"Indoor allergens such as dust, dust mites, pet dander or insect droppings and molds can trigger allergic responses in children," said CRI president Werner Braun. "The best way to minimize these allergic threats is to keep a child's indoor environment dry and clean."
"People who worry that carpet is a source for the rise of allergy and asthma in children should be aware of the facts," added Braun. "Carpets that are properly cleaned and maintained actually contribute to a healthier indoor environment. Studies have shown that carpet serves to trap allergens, enabling them to be vacuumed up with a good vacuum cleaner. On a smooth surface, the allergens tend to be recirculated in the air by the flow of people in and out of the environment."
CRI offers the following "dry and clean" tips for parents and teachers for reducing a child's exposure to allergens at home and in learning environments:
1. Maintain humidity below 55 percent. Dust mites and molds thrive in high humidity areas. Maintain a room's relative humidity below 55 percent by using heat and/or air conditioning systems continuously and by using a dehumidifier where necessary.
2. Fix roof and plumbing leaks immediately. Water sources promote the growth of mold, bacteria and other biological particulates. Lack of attention to sources of moisture increases the likelihood of finding mold in ceilings, walls and floor surfaces.
3. Maintain good air circulation when wet-cleaning carpets or hard surfaces. Avoid closing doors after cleaning until the surfaces are completely dry. Make sure the HVAC system is working properly so that air does not stop circulating. While opening windows may improve circulation, open windows can also bring indoors allergens such as pollen and mold spores.
4. Clean and disinfect wet, warm areas such as kitchens and bathrooms at least weekly. This helps control mold growth.
5. Use high-efficiency particulate air filters and change them often. Such HEPA filters can remove airborne allergens such as pet dander and lessen the amount of other circulating allergens. Dust mites and cockroach allergens are heavy particulates that do not stay suspended in the air and settle quickly. These are best removed by vacuuming.
6. Vacuum carpet and rugs at least once a week, twice a week in bedrooms and high traffic areas. Vacuum cleaners may produce dramatically different cleaning results. Look for CRI's "green label" on vacuum cleaners. These are vacuum cleaners that have been tested for and meet strict standards for removing soil from floor coverings and keeping the dirt and dust inside the filter bag and the machine. Smooth floors should be vacuumed, dusted and wet mopped weekly. When sweeping, take care not to circulate dust from the floor into the air.
7. Pay special attention to bedroom cleaning. Sixty percent of dust mite allergens are found in mattresses and bedding. Wash bed linens in hot water weekly and vacuum mattresses regularly. Pillows, mattresses, and box springs should be encased in "allergen control" covers.
CRI (www.carpet-rug.com) is the national trade association representing the carpet and rug industry. Headquartered in Dalton, Ga., its membership consists of manufacturers representing 94 percent of all carpet produced in the U.S., and suppliers of raw materials and services to the industry.