- Carpet, Asthma & Old Wives' Tales
- By Chris Ryan — posted 05/12/2010
Everybody has heard an old wives’ tale before. These age-old stories include a litany of “magic” cures, peculiar associations, and countless false warnings. These tales have been passed on by word of mouth—and if they didn’t start out untrue, most have become so.
One particularly infamous—and false—old wives’ tale concerns carpet. Many years ago, schools became convinced carpets were causing an increase in asthma rates among students. Based on little scientific evidence, this tale took on a life of its own and eventually became treated as fact by some.
In 2003, nearly 60 percent of U.S. doctors specializing in the treatment of asthma and allergies recommended that patients remove their household carpets as part of the treatment for respiratory disease*.
Just the Facts, Ma’am
But, about 10 years ago, several published studies disproved the old wives’ tale that carpeting could trigger asthma attacks in children. In fact, some studies found that carpeting can actually help prevent asthma attacks.
According to the Canadian Carpet Institute, “carpet holds allergen-causing substances tightly and, as a result, keeps them from becoming airborne. [This minimizes] their level in the breathing zone, [which] translates to lower exposure potential.” In other words, the carpet fibers hold allergens and prevent them from being released into the air.
The Institute says that carpets should be vacuumed regularly with a high-filtration machine to remove allergens. For cleaning, most experts agree the most effective way to clean carpets is the use of hot water extraction, and preferably a truck mount extraction system.
Although some more advanced portables generate as much as 500 psi and heat water/solution to 212 degrees Fahrenheit at the wand tip, a truck mount can generate more than 1,000 psi and much higher temperatures at the wand.
Unless the portable has an auto-fill/dump system, it has to be emptied as it fills. Studies indicate this can take as much as 15 minutes each time the work must be performed. And finally, when the goal is to remove dust mites in carpet and upholstery, a truck mount system releases them outside, into the atmosphere and not within the facility being cleaned.
It is this last feature that is most beneficial when discussing carpets, asthma, and health. Truck mounts deep-clean carpets to help maintain healthy, safe carpeted surfaces, which results in better indoor air quality. Carpeting has been shown to help protect our health, dismissing any old wives’ tales that claim the contrary.
*Source: Carpet and Rug Institute
Chris Ryan is an engineer and project manager in the HydraMaster Engineering department. He writes an ongoing column called “Chris’s Corner” specifically for other service and repair professionals in the carpet cleaning industry. He’s been with HydraMaster for 15 years and is currently involved with research and development for the company. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.