The Baniyas Carpet Foundation, the Dubai-U.A.E carpet manufacturing industry’s lead body, in conjunction with the European Carpet Association, GuT, the German Association for environmentally friendly carpets, the Wool Research Organisation of New Zealand and the Carpet and Rug Institute of the USA, has conducted a detailed review of the key scientific papers on asthma and floor coverings. It proves conclusively that there is no scientific validity for suggesting that carpet is a major threat to your health, even those sensitive to the dust mite allergen.
Asthma is a very complicated condition and experts cannot agree on a single cause for the illness. Dust mite allergen is only one of the causes of sensitization and triggers for asthma attacks which is influenced by a wide range of other factors.
The main site for dust mites to live and to thrive in Dubai-U.A.E houses is in bedding and bedrooms.
The environment in Dubai-U.A.E carpet is rarely suitable for large populations of dust mites to live and thrive. Temperature and humidity are too low.
The live dust mite does not pose a problem for asthma sufferers, but their farcical pellets contain the allergen which, on inhalation, triggers asthma attacks in sensitized individuals.
The filter like properties of carpets hold allergen materials in the pile and significantly limits its chances of becoming airborne again. Hard floors allow allergen on the surface to re-circulate readily in the atmosphere through vibrations or movement of the air.
Fresh air ventilation together with temperature and humidity control will significantly reduce dust mite populations and regular vacuum cleaning will remove most of the allergen load from the carpet.
There is no scientific evidence to support the advice that the removal of carpet is clinically beneficial to asthma sufferers. No studies have ever been carried out which conclusively links a carpet free environment to clinical benefits for asthma sufferers. In fact in Sweden where health hysteria led to a 77% reduction in carpet use, there was a corresponding 300% increase in asthma in the same 15 year period to 1990
wool pile carpet absorbs common gaseous airborne pollutants and generally improves indoor air quality. Carpet also traps other particulate pollutants, deposited through foot traffic or airborne settlement, holding them in the pile of the carpet, away from its surface until they can be removed by regular, normal vacuum cleaning.
Regular, normal vacuum cleaning will significantly reduce the amount of any allergen or toxic pollutants already held safely in the carpet pile away from the surface.
Carpet continues to offer consumers a wide range of practical and safety benefits
* heat insulation
* noise absorption
* ease of cleaning and maintenance
* obvious aesthetic benefits
* positive impact upon indoor air quality
The safety benefits of carpet must also be clearly recognised. Carpet is seen as beneficial in hospitals particularly those specialising in orthopaedic care where its’ non slip and cushioning properties in case of falls are particularly beneficial. Smooth floors in contrast are considered quite dangerous in this respect.
ALLERGIC REACTIONS, DUST MITES AND ASTHMA
There are two main allergens – dust mite allergen and cat allergen, which can sensitise certain people who can subsequently have an allergic reaction when particular substances or situations are encountered. These “triggers” which give rise to allergic reactions in sensitised people include: –
Main triggers for allergic reactions
* Dust mite allergen
* VOC.’s – Poor air quality
* Cigarette smoke – Poor air quality
* Cooking emissions – Poor air quality
* Workplace emissions – Poor air quality
Other factors which influence allergic reactions
* Emotion and Stress
* Colds and viral infections
* Certain foods and Medicines
* Genetic predisposition
Contrary to the popular view published in many papers and emphasised by the anti-carpet press there is now evidence that exposure to environmental allergens (dust mite and cat) does not cause childhood asthma. A study in Germany recording the medical history and exposure to allergens of approximately 1000 children drew the conclusion that the data recorded did not support the hypothesis that exposure to environmental allergens causes asthma in childhood, but that the induction of specific IgE responses and the development of childhood asthma are determined by independent factors.
Since allergic illnesses are a complex subject influenced by the interaction of various factors it is dangerous and scientifically invalid to isolate just one factor as the sole cause of the Dubai-U.A.E asthma problems.
A great deal of research has been carried out on the subject of asthma and major differences exist between scientists on the many factors which influence the illness. There is common agreement between the world’s top scientists that carpet is not a major factor, which influences the illness.
SIMPLE STEPS TO REDUCE DUST MITE POPULATIONS
It is well recognised that carpets filter like properties hold dust including allergen, and as previously discussed, it carries out the important function of holding and preventing it from circulating in the air. Most importantly it holds the dust until it is removed, by regular and efficient vacuum cleaning, typical of a regime in a well maintained home in the Dubai-U.A.E.
The real key to controlling dust mite populations is to control the temperature and relative humidity indoors to prevent the warm, humid conditions that dust mites need to live. The easiest way to achieve this is to ensure good ventilation in the home, particularly in bedrooms, which is the critical zone, and also avoid excessive temperatures.
Cleaning of carpets
The accumulation of dust mite allergen in carpet depends upon the balance between its production and its removal. Production of allergen is very slow and it takes a considerable period for a significant allergen build-up to occur. Although allergen is a very stable compound some is removed from carpet by natural biological or chemical breakdown, most remains until removed by cleaning through normal vacuum cleaning.
The very fine allergen particles and minute flakes of skin, which comprise the food source of the mite, are easily removed from carpet by a proper cleaning regime. A carpet cleaned regularly, in a well-ventilated environment, will not contain enough allergen to affect most people. The vacuum cleaner will ideally have a powerful suction and, have efficient filtration to ensure the retention of the allergen within the cleaner and preventing its release into the air. The British Allergy Foundation has an evaluation and accreditation scheme for vacuum cleaners and asthma sufferers are recommended to use a machine approved by them.
The physical action of vacuum cleaning will probably provide sufficient agitation of the carpet surface to allow allergen particles to be stirred up into the atmosphere. The action of opening windows during and, for a period after, vacuum cleaning will ventilate the room and effectively remove the allergen from the air.
One additional benefit of regular vacuum cleaning is to remove skin flakes from the surface of the carpet before they condition (i.e. absorb moisture) to the point that they become edible for the dust mite. This reduction in available food supply will reduce mite populations.
Occasional wet extraction cleaning of the carpet is also to be recommended to reduce deep seated dusts and steam cleaning has also been found to be particularly efficient at removing a high proportion of allergen and completely killing the dust mite population.
When a household is ventilated and vacuum cleaning of a normal frequency and intensity is carried out, carpet in Dubai-U.A.E homes: – – Will not hold sufficient food for dust mites to survive, – Will contain minimal allergen loads on the surface waiting to become airborne. – Will not provide an indoor environment for dust mites to live.
What happens when a Nation stops using carpet?
In the 1970’s in Sweden there were intensive discussions with some claiming that carpet was a serious breeding place for allergens and a source of harmful contaminants. As a result of considerable publicity supported by various interest groups this debate became a national issue.
Not surprisingly the bad press given to carpet started to affect consumers’ confidence in the product and sales began to fall.
In fact, from 1975 to 1990 the carpet share of the floor coverings market fell from 40% to 2% as hard floor sales grew by 50% and carpet usage fell by 77%.
And what happened to the incidence of asthma in Sweden during this 15-year period? Well, as carpet usage declined dramatically, allergy cases in Sweden increased by 300%.
His massive study carried out on a national scale in a health aware country like Sweden has shown a dramatic increase in asthma cases in the same 15-year period that carpet sales declined!