, can reduce the amount of allergen
in carpet and provide a suitable living environment. In one such study, dust mite allergen levels in carpet were significantly
reduced over the course of one year. The study involved 12-year old carpet that had received neglectful maintenance.
Despite heavy concentrations of mite allergen, levels were continually reduced over the course of the study. Hot water
extraction alone produced a 92% reduction, while vacuuming continued to reduce allergen levels on a daily basis. No
airborne dust mite allergen was detected during the two-year study. This study was performed using regular maintenance
Allergens can found in any environment.
The presence of allergen on any surface does not necessarily identify a source of allergens or a cause for allergic reactions.
The ability to remove these allergens or a flooring surface’s ability to contain these allergens without releasing them
into the breathing zone should be the primary factor in choosing floor covering material. Carpet can fulfill these requirements
by providing a surface that absorbs airborne allergen without releasing them into the breathing zone and provides construction
characteristics that allows for effective removal as a result of routine maintenance.
Key Points to Consider
The replacement of carpet with a smooth flooring surface does not produce the results expected by allergy patients.
Allergy rates per capita in cultures that do not use carpet are very similar to the U.S. culture where
heavy carpet use is the norm.
Syndrome is respiratory disease that can cause potentially fatal cardiovascular complications. In the mid-80's the disease
began to be linked with carpet cleaning. Is is true? Is there really a link between cleaning and Kawasaki Syndrome? Is carpet
Kawasaki Syndrome first appeared
in Japan in the 1960's after being discovered by Dr, Tomisaku Kawasaki, and has been found to cause cardiovascular complications
in infants and young children. Symptoms include prolonged fever that does no respond to antibiotics, along with conjuntivitis
in the eyes, cracked lips, and swelling, peeling, and redness in the hands and feet.
In 1982, an outbreak of Kawasaki Syndrome occurred in Denver with 23 reported cases. Eleven out
of 23 children had been exposed to carpet cleaning within 30 days of the outbreak. Twelve of the 23 had no contact with carpet
cleaning at all.
The Media Scare
The media made the link between carpet
cleaning and the disease, causing widespread panic among parents. The existence of such a link has been debated ever since.
On one side, several in the medical community feel that carpet should not only not be cleaned, but should be removed from
the home entirely. On the other, industry professionals counter by stating there has never been even the slightest bit of
evidence that would link the disease with carpet cleaning.
A 1985 study in in Colorado
revealed a link between
Kawasaki Syndrome and living near small bodies of water. Four subsequent surveys performed by the CDC (Centers for Disease
Control) of other outbreaks, one detailed investigation by Maryland state health officials, and other studies by investigators
in eastern Ontario and western Quebec revealed no relationship to carpet cleaning. Since most cases of the disease
have no relationship to carpet cleaning, carpet cleaning is not necessarily a factor for Kawasaki Syndrome.
What the Experts Say
This is explained
clearly on the Kawasaki Syndrome Foundation web site (http://www.kdfoundation.org/).
Dr. Michael Berry, former director of the National Center for Environmental Assessment, in his
book "Protecting the Built Environment: Cleaning for Health", states that most indoor cleaning problems
are related to dirty carpets, but this problem can be solved through maintenance and restoration. Carpet acts as a sink
to collect pollutants of all kinds from indoors and out, according to Berry. As the carpet gets polluted, it stores more and
more dirt, dust, and contaminants. When the sink is full, it needs to be emptied.
If a carpet is not cleaned on a regular basis, it can become a breeding ground for biopollutants,
Berry says. It is crucial to regularly empty the sink and make sure that your carpets are cleaned properly. He adds that the
medical community recommends that people remove carpets from buildings and homes, but it is wrong to assume that all carpets
will become contaminated and affect people's health. Rarely do people clean their carpets in an effort to protect their
health, Berry says, but cleaning carpet regularly can improve indoor air quality.
The Carpet and Rug Institute has conducted numerous studies regarding carpet and its effect on the environment. Their
conclusion as stated on their web site: "Recent studies show that, contrary to sensationalist media reports, carpet is
a safe, cost-effective flooring choice for virtually any indoor setting". Their web site can be found here (http://www.carpet-health.org/).
What About Use
Although there may be some products used in
carpet cleaning that people should be cautious with, most carpet cleaning chemicals are similar to detergents used to clean
clothes, according to Dr. Azziz Ullah, president of FABPRO, Inc. "In most cases, I think water-based products are relatively
safe, as most of the dangerous chemicals used by cleaners in the past are no longer used. The chemicals used in carpet cleaning
are very similar to those used to clean your clothes."
cleaning products are considerably less toxic and dangerous than what a consumer can buy and put under their sink for their
own cleaning chores. Commercial products are formulated in professional strength, but when diluted for actual use they become
significantly weaker and therefore less likely to cause any irritation on the part of the user or others.Note: Mac's Steamer Carpet Cleaner only uses safe cleaning products with low
VOC (volatile organic compounds) emissions to ensure the safety of the technicians as well as the residents.
EPA Cleaning Chart
The Environmental Protection Agency has conducted numerous studies on indoor air quality. Their findings show
that regular cleaning significantly reduces pollutants within a structure. More frequent cleanings are recommended for homes
where children and pets are present.
CLEANING FREQUENCY GUIDELINE
Contaminated Outside, Dusty
Extremely Cold Weather
High Humidity Biogenic
Day Care Center
(2 persons, non-smoking)
(young children with pets)
Food Service Establishment
(From – U.S. EPA Letter, January 1989)