December 1, 2006

Study on carpet and allergens out soon

We’ve all heard it before. Carpets and rugs can make your allergies worse. Some people even tear carpeting out of their homes in hopes of cutting allergy attacks, especially if they have small children.

But is there any truth to that piece of conventional wisdom?

“For approximately three or four years, we have been collecting data on the level of dust and allergens in rooms that are carpeted vs. rooms that are not carpeted,” said Werner Braun, president of the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI), an industry group based in Dalton.

“All of the analytical data that we have been able to generate shows there are much higher levels in a noncarpeted room than a carpeted room,” he said.

But Braun doesn’t just want you to take the CRI’s word for it. Two years ago, the group approached the federal government to perform its own study.

“When we went to allergy doctors with this information, the response was ‘Interesting. But where’s your clinical study?’” he said.

The government put up $1.2 million for a three-year study. That study, Braun says, is currently being conducted by scientists at Emory University in conjunction with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Georgia chapter of the American Lung Association.

Braun says the study should be completed next year.

The study will determine whether the presence of carpets affects lung functions and allergy symptoms.

“When this study is finished, doctors will be able to make good sound recommendations as to what the best floorcovering will be if you have people in your family with asthma and allergies,” he said.

Braun emphasizes that the CRI has no direct involvement with the CDC study.

“We are trying to keep an arm’s-length distance from this so there can be no inference that somehow the CRI influenced the outcome of the study,” he said.

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