The Netherland's Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) has finalised an exploratory study into the relationship between particulate matter in indoor air and the presence of soft or hard flooring. One of the findings of the study was that textile floor coverings absorb more particulates from the air than their hard equivalents. This is due to the larger micro-surface of soft flooring and its better contact between surface and the air. As a result, the presence of a textile floor covering can limit the concentration of airborne particulate matter indoors.
The exploratory study was performed on behalf of the carpet manufacturer Desso, which has already developed a product intended to reduce the concentration of particulates in indoor air. The majority of people spend most of their time indoors, which exposes them to excessive concentrations of particulate matter, which can can have a wide range of effects on a person's health.
Lack of legislation
The study was conducted under the direction of Dr Jan Duyzer of TNO. He comments, "Neither Europe nor the US have legislation in place to deal with the quality of indoor air in relation to particulate matter. This is remarkable as particularly in North-West Europe, people spend most of their time indoors."
The report confirms that the concentration of airborne particulates in buildings and homes with soft floor coverings is lower than in comparable spaces with hard flooring. Duyzer adds, "To what extent the concentration in specific cases is reduced as a result of the presence of floor covering depends on the ventilation used. However, in most cases, the reduction appears significant."
Cloud of dust
Last year, Desso launched its AirMaster carpet, which is aimed at reducing resuspension - the process in which particles that are settled in the floor are released in the air as a result of air movement - and the whirling up of dust particles. Desso board member Alexander Collot d'Escury comments, "It is striking that we choose to spend a large chunk of our time in a cloud of dust - both at home and in the office,. This can be avoided and we have developed our AirMaster carpet tile for this purpose. "AirMaster can reduce the concentration of particulate matter in indoor air up to eight times better than hard flooring and four times better than standard carpet." A previous study commissioned by Desso and carried out by the independent German test institute GUI, verifies these claims.
Review of the literature and experts
The World Health Organization (WHO) is also very concerned about air quality. This was already apparent in 2006, when the UN agency called on governments around the world to improve the air quality in their major cities.
In a report published in September 2011, the organisation estimated that every year, over two million people die as a result of inhaling particulate matter. TNO's exploratory study consisted of a review of the literature and various interviews with experts, including epidemiologists, doctors, allergists and Public Health Service staff.
Alexander Collot d'Escury adds: "We are very pleased that this TNO study has confirmed the principle we have been working on: textile floor coverings can help to reduce the concentration of particulate matter in the indoor air."
The TNO study, titled 'Oriënterend onderzoek naar het effect van Desso AirMaster tapijt op de blootstelling aan fijnstof in het binnenklimaat' ('Exploratory study into the effect of Desso AirMaster carpet on exposure to particulate matter indoors') is available on request from Desso - see details below.
TNO is one of the largest independent research organisations in Europe. For further information, visit www.tno.nl.