Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Carpet Versus Tile - Can Carpeting Be Hazardous to Your and Your Kids' Health?

The carpet versus tile debate, as old as travertine itself it seems, continues to confound and confuse people, especially those suffering from asthma and other lung-related diseases.

Carpet provides a soft place to fall, especially for roughhousing youngsters and toddlers learning to walk. For adults, it cushions joints and is easier to stand on for long periods of time. On the flip side, the comfort provided by a carpeting system is also a catch-all for dust, dirt, mildew, mold, microscopic pests, and waste material from family pets.

There is the argument that glues, backing, and padding used to lay carpeting--as well as the carpet itself--can release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that may cause headaches and worsen respiratory problems such as asthma. VOCs can evaporate or off gas into the air; and since they are heavier than air, they settle on the floor, the area where small children are prone to spend the majority of their time playing and sitting.. In colder weather the indoor air quality can become worse due to the build up of the indoor pollutants, exacerbating respiratory symptoms.

Additionally, unwanted pests can thrive in this environment that provides them plenty to eat and a safe haven to prosper and multiply. Dust mites like to live in dark, damp environments like carpet and can be found at its base. In one square meter of carpet up to 100,000 dust mites may be found. The prolific waste produced by these microscopic critters is considered to be a top allergy and asthma trigger. Vacuuming and steam cleaning carpeting help to reduce the dust mite population; however, it does not eliminate it. In fact, if too much moisture is left on the carpeting, mold and mildew may develop; and the dust mites may proliferate.

If pets are thrown into the mix, the carpet is a veritable sinkhole for pet dander, hair, and animal waste particles, as well as the dirt and grime tracked in from the outside. The older the carpet gets, the more debris and dust mite waste collects in the carpeting.

For the aforementioned reasons, many people with health concerns decide to rip up the carpeting and install tile. Travertine is one such popular type of tile in use today as it has a stellar appearance and enhances the beauty and value of a home.

Although dirt in the carpet is no longer a problem once tile has been installed, there is a new challenge to consider: the dust, dirt and debris, once trapped by the carpet, becomes free-floating in the air. For that reason, frequent cleaning of tile is required. It is also suggested that runners, area rugs, and small throw rugs made from natural fibers be used. These can easily be washed, and the floor beneath them can be cleaned.

Making the decision as to whether tile or carpet is the right choice is a very personal one and based on many factors. Even though the carpet versus tile debate will continue, what really matters is one's personal decision as to what will best abate the allergy and asthma symptoms. It does not have to be carpet versus tile. It can be a decision to use carpet and tile in different configurations to achieve the most comfort and minimize the amount of allergens in your oasis that you call home.

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