Is Your Carpet Making You Sick?
If you have carpeting in your home, did you know that this choice of floor covering could actually be making you sneeze? Carpeting has long been recognized as a major allergy trigger, in large part because dust mites, mold, and other common allergens can become trapped within the carpet weave.
A Good or Bad Thing
Some people who sell carpeting may tell you that wall-to-wall covering can be good for you since the allergens are stuck in the fibers rather than lingering in the air, where they can cause your allergies to flare. But if you are very allergic, you will likely find that the carpet and allergies link is very present nonetheless. In fact, when you spend time in rooms with carpeting, you could find your symptoms kicking in worse than ever.
Carpet and Allergies: A Bad Combination
That's why most allergists suggest removing installed carpeting throughout your house, particularly from areas like bathrooms and kitchens, which can be areas of high moisture that could lead to mold and can trigger the carpet and allergies reaction. It is also wise to avoid carpeting areas in any rooms in your home that are below ground level, such as finished basements and recreation rooms. These can be high risk for flooding and resulting mildew, which can cause or aggravate allergies.
Just realize that just because you may be allergic to your carpeting, you don't have to go without any layer between the floor and your feet. You can opt for area rugs that are easy to clean regularly.
Keep it Clean
Further, if you do decide to keep carpeting in your home, you don't have to resign yourself to that allergy itch and sneeze. There are some simple steps you can take to help your carpeting come clean.
- Plan to vacuum it at least once a week or even more often if possible, preferably using a vacuum that has a HEPA filer or a special bag that traps allergens inside. (If you have pets, you may even need to vacuum daily.)
- Select an upright vacuum or a canister that has a very high-powered nozzle strong enough to suck up all of the allergens.
- Empty the vacuum bag before it is full.
- Use rug cleaning products that are natural or chemical free.
- Wear a face mask while you clean.
- Wash area rugs regularly.
New Isn't Always Better
Further, if you find yourself tempted to rip out your existing carpeting and replace it with brand new stock that is free of indoor and outdoor allergy triggers in the weave, talk to your allergist before you do this. Some new carpeting can be treated with chemicals that may in themselves cause an allergic reaction. In addition, most experts say that hardwood floor, tile or linoleum will be much better choices for people with allergies.
Healthy Child, Healthy World
New Mexico Environmental Health and Epidemiology Bureau/Asthma Program
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