Leading allergists agree that wood floors are the perfect choice for a healthy home. According to the American Lung Association, wood floors in your bedroom and other main living areas can drastically improve air quality.
A report by the Healthy Flooring Network draws information from several studies carried out by leading health groups worldwide. These studies have identified broad conclusions on the role fitted carpets play in determining the total allergen load in the home and the importance of this on the severity of allergic reactions.
The Dreaded Dust Mites
Detailed studies in the UK have found that 50-70% of asthma suffers are allergic to house dust mites. This study found that up to 100,000 dust mites live in just one square meter of carpet. In fact, 98% of UK homes have fitted carpets, and the UK has the highest prevalence of asthma symptoms at 19.8%, along with the second highest prevalence of eczema.
Carpets that are treated for dust mites have also been criticized. When tested, 3 out of 4 carpets treated against dust mites contained chemicals of a hazardous nature.
These chemicals included organotin, phthalates, permethrin, triclosan, brominated flame retardants, and formaldehyde. The World Health Organization has recommended that they are substituted with 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 and laminate flooring.
House dust mites are not just restricted to carpets; they are nearly universal in occurrence. A typical bed mattress may have contained anywhere from 100,000 to 10 million mites. 10% of the weight of a two-year-old pillow may have dead mites and their droppings.
Reducing Pet Allergens
Pets are the second biggest cause of domestic allergies – over 50% of asthmatic children is correlated to allergies to cats and/or dogs. Again, the presence of fitted carpets is strongly associated with high pet allergen levels.
Here are some key points to consider:
- Carpets can contain the largest reservoir in the total amount of mite allergens in the home.
- The presence of carpets in a home can dramatically increase the total mite allergen load compared to having laminate or wood flooring.
- Up to 100,000 mites may live in one square meter of carpet.
- Carpets can hold 6-14 times more dust mite allergens than laminate or wood flooring.
- The presence of fitted carpets is particularly strongly associated with high pet allergen levels.
Solutions to Allergy Issues
Now that you know all about what causes allergies in the home, here is a list of potential solutions.
- 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; vacuum the bed base and around the covered mattress weekly.
- Use nylon blankets rather than woolen or cotton ones.
- Frequently wash all bedding (blankets, mattress pads, and comforters) with hot water. Also, be sure to wash curtains.
- Vacuum frequently as a dust control measure is more likely to aggravate allergic asthmatic conditions.
- Replace carpets with wood, tile, linoleum or vinyl floor coverings. If you have carpets, vacuum every day.
If you found these cleaning tips helpful, be sure to read our blog post about our 3 Quick Carpet Cleaning Tricks.