Indoor Air Quality is a subject that’s on everyone’s mind these days. Recently the EPA put into the Congressional Record the fact that indoor air is more polluted than outdoor air. The problems and health threats associated with poor indoor air quality have become extremely widespread.
As a result of these recent events, we’ve decided to educate you, our clients, on how to maintain a safe and healthy environment for you and your family. Carpet cleanliness can affect indoor air quality and therefore requires carpet cleaners to focus on health issues as well as appearance.
The average person spends 90% of their time indoors. Every time you walk into your house, you bring in pollutants of all kinds with you. For example, the day after you spray for bugs, the concentration of insecticide is 10 times stronger in your carpet than it is outside where you sprayed. Can you imagine your child or grandchild crawling across that carpet, putting their hands in their eyes and mouths?
Carpeting can actually improve indoor air quality, if it is properly maintained. This because your carpet is much more than a pretty soft flooring covering. It is the largest air filter in your home, holding soil, bacteria, pollens, chemicals and other contaminants that would otherwise become airborne.
Dr. Michael Berry, Ph.D. is former Deputy Director of the EPA Environmental Criteria and Assessment Office. In his book Protecting the Built Environment: Cleaning for Health, Berry says that most indoor cleaning problems are related to dirty carpets, but this problem can be solved through maintenance and restoration. He compared carpets to a sink that collects pollutants of all kinds from indoors and out. As the sink gets filled up (the carpet gets polluted), it stores more and more dirt, dust and contaminants. When the sink is full, it needs to be emptied.
If a carpet is not cleaned on a regular basis, it can become a breeding ground for bio-pollutants, says Dr. Berry. It is crucial to regularly empty the sink and make sure that your carpets are cleaned properly. Most people clean carpets because they look dirty, although by the time you can see the dirt in the carpet, it’s probably filthy. Rarely do people clean their carpets in an effort to protect their health, Berry says, but cleaning carpet regularly will improve indoor air quality.
You’ve heard the idea about indoor air being more polluted than outdoor air. Well, it’s true. The main reason is because indoor air is trapped. Rarely does it get completely replaced. Outdoor air on the other hand gets blown away and new, cleaner air replaces it. Trapped indoor air acquires pollutants from your carpet. You drag them in, and they get lodged in your carpet. Then, when someone walks over them, they get re-dispersed into your air and you and your family breathe them. You can even see that when you look at a stream of sunlight and see all that dust floating around. You breathe that air over and over.
There is a way out of this vicious cycle. Getting your carpet cleaned thoroughly and regularly gets rid of these pollutants in your carpet.
You see, the pollutants in your air first infiltrate your forced air duct system. Then that polluted air is circulated and some of it settles on horizontal surfaces–the largest horizontal surface being your carpet. That’s why cleaning your carpet is the best solution for indoor air pollution. And that’s why we recommend cleaning all rooms of carpet even if they don’t look dirty. Cleaning all your rooms will keep those pollutants from being re-dispersed into your air and spread around the house again. Otherwise, it’s kind of like washing your hands and face but never behind your ears
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also recognizes the effect of regular carpet cleaning on indoor air. Cleaning includes regularly scheduled wet cleaning or extraction for total oil removal. Extraction cleaning is the most effective way to remove soil. The accompanying chart lists EPA recommendations on carpet cleaning frequency based on environmental conditions.