Residential / Health & Environment

Indoor Air Quality


For allergy and asthma suffers, the critical issue is the amount of dust and allergens present in the air. In the past carpet has been unfairly singled out for its alleged association with dust and allergies.

However, those views are little more than urban myths.

A major study by the German Allergy and Asthma Society (DAAB) (ALLERGIE konkret 2/2005) found that wall-to-wall carpet reduces dust in the air by 50% of that found above hard flooring surfaces.

The researchers concluded that for particularly sensitive persons already suffering from previous damage to their airways, “the selection of a flooring material that binds dust and does not emit it to the air to be breathed is an essential preventative aspect”.

A properly maintained carpet traps dust particles, removing them from the breathing zone and, compared to hard surfaces, particles are retained within the carpet pile structure.

Fine dust concentration Particulates (µg/m3)
Fine dust concentration with hard floor covering 62.9
European Safe Limit Standard 50.0
Fine dust concentration with carpet floor covering 30.4

(Source: German Allergy and Asthma Society)

The German study backs up the views of Australian respiratory experts Marks and Abramson in their paper ‘House dustmite avoidance: Facts and fiction’ (Asthma Update 2001). Reviewing evidence of the effectiveness of the various dustmite exposure minimisation strategies and clinical evidence, Marks and Abramson conclude that removing carpet has not been demonstrated to reduce overall dustmite allergen exposure in the home and recommend against any drastic and unproven lifestyle modifications such as removing carpet.

It has now been proven that a properly maintained carpet has a positive effect on indoor air quality.

Further information

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VOC emissions

VOC 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 VOCs in the indoor environment are cleaning agents and polishes, cosmetics and deodorants, dry cleaned clothing, building materials (e.g. adhesives, laminates, caulking compounds, medium density fibre board), furnishings (e.g. furniture, drapery and floor coverings), office equipment (e.g. photocopiers and laser printers), cigarette smoke and air drawn from outside.

Carpets and VOC’s

As part of the manufacturing process, carpet passes through a finishing oven at 150°C to 170°C. This drives off most of the volatile chemicals including solvents in adhesives and raw materials, leaving a product with a low VOC content.

When compared to other building materials with significant indoor exposure, carpet is a minor contributor to VOC emissions. Approximately 90% of VOCs discharged from carpet dissipate within a few days of installation.

In addition, carpet has a purifying impact on indoor air quality by absorbing VOCs e.g. formaldehyde, and trapping particulates present in indoor air.

Note: During installation of new carpet, the area should be adequately ventilated.




Slip Resistance

Flooring and stairs can be a risk factor for slips and falls in buildings. And the most common hazards are hard slippery surfaces that do don’t absorb energy impacts when falls occur.

Most injurious falls occur in the home and those most at risk are the elderly and children.

Carpet is slip resistant because of the product’s piled surface. This is confirmed by the results obtained from commissioned testing carried out by independent laboratories. 60 carpets were tested in accordance with the requirements of Australian standard AS 4586:2013 – Slip resistance classification of new pedestrian surface materials. All carpets tested achieved P4 or P5 slip resistance ratings. For dry surfaces which is the majority of carpet installations only a classification of P3 is required (other than ramps steeper than 1:14).

Carpet, with or without underlay, can also reduce the severity of slip and fall injuries because the surface provides greater impact attenuation than hard flooring.

Wall to wall carpet and carpet tiles provide a safe, slip resistant surface option.

Acoustics

Carpet softens harsh sounds and creates a quieter and more productive indoor environment.

Carpet is the only method available for eliminating excessive noise generated by floor impacts such as noise produced from footfalls and also helps to reduce sound reverberation to acceptable levels. While there are other sound absorption alternatives such as acoustic ceiling tiles and panels, they do not reduce floor impacts and for this reason cannot achieve the same overall reduction in noise levels.

Noise attenuation is yet another reason why carpet is an excellent floor covering choice where functionality and fashion are important.

Thermal Insulation

Carpet is an exceptionally good thermal insulator.

The insulation value of carpet is similar to fibreglass insulation and can be up to ten times higher than that of other floor coverings. Further increases in thermal insulation are obtained when carpet is installed over underlay.

Carpet can help to significantly reduce energy costs in heating and cooling, and hence greenhouse gas emissions, when there is a temperature differential between the indoor air and that under the floor. Uninsulated floors account for 10 to 20% of heat loss from a home.

A carpeted floor feels warmer underfoot and does not require the heating that a room with a smooth surface may. This will add further energy savings.

The greatest benefit from a carpet is obtained when as large an area as possible, preferably wall to wall, is covered. This is because the reduction in heat loss is proportional to the area carpeted.


Further information

Click here to find more information from a carpet ManufacturerRetailer or Product & Service Suppliers