Go Back   DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum > Home Improvement > Flooring

CLICK HERE AND JOIN OUR COMMUNITY TODAY...IT'S FREE!

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 03-16-2005, 11:25 PM   #1
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Fredericksburg, Va
Posts: 32
Send a message via MSN to Benhamcarpetguy
Share |
Post

IAQ and flooring. Briefly.


In another conversation here on www.diyrepair.com, the issue of indoor air quality and how it relates to flooring was raised. I made the statement that carpet was a good choice for sufferers of Asthma, allergies, and other breathing-related problems. This statement was met with some skepticism, which I fully expected, so I want to give at least a brief primer on what I was basing this opinion.

I will try my best to keep from being overly technical. The information I have comes from various scientific studies on this matter. The findings of these studies contradict much of the old knowledge held by experts, which was based on less advanced testing methods, flawed theory, and opinion.

Beginning about 25 years ago, rising energy costs prompted the building industry to create more efficient dwellings. Houses were tightened up by the use of better building methods, seeking to reduce the loss of heat and conditioned air through voids in the building's “shell” This practice has created houses touting far more energy-efficiency that seen before. For this the effort must be commended. However, these same homes have essentially become sealed containers when it comes to air pollutants. Generally, when an allergen or other air contaminant is introduced into a dwelling, it never leaves on it's own. They become part of the environment if you will. The floors, all flats surfaces, the air at all levels, and the duct system will contain this dust. Anybody with Asthma or indoor allergies knows what these contaminants can do to a person's respiratory systems.

At around this time there was a rise in the number of new cases involving Asthma and allergies seen by doctors. A loose set of theory was developed which eventually led to the belief that hard surfaces were more beneficial to sufferers than carpet. The reasons behind this made enough sense at the time. Carpet is after all, a fiber-based material. These fibers, when looked at at a magnified level, are mostly air. Many individual fibers are combined to make up one carpet fiber, which contains “pockets” of air, giving the carpet a “fuller” body. These pockets are generally larger than the size of the pollutants we are discussing. So, common sense will tell us that carpet becomes a sort of sink for pollutants. And this is true.

However, if we stop considering the issue at this point, we haven't looked deep enough. Yes, the carpet will collect and hold contaminants at a higher level than, say, hardwood flooring. But how often is your face on the floor? I dare say most people don't do much breathing at ground level, so it's important to think more about what happened in the home's “breathing zone”ie.4-7 ft. from floor. Carpet, being the great filter it is, holds these particles down, below this breathing zone. Also to be considered is carpet's greater resistance to air flow as apposed to hard surfaces. With all things being equal, walking across a carpeted floor will release less dust into the breathing zones than hard surfaces.

Okay, so far we're still talking about theory. So let me pass on some information obatained from various studies on the matter.


From results of test# 0072198 by Professional Testing Laboratories(Dalton, Ga.)

Five separate tests were performed in a controlled environment.
1-walking test on carpeted surfaces.
2-walking test on hardwood surfaces.
3-Vacuum test with CRI Green Label approved vacuum.
4-Vacuum test with non-CRI Green label approved vacuum.
Finally
5-Dust-mopping of hardwood flooring.


It was shown by these tests that when walking about in a hardwood surface, nearly 9 times the amount of contaminants (peaking at 943.4 micrograms/meter3) were released into the breathing zone of the room than walking on a carpeted surface.

Also, vacuums holding the CRI Green Label ( www.carpet-rug.org) were tested against vacuums not holding this label. The approved vacuums gave a peak contamination level of 35.4 micrograms/meter3 while the non-approved vacuums gave a peak at 553.7 mg/m3.

Finally, when dust-mopping a hardwood floor, the air contamination peaked at a whopping 2032.9mg/m3.

So, the act of dust-mopping a hardwood floor released more than 57 times the amount of air pollutants than vacuuming a carpeted floor with a quality vacuum.

It should be noted that these tests were performed under strict control, with equal amounts of dust released into each tested area.

The point of this is to show that it is far too short-sighted to say that removing carpet will give you a healthier home. Quite the contrary, carpet can actually be seen as a benefit to people who are more troubled by indoor pollutants. The object then becomes finding other ways to improve IAQ(indoor air quality)

Of course we've learned that a good quality vacuum can greatly help in this matter. More information on this can be found at the link above. Proper cleaning is also very important. Carpets should be professionally cleaned a minimum of every 12-18 months(as required by most manufacturers) but I recommend more for people with pets, allergies, Asthma, and the like.

There is also some belief that regular air-duct cleaning can greatly reduce the presence of pollutants in the home. While I personally believe that when properly done this is true, I have been unable to locate specific information supporting this. Of course, once dust is introduced into the ventilation system, it has access to every room connected to that system, so it stands to reason that a clean air duct will stir up less dust. The point is that it's not enough to say, "remove the carpet and your house will be healthier" There are many other factors to be considered.

I hope this information can be of some help to it's readers. Keep in mind that I am neither a scientist nor a doctor, while I have tried to present this information in an easy to read manner( and believe me after reading all the technical jargon in the sources my head wanted to explode) I am relying on the findings of others much smarter than I in this field.

For those wishing to do some further reading I would direct you to:

http://www.carpet-rug.org/drill_down...esttimeout=350
http://www.epa.gov/iaq/
Also a simple Google search of the word IAQ and flooring will turn up many results.

Have a nice day and thank you for your time.
Don


Last edited by Benhamcarpetguy; 03-16-2005 at 11:27 PM.
Benhamcarpetguy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-16-2005, 11:42 PM   #2
Contractor
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Jensen Beach, FL
Posts: 835
Default

IAQ and flooring. Briefly.


I wish that I had this info 25 yrs. ago.
My daughter has asthma as a child. We took up all of the carpet and replaced it with tile. My son spent the first 5 years of his life bouncing off of that tile. He came out pretty muck OK. LOL.

Teetorbilt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-17-2005, 02:46 PM   #3
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 1,267
Default

IAQ and flooring. Briefly.


This will be added to the articles database soon.
__________________
Nathan

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot
Nathan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-17-2005, 02:50 PM   #4
Member
 
Floorwizard's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Alaska!
Posts: 1,522
Default

IAQ and flooring. Briefly.


Wow, very very interesting stuff.

If there are any other links you would like to add, please do. I would like to study up some more.

Although I will have to say, that although the testing is interesting and compells thought, I would have to disagree on one small thing.

Let's see if I can word this right......

If there was a race on which type of flooring can keep the dust in check the best, I would have to say hard surface would win. BUT you would need to swiffer it often to win the race. Just like you would need to vacuum often to keep the carpet in check.
the biggest issue can be dust mites, and they love carpet. A good HEPA vacuum will remove them mostly. A good swiffer can remove the completely from hard surfaces.
So if it was a race, I would have to believe hard surfaces can win.
Keep in mind, that allergy sufferers tend to clean up more than alot of us

Now you mentioned dust moping, so I am not sure if the mop was damp or dry. And I am not sure if they tested the same amount of dust on the surfaces, and then walked all over them to see how much is released by activity.

All in all I think your points are very interesting, and it challenges a theory that has been around awhile, And I can only respect that...
So keep it up, and prove us all wrong

Last edited by Floorwizard; 03-17-2005 at 07:43 PM.
Floorwizard is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-17-2005, 06:26 PM   #5
Newbie
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 3
Default

IAQ and flooring. Briefly.


hmmm
does that "really" make sense?
I am a little skeptical that carpet is healthier than hard surface.
my h2o

Mark Lauzon
www.stoneadvice.com
slab fabricator heaven
Mark Lauzon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-17-2005, 09:49 PM   #6
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Fredericksburg, Va
Posts: 32
Send a message via MSN to Benhamcarpetguy
Default

IAQ and flooring. Briefly.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Florcraft
If there was a race on which type of flooring can keep the dust in check the best, I would have to say hard surface would win. BUT you would need to swiffer it often to win the race. Just like you would need to vacuum often to keep the carpet in check.
I wouldn't say it's the flooring keeping the dust in check, but the more regular cleaning involved as the lack of carpet makes the dust more visible on flat surfaces, prompting more frequent cleanings. Yes, with carpet there is more chance of build-up, as the carpet fibers will trap the particles, however I think we can agree that regular vacuuming is just as important as regular dusting. And while there will be the presence of more dust in the carpeted room, that dust will be held down by the greater resistance to air. Now furniture on the other hand, often covered with fabric, will collect much more dust than carpet, as we're sitting and lounging on our couches shedding skin.(The breakfast of the dust mite.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Florcraft
the biggest issue can be dust mites, and they love carpet. A good HEPA vacuum will remove them mostly. A good swiffer can remove the completely from hard surfaces.
So if it was a race, I would have to believe hard surfaces can win.
Keep in mind, that allergy sufferers tend to clean up more than alot of us
Yes, however it's not merely the presence of dust that causes respiratory problems, it's when the dust is circulated through the “breathing zone”. Carpet holds the dust down until properly vacuumed. According to the test results the carpeted room could contain nearly 57 times the dust particles of the hard-surfaced room.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Florcraft
Now you mentioned dust moping, so I am not sure if the mop was damp or dry.
That's a very good question Flor. The report didn't specify. I'll see if I can find out about that. Thank you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Florcraft
And I am not sure if they tested the same amount of dust on the surfaces, and then walked all over them to see how much is released by activity.
Yes, what was done is, the rooms were found to be completely clean of dust(0.00micrograms/m3) then even amounts were introduced into the areas, the rooms were allowed to settle, then the activity started.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Florcraft
All in all I think your points are very interesting, and it challenges a theory that has been around awhile, And I can only respect that...
So keep it up, and proves us all wrong
I appreciate your input Flor. We can all learn through educated discussion.

Don

PS. I'm working on refining this article, and perhaps doing a short series on the issue, there is an incredible amount of facts out there, beyond the scope of a single writing.
Benhamcarpetguy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-17-2005, 11:21 PM   #7
aka:awesomedell
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: North Central Missouri
Posts: 206
Send a message via MSN to housedocs
Default

IAQ and flooring. Briefly.


Very interseting reading and totally contradicts what I've always considered as gospel in that carpet was inferior to hardwoods and tile floors. Any studys out about the amount of chemical vapors/fumes that new carpet gives off? Personally I can't stand to be in a new house for several days after the carpets are initially installed.
__________________
All you need is ignorance and confidence and success is assured. - Mark Twain
housedocs is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-18-2005, 12:10 AM   #8
Member
 
Floorwizard's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Alaska!
Posts: 1,522
Default

IAQ and flooring. Briefly.


Carpets do off gas and some people who are sensitive to it can feel uncomfortable in the first few days.


this thread is officially on my watch list
Floorwizard is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-18-2005, 12:14 AM   #9
Member
 
Floorwizard's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Alaska!
Posts: 1,522
Default

IAQ and flooring. Briefly.


Check this out who woulda thunk it

Last edited by Floorwizard; 03-18-2005 at 12:17 AM.
Floorwizard is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-21-2005, 03:15 PM   #10
Newbie
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 1
Default

IAQ and flooring. Briefly.


Ok, I agree with that article that if equal amounts of dust are in the environment then carpet is better.

However, in real life, hardwood floors will NEVER have nearly as much dust as carpet. It just isn't going to happen.

I personally have a roomba for my hardwood floors. It keeps my floors spotless. It runs everyday and there is zero dust. There is nothing that can keep carpet dust free.

Hardwoods can be kept dustfree if you clean them everyday. I decided that a roomba was my best option for that and it shines.

After pulling up 13 year old carpet, I certainly will never have it in my house again.
Codewiz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-21-2005, 06:26 PM   #11
Member
 
Floorwizard's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Alaska!
Posts: 1,522
Default

IAQ and flooring. Briefly.


Quote:
There is nothing that can keep carpet dust free.
That is a point I will have to agree with.
Take your normal carpet and carpet vacuum. Vacuum the carpet and then revacuum. There will still be dust and such (mites as well)
Even though carpet will contain some of that, there will still be some released into the air, not to mention critters living there, even if you vacuum twice.
Hard surface on the other hand can have complete clean up.

So all in all, I still believe that if someone who cleans often has carpet or hard surface, the hard surface will stay cleaner and healthier than carpet can ever get.
Floorwizard is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-24-2005, 08:49 PM   #12
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Fredericksburg, Va
Posts: 32
Send a message via MSN to Benhamcarpetguy
Default

IAQ and flooring. Briefly.


Yes, carpet will have more of an opportunity to build up dust given the chance. And yes, hardwood can be easily cleaned to a dust-free condition. But, as Florcraft quite correctly stated,
Quote:
allergy sufferers tend to clean up more than alot of us
Someone concerned about the indoor air quality of their home who has carpet would have a good vacuum with a HEPA filter. Of course, an allergy sufferer with pets or other aggrivating circumstances wouldn't want a house full of shag. But they could certainly have their living areas covered with an intelligently chosen(properly sold) medium cut pile or berber without the carpet alone causing any discomfort.

IAQ(indoor air quality) is about the air you breath. A spotless wood floor doesn't help if your breathing zone is contaminated. When I say carpet can be helpfull it's because carpet can help keep dust on the floor, without looking filthy, until it can be properly cleaned. A good vacuuming regimen, periodic steam cleanings, alnong with a good quality underpadding and the carpet will cause no breathing problems.

Having nothing but hard sufaces it's necessary to clean more often, as you're racing to keep up with the dust. To really make yourself a healthier house takes a number of different actions. From vacuums and cleaning products to air filters to a slew of other things.

I'm not saying get all carpet, just that it doesn't need to be avoided.

I've been working on a list of sorts of ways to improve IAQ, but it's been busy the past week, with more work alling, so it'll be a little slow.

Don
Benhamcarpetguy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-24-2005, 08:53 PM   #13
Contractor
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Jensen Beach, FL
Posts: 835
Default

IAQ and flooring. Briefly.


I still think that I will steer clear of carpeted OR's.

Teetorbilt is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off





Top of Page | View New Posts

Copyright © 2003-2014 Escalate Media. All Rights Reserved.