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Carpet , Allergies, Asthma & VOC’s 

Carpet has been a popular floor covering for years because it feels good underfoot, insulates and improves a room’s acoustics.

I have often been asked whether people with allergies should have wall-to-wall carpet.

Allergies are often caused by house dust mites, which thrive in warm, humid environments and are commonly found in carpet, bedding, soft furnishings and clothing.

However, there’s also a growing body of research that suggests carpet actually traps the dust mites rather than allowing them to become airborne and is therefore more beneficial to allergy sufferers.

While research continues, some experts are still advising those with allergies to install hard floor coverings that can be easily cleaned, and floor rugs that can be washed and exposed to sunlight.

The ranges of modern hard flooring available include engineered timber flooring, laminate flooring, vinyl planks and ceramic tiles.

House dust mite allergies have also been linked with an increase in the frequency and severity of asthma.

The Asthma Foundation of NSW recommends:

  • Of the styles of carpet, low-pile varieties are better as there’s less area for dust mites to build up.
  • Vacuum at least once a week, using a vacuum cleaner with a high-efficiency particle air (HEPA) filter, or install an externally ducted vacuum cleaning system. At the very least, use double-walled vacuum bags.
  • While vacuuming, people with allergies should wear a mask and keep doors and windows open.
  • People with allergic reactions should stay out of the room for 20 minutes after vacuuming to give the dust allergens time to dissipate.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s)

In recent years, incidents have been reported where occupant health and comfort problems have been associated with VOC’s in their homes, workplace, or with other buildings.
These cases were qualified as a “Sick-building Syndrome (SBS) or a Building Related Illness (BRI)”
Research shows that building materials play a significant role in causing such problems.

What are VOC’s?

VOC (volatile organic compounds) emissions consist of a range of volatile organic compounds, which at room temperature may be released from materials or products in the form of gases. Some of the common sources of VOC’s in the indoor environment are:

  • Cleaning agents and polishes
  • Cosmetics and deodorants
  • Building materials. (e.g. adhesives, laminates, caulking compounds)
  • MDF (medium density fibreboard)
  • Furniture, drapery and floor coverings
  • Office equipment (e.g. Photocopiers and laser printers)

Carpets and VOC emissions

As part of the manufacturing process the carpet is baked in a finishing oven at 150 to 170 degrees Celsius, which drives off most of the volatile chemicals including solvents in adhesives and raw materials, leaving a product that has a low VOC content. When compared with other building materials with significant indoor exposure, carpet is a minor contributor to VOC emissions. Approximately 90% of all VOC’S discharged from carpet dissipate within 2 days of installation.

After 96 hours, carpet VOC emissions fall to less than 1% of the initial value. The new carpet smell, just like a new car smell, may still apparent, but is of no harm to you.