This blog post was written by Karen C. Dannemiller, Sarah Haines, and Rachel Adams. Their contact information is at the bottom of this post.
Carpets are a favored flooring type. They can be soft, cozy, and warm – and help with keeping noise levels down. Carpet can even help prevent injury. While these attributes are well recognized, what is less known is how carpet compares with other flooring types in affecting your indoor environmental exposures. To help address this gap in understanding, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation sponsored a workshop, held at The Ohio State University on July 30-31, 2019. We are excited to announce a publication stemming from that workshop that presents a state of the field and identifies key research areas.
The workshop and publication authors represent an interdisciplinary group of individuals with diverse perspectives on carpet, including from the manufacturing industry, the cleaning industry, government and non-profit organizations, and diverse fields within academia. In total, there were 40 people involved in the workshop and/or publication of the corresponding article.
Carpet constitutes about half of the US flooring market and is thus critical to study in terms of its impact on indoor environmental quality. Broadly, topics included what carpet is and current market trends, how carpet impacts indoor chemistry and microbiology, how carpet impacts resuspension and exposure, policy/standards related to carpet, sustainability of carpet, and open research questions within these areas. It became clear that carpet acts an important indoor reservoir, and therefore serves as both a sink and source for chemical and biological agents. Carpet has a substantial surface area, and can support chemical transformation. Carpet manufacturing, recycling, and clean-up also has an important environmental impact. In the future, strategies and technologies could be developed to enhance carpet design in order to maintain what we love about carpets while reducing human exposure to indoor contaminants.
The open-access article, entitled “Ten Questions Concerning the Implications of Carpet on Indoor Chemistry and Microbiology,” can be found in the journal Building & Environment at this link: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.buildenv.2019.106589.
Rachel Adams, PhD
Project Scientist, University of California,
Sarah R. Haines
Graduate Research Associate, The Ohio State University