Leading allergists agree that wood floors are the perfect choice for a healthy home. According to the American Lung Association, by having wooden floors in your bedroom and other rooms can dramatically improve air quality in your home for you and your household. When you think about it, it is not a surprising statement when a very big American company which recycles old carpet has said that most of the used carpeting it receives for recycling contains at least 35% of its weight in household dirt. Yes, you just read that right! 35% of the carpets weight is muck…
A report by the Healthy Flooring Network draw’s information from several reports and experiments carried out by leading health groups worldwide. It draws broad conclusions on the role fitted carpets play in determining the total allergen load in the home and the importance of this on the level of allergic disease suffered by you and your family.
Comprehensive studies in the United Kingdom found that 50-70% of asthma suffers are also allergic to house dust mites. Did you know that up to 100,000 dust mites live in just one square metre of carpet? It is reported that 98% of UK homes have carpets fitted which is why you can easily see that the UK has the highest occurrence of asthma in 13-14 year olds in the world at 19.8%, along with the second highest rate of eczema.
Carpets that are treated have themselves come in for huge criticisms. When tested 3 out of 4 carpets that were listed as being treated against dust mites contain chemicals of a hazardous nature. Theses chemicals included organotins, phthalates, permethrin, triclosan, brominated flame retardants and formaldehyde. The World Health Organisation has recommended that the carpet treatments used are less hazardous alternatives.
One study showed that the mite allergen concentration in dust from carpets could be 6-14 times higher than that from wood & laminate flooring.
Exposure to the mites in the first, crucial year of life can trigger a lifelong allergy. There is no cure, only prevention – controlling house dust mite populations – focusing on dust control, to reduce the concentration of dust-borne allergens in the living environment by controlling both allergen production and the dust which transports it.
House dust mites are not just restricted to carpets there are nearly universal in occurrence, a typical bed mattress may have contain anything from 100,000 to 10 million mites. Ten percent of the weight of a two year old pillow may be composed of dead mites and their droppings
Pets are the second most important cause of domestic allergy and over 50% of asthmatic children are sensitised to allergens of cats and/or dogs. As with human allergies, having fitted carpets is strongly associated with having high pet allergen levels. Even when you remove a pet from a house the allergen levels can remain extremely high for quite some time to come.
Points to Note
- Carpets contain the largest amount of mite allergens in your house
- By having fitted carpets in your home will dramatically increase the total mite allergen level compared to having laminate or wood flooring.
- Up to 100,000 mites may live in one square metre of carpet.
- Carpets 6-14 times more dust mite allergens than laminate or wood flooring.
- Fitted carpets increase pet allergen levels for the same reason why they increase mite allergens.
How can we help reduce the number of dust mites?
- Replace feather and down pillows with synthetic fillings.
- Enclose the mattress top and sides with a plastic cover, thoroughly vacuuming mattress pillows and the base of the bed. Dampen and wipe the plastic mattress cover daily.
- Change and wash pillowcases, sheets, and under blankets, and vacuum the bed base and around the covered mattress weekly.
- Use nylon blankets rather than woollen or cotton ones.
- Wash all bedding, including blankets, mattress pads and comforters and curtains, as often as possible, in hot water (60oC weekly).
- Frequent hoovering as a solution is likely to aggravate allergic asthmatic conditions because conventional vacuums are inefficient as dust collection by conventional hoovers results in an increase in air borne dust. Vacuuming is best performed by cleaners that trap dust in a liquid medium such as water rather than a dust bag, i.e. use a carpet cleaner every now and again to actually effectively remove allergens.
- Replace carpets with wood, tile, linoleum or vinyl floor coverings. (If you have carpets, vacuum every day.)
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