It's a common misconception that carpet can adversely impact allergy and asthma sufferers. Recently, Shaw Industries commissioned a series of scientific studies that indicate that effectively cleaned carpet can reduce airborne allergens, making it a viable choice for families impacted by allergies and asthma.
Carpet and Indoor Air Quality
In a recent study, it was shown that carpet trapped allergens to a greater extent than hard surface floors, resulting in fewer particles escaping into the air. Allergens trapped by carpet did not return to the carpet's surface or the air, even when the carpet was disturbed by walking or other similar activities. Furthermore, effective carpet cleaning - such as vacuuming with a high-efficiency filter and hot water extraction reduced both surface allergens and airborne particle counts, maintaining indoor air quality.
This independent series of studies were commissioned by Shaw Industries, the world's largest carpet manufacturer and a leading flooring provider, and conducted by Airmid Healthgroup limited, a leading biomedical research organization that conducts health-based research. The data were presented at the 2012 annual meetings of the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology (AAAAI) and the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI).
Studies were conducted by installing carpet in a stainless steel test chamber room. The room with the carpet was allowed to stabilize in the environment and then a known amount of dust containing allergens was introduced into the test chamber. Measurements were taken with very sophisticated electronic equipment that has the ability to quantify the amount and size of the particles in the air. After the introduction of the dust with allergens, the room was left with no disturbance for a period of time with measurements monitoring the time it took for the dust to "settle" out of the air. A person then disturbed the environment using the following methods: opening the door, sitting in a chair, walking around the room, and bouncing a ball. Measurements were taken during and after each disturbance.
For more information on the study and its findings, visit press.shawinc.com/Airmid/
Prior research in 2002, performed by Professional Testing Laboratory studied the effect of foot traffic on air quality, using commercial carpet and commercial hard surface flooring. Following 16 minutes of foot traffic over both surfaces, the particulate concentration over the hard surface flooring was found to be four times that of carpet.
Other studies, including one using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), have reinforced these findings and concluded that carpets actually reduce exposure to particulates and potential adverse health effects.
In a paper from 2008, "Carpet, Asthma, and Allergies - Myth or Realty," Dr. Mitchell Sauerhoff, Ph.D., DABT, examined numerous scientific studies and other research contradicting some long-held beliefs on carpet's alleged negative characteristics. Sauerhoff concluded, "...based on the available science, carpet does not cause asthma or allergies and does not increase the incidence or severity of asthma or allergies symptoms. In fact, with respect to asthma and allergies, multiple studies have reported fewer allergy and asthma symptoms associated with carpet."