So What's The Big Deal,
I Wear a Dust Mask at My Desk!

The indoor air quality of one's workplace is not at the forefront of most people's minds. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor air pollution is two to five times greater than outside air and can contain as much as one hundred times the amount of pollutants as found in the air outside. Makes you wonder, what are you breathing? Indoor air pollution is creating greater health risk than the exposure to outdoor air pollution. According to the EPA, indoor air pollution is one of the top five environmental risks to public health. According to the World Health Organization, 30 percent of all buildings pose a serious health hazard due to indoor air pollution. The question is why and what can be done about it?


Over the past several decades we are constructing more tightly sealed buildings to save on energy. Rather than opening windows we rely on ventilation controlled by mechanical dampers. Any biological contaminants (mold, fungi, viruses, bacteria growth) can be easily spread through the ventilation system. Volatile organic compounds (VOC's) are also released into the air, which aggravate allergies, asthma, and other chemical sensitivities. Carpet acts like a giant filter, which traps and collects all types of indoor air pollutants preventing these trapped pollutants from returning to the breathing zone. Few people realize that a carpet is a secret reservoir of allergens. Carpet traps dust, dirt, dander, moisture, pests and pest feces. Eventually the carpet fills with these pollutants and stops working efficiently as a filter, much like a furnace filter.


Dr. Michael Berry, PhD. is former Deputy Director of the EPA Environmental Criteria and Assessment Office. In his book Protecting the Built Environment: Cleaning for Health, Berry says that most indoor cleaning problems are related to dirty carpets, but this problem can be solved through maintenance and restoration. He compared carpets to a sink that collects pollutants of all kinds from indoors and out. As the sink gets filled up (the carpet gets polluted), it stores more and more dirt, dust and contaminants. When the sink is full, it needs to be emptied. If a carpet is not cleaned on a regular basis, it can become a breeding ground for bio-pollutants, says Dr. Berry. It is crucial to regularly empty the sink and make sure that your carpets are cleaned properly. Most people clean carpets because they look dirty, although by the time you can see the dirt in the carpet, it's probably filthy. Rarely do people clean their carpets in an effort to protect their health, Berry says, but cleaning carpet regularly will improve indoor air quality.


To make matters worse, regular maintenance vacuuming using improper vacuums and improper vacuum bags lift these contaminants out of the carpet and release them back into the air through poor vacuum filtration. Dylos Corporation states in their article "What is Particulate Matter?"; "PM2.5 (Particles smaller than 2.5 microns) can stay in the air from hours to weeks and travel very long distances." A high filtration vacuum bag, which traps and holds contaminants as small as 0.1-micron in size, installed in an upright all brush beater bar vacuum is a must, for regular vacuum cleaning, to guard against airborne particulates. Unfortunately, very few cleaning companies are aware of this or don't care to spend the additional costs associated with creating a safe environment. A high filtration vacuum bag, which traps almost all pollutants as small as 0.1-micron in size, costs about double that of a standard bag. We at dryit use a double bag filtration vacuuming system. We use high filtration vacuum bags that are inserted into a high filtration zipper bag to greatly reduce airborne particulate.


Frequent carpet cleaning can improve indoor air quality by permanently removing harmful pollutants. If cleaning is neglected, carpet can turn into a breeding ground for biological contaminants and pollutants. Carpet cleaning provides a greater level of acceptable indoor air quality by reducing biological contaminants, gas phase organics and microscopic particles we breathe. The EPA, the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) and the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning & Restoration Certification (IICRC) all state carpeting should be cleaned first for health then appearance. Cleaning carpet regularly does more than improve the appearance of the carpet; it provides employees and customers a safer and healthier indoor environment. We at dryit specialize in carpet maintenance programs designed to keep pollutants to a minimum and leave the carpet clean, fresh and healthy... all year long.


References:
Dylos Corporation; http://www.dylosproducts.com/whispama.html

David Webster, http://www.healthier-cleaning-products.com/indoor-air-quality.html

Dr. Michael Berry, Ph.D; "Protecting the Built Environment"

3450 N. 127th St.   •  Brookfield, WI 53005-3107  •  262-790-6700  •  E-mail: inquiries@dryit-inc.com  •  Fax: 262-790-6755