We talked in a recent blog post about how often to have your carpets cleaned, and today we’d like to drill down to the effect dirty carpeting can have on the health of your building’s occupants.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air pollution is 2 to 5 times – and occasionally more than 100 times – more polluted than outside air! In fact, indoor air pollutants have been ranked among the top 5 environmental risks to public health.
Does that mean that the time you spend in the office – 8 hours, for most of us – is a greater danger to your health than being outside surrounded by exhaust from cars and emissions coming from smokestacks? We’ll leave that one to the scientists, but it certainly is implied in the statistics.
Health effects from indoor air pollutants may be experienced soon after exposure or, possibly, years later. Immediate effects may show up after a single exposure or repeated exposures. These include irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. Symptoms of some diseases, including asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, and humidifier fever, may also show up soon after exposure to some indoor air pollutants.
There are a number of reasons for the significant amount of pollution in the typical office building:
- To reduce energy costs, new buildings are designed to be more airtight, preventing “fresh” indoor air from circulating into the system (and helping “bad” air recirculate)
- Mold, fungi, viruses and bacteria are quickly and effectively circulated through ventilation systems, so what might have been a few isolated cases of the flu likely turns into many, many cases
- Much of the furniture, flooring, equipment and supplies we’re surrounded by each day are made of different types of plastics, many of which contain high levels of chemicals used in their manufacturing. These items give off small amounts of gases that are circulated throughout the building
What does this have to do with carpeting – and what can you as a facility manager do about it?
As a commercial cleaning company in the Fox Valley, we help local businesses improve indoor air quality from at least one important standpoint: carpet cleaning. Carpets do great things (dampen sound, make walking and standing more comfortable, give a professional appearance to the office), but they also have a number of downsides:
- Carpeting holds on tight to dirt, dust, moisture, and microscopic (and sometimes not-so-microscopic) bugs. These (yes, even some bugs!) are circulated throughout the building via the heating and cooling system
- All the impurities in the air can contribute to compromised health and reduced productivity due to lost work days – illnesses like asthma, flu, cold and sinus infections – and in turn erodes the profitability of the business
Benefits of Regular Commercial Carpet Cleaning
Regular professional carpet care performed by a commercial cleaning company (including regular vacuuming and spill touch-ups) has both short-term and long-term benefits to your health. In the short term, frequent extraction of debris from the carpet minimizes the likelihood of it circulating throughout the ventilation system. In the long-term, regular cleaning keeps the carpet fibers from breaking down. When the fibers break down they’re much more “magnetic” to dirt and other nasties.
There are a number of carpet options today that emit lower levels of gases, and adhesives for installing them that are low-emitting, so if you’re about to put down new carpet, you can also help improve indoor air quality by making environmentally sound choices.
Clean your carpeting to enhance the appearance of your office and enhance your overall image. More importantly, clean it for the positive impact it can have on the quality of your indoor air and the health of people breathing it.
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