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Brought up Mar 18, 2010

Is your carpet making you sick?

Back when I was getting my BS in Microbiology I had the opportunity to learn about a thing called, “sick buildings”. These are structures that literally make the occupants sick. Don’t get excited it wasn’t the interior decorating… well not completely. The direct causes of illness tended to be lead paint, asbestos, and black fungus in the swamp cooler. However, the cause that I find most fascinating and important to the general public is the danger of wall to wall carpeting.

Let’s take a look at the microscopic environment of your carpet. Every carpet has fungus. As shocking as that sounds, both common sense and scientific studies back it up. Fungal spores that were picked up from outside, drop off clothing and shoes, and make their way deep into the carpet. For the fungus to proliferate only one spill from glass of water is required. The owner of the carpet might quickly dry the spot, but if the water has socked through the wicking of the carpet at all, it is already too late. The fungus can now grow on the pad of the carpet, hidden from view, proliferating and releasing spores as it pleases. The same is true with many types of bacteria including: Streptococcus, Staphylococcus and E. coli.

Dust mites also thrive in carpeted homes. Dead skin and hair drifts from the body 24 hours a day, most of it falls into clothing and bedding but a huge portion also drifts into the carpet. Dust mites, microscopic relatives of the spider, then feed on the debris. While many people are allergic to dust mites it is also important to keep in mind that a dust mite allergy can be acquired in someone who has never had that allergy previously.

If you or a member of your family is suffering from an illness that doesn’t seem to abate or if your or a member of your family have chronic allergies, removing the carpet should be your first step.

Please, see my next article on how to remove carpeting

Comments (6)

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TPinNJ » 6 years ago

We moved into a home several years ago and had all new carpeting installed. Soon after my child, myself and my husband all developed severe allergies and breathing problems. We have all been diagnosed with asthma and now have to take daily medications. None of us had asthma prior to this. I kept thinking there must be mold in the home so we did some tests which showed no mold problems. I'm now sure it's the carpet that has made us sick!

Sean » 6 years ago

Thanks for the article. Concise yet quite informative.

Ryo » 7 years ago

I'm in the process of removing carpet from at least one of my rooms. That crud is so nasty... I hate carpet. The rest of the house's carpet is at least 20 years old.... nasty nasty stuff!!! Can't wait to get it out of here. I'm gonna need a full-on respirator and hazmat suit to tackle that job...

789miner » 8 years ago

When I was younger I installed hardwood floors. One of my entry tasks was to tear up the carpet,roll it up, and load it onto the trailer. Piles and clouds of dust and nastiness. You get a look at it once it has been disturbed and you won't think so lightly about breathing it. I have no clue why people would want such a thing all for "soft" walking. Just a dumb thing to do. Go wood, tile, hell even shards of glass would be a better health choice.

The next worst thing is insulation. For the love of god get a natural based product. The old fiber glass stuff tears almost anyone up and is hell to work around or remove.

Lastly if you got allergies/respiratory problems - ditch the big fluffly curtains and drapes. It is like wall carpet. Get blinds.

And keep your windows open if you can (bug screens a really smart move on windows). You may want to keep a check on your mattress/bedding too. Lots of things like to live on your bed and you spend a 1/3 of your life in bed with anything that

juliadale » 8 years ago

Thanks Bigoosh, I actually have a dust mite allergy so I have taken carpet out of every place I lived in that would permit me. I plan on doing an article on staining the cement... in case a person doesn't have the means of putting in a fancy hard floor.

bigoosh » 8 years ago

It's kind of funny. I actually had some people come over to give me a quote on removing my carpet and replacing it with hardwood for this exact reason. Over the last couple of years, respiratory illnesses have spread like wildfire through my family and I know its the carpet that was a large part of the problem. I hope people reading this article take this fact seriously.

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