Several studies report that carpet use contributes to poor indoor air quality, which in turn, causes respiratory issues, allergies, and various irritations. But since it’s hard to find an alternative that brings the same aesthetics and mood that carpets and rugs do, most continue to use carpets despite its downsides. Fortunately, you can now opt for hypoallergenic varieties.
Is this alternative safe?
How hypoallergenic carpets help
Hypoallergenic carpets claim to reduce allergic reactions by addressing issues, like allergenic carpet materials, VOC emissions, and mold development:
- For the pile, hypoallergenic carpets may use synthetic materials—like olefin, polyester, and nylon—which typically do not trigger allergies, and are resistant to mold, mildew, stains, and water damage.
- The same principle is applied to the padding, which uses moisture- and bacteria-resistant material.
- These carpets may also use wool, a natural material that is known for not being allergenic.
- For the backing, they use materials that have lower volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions.
Although carpets are said to emit volatile organic compounds or VOCs, which irritate mucous membranes in your eyes, nose, and throat, according to an environmental research study, the link between carpets, VOCs, and illness have yet to be established through research.
The main health hazard with carpets, then, has more to do with its ability to collect pollutants in the air. Unfortunately, most of the new hypoallergenic carpets address other issues rather than this one.
Hypoallergenic carpets, thus aren’t 100 percent foolproof. A manufacturer’s use of the word “hypoallergenic” here is not a medical claim. However, they are acceptable alternatives to your traditional high pile rug, which sheds off easily, and emits VOCs you cannot see.
Why do carpets make us sick?
Carpets and rugs trap indoor air pollutants. The amount and diversity of pollutants that live in your rug or carpet depend on what enters your home, and how often you schedule it for carpet steam cleaning.
Indoor pollutants are not limited to dirt, dust particles, food crumbs, and stuff toy sheddings. You cannot control what guests and pets bring into your carpeted room, from dog hair to viruses and vehicle emissions.
Moreover, if you haven’t shampooed your carpet for the past two years, just imagine how much allergens have gathered in your carpet pile and padding.
Numerous studies from the ’80s up to the present confirm to one thing: carpets are linked to poor air quality inside buildings, which hastens the onset of asthma in children and exacerbates symptoms among adults. It also triggers reactions in allergy-prone individuals.
Research further reveals that damp environments make carpets prone to developing mold and mildew. These fungi irritate your eyes, nose, and skin. They trigger coughs and throat irritation.
If you have asthma or allergies, it is best to avoid using carpets in your home. You’ll especially want to avoid wall-to-wall carpets and high pile carpets that are more challenging to clean. But if this type of floor covering doesn’t leave you sneezing or coughing too much, try hypoallergenic carpets that use non-allergenic pile, have low VOC emissions, and bacteria-resistant materials.