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Carpet is an IAQ helper? So says researcher

May 15, 2000
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RACINE, WI — “Carpet provides the interior environment the unique benefit of acting as a filter for indoor air.”

Judy Bates, director of research for Racine Industries, Inc., makes the above statement based upon 10 years of IAQ research.

She adds that although there is a perception that carpeting is a source of biologicals, the research does not support this theory and although biologicals can be found in carpets, the data to date indicates “no release from carpet into the air.”

The trap is set

“Relationships between floor coverings and airborne particles,” the most recent study testing whether floor coverings trap airborne, respirable particles or are a source of them, supports this conclusion.

Conducted by the University of Las Vegas (UNLV) and sponsored by DuPont, it was found that with up to 1,000 times the normal number of respirable particles and mold spores introduced into two enclosed rooms with carpet, subsequent walking tests released only 0.007, or 0.2%, of the spores.

What the data does indicate, and what common sense suggests, is that airborne biologicals fall down onto the carpet from the air. They also fall down equally on any other flooring surface.

What carpet brings to the equation, by virtue of its three-dimensional construction and pile density, is the ability to trap and hold biologicals where they land. That is why biologicals are found in carpeting.

Racine Industries cites a comparison between the amount of installed carpet and allergic reactions in Sweden from 1973 to 1990.

In Sweden, carpeting was thought to be an IAQ problem and in 1973 the country began to systematically remove it. By 1990, the amount of installed carpet had fallen from more than 15 million cubic meters to less than 4 million.

In that same period of time, the number of allergic people increased three-fold, from 1 million to 3 million (the population remained relatively constant).

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