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Carpet Allergy FAQ

By Michael Hilton

FAQs About Carpet and IAQ: Can carpet affect a person's health?
Although it is highly unlikely you will experience any effects from your new carpet, some individuals during the 1990's reported allergy-like symptoms after new carpet has been installed. Some of these reports resulted in a conclusion that they "could not establish a cause and effect relationship between the carpet and health effects experienced."

Is carpet an emitting product?
New carpet is a very low emitter. As with most other indoor products, choosing a low-emitting product, ventilating, and cleaning are the keys to good air quality.

How long do new carpet emissions last?
New carpetÓ³ emission level will drop significantly within the first 24 hours of carpet installation, and with fresh air ventilation, the emission level will dissipate to an undetectable level within 48-72 hours.

What is the new carpet odor that sometimes is present after the carpet installation?
This possible odor usually comes from a by-product of the synthetic latex binder used to hold the fibers and backing together. It, like a new car odor, will dissipate within a few days, and it is not harmful.

Regarding indoor air quality, is there any difference between natural and synthetic fibers?
No, all types of carpet have very low emission levels, regardless of whether they are natural or synthetic fibers. Fibers typically do not produce detectable chemical emissions. Emissions typically originate from from the synthetic latex binder. However, fibers may absorb odors from the environment and slowly emit these odors. For example, In instances surrounding smoke damage, all fibers will absorb these odors and slowly release the chemicals associated with these odors.

If I am sensitive to natural latex, will carpet produce sensitivity (allergic) reactions?
No, carpet uses synthetic latex, which has no natural proteins that normally produce allergic reactions.

Will carpet removal eliminate my allergic symptoms?
Probably not. There may be a short term improvement, but allergic symptoms inevitably return. Many societies, which do not use carpet, have allergy rates much higher than the U.S. population and some attribute this increased allergy rate to the use of hard surface flooring. After carpet removal, you may begin to notice airborne dust levels (and settled dust on other furnishings) increase significantly, because carpet has the ability to absorb these dust and allergen particles.

If carpet removal does not reduce allergic symptoms, why has my allergist recommended that I remove my carpet?
Since an allergy vaccine has yet to be developed, allergists practice an avoidance theory of preventive medicine. This belief holds that if all allergens and places where allergen can be held are eliminated, patients will realize a benefit. Unfortunately, this practice has had very limited success. flawed thought process.

Can carpet removal in my home or child's classroom increase the incidence of allergic episodes?
Possibly. Some school systems, who have followed the advice of physicians and consultants by removing carpet, have noted a significant increase in the incidence of reported allergy symptoms. Some of these school systems returned to the use of carpet following increased allergies, increased maintenance costs, and the inability to obtain a conducive learning environment with hard floors.

Did you know?

During the early stages of Indoor Air Quality assessment, carpet was thought to play a significant role in indoor air quality. This impact was initially thought to be negative, however as research continued and comparison's to other flooring surfaces were performed, carpet was found to have many positive attributes that contributed to good indoor air quality. Is there such a thing as Carpet Allergy? An insightful look at carpet, carpet cleaning, and carpet allergy. Good science indicates carpet may be less of a source of allergen than previously thought.

About the Author
Michael Hilton was the original creator of Carpet Buyers Handbook. Having owned and operated a carpet wholesale company, Hilton has a vast knowledge about all-things carpet related as well as other types of flooring.

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