Hardwood Floors & Allergies
Indoor Allergy Week
With 25% of people in the UK suffering from allergies Indoor Allergy Week will once again highlight the causes of allergies and the best way to avoid the misery caused by interior allergens.
Taking place from 12–18th November, Indoor allergy Week serves once again to underline tried and tested ways to improve the quality of life for allergy sufferers and to minimise risk in the home. With winter drawing in and more time being spent inside, sufferers often experience ongoing discomfort at this time of year.
The dust mite
One of the main causes of allergies is the house dust mite. Because this pest can affect air quality its appearance in the home is bad news for asthmatics, causing shortness of breath, itchy sore eyes, congestion, headaches, constant sneezing and not surprisingly with all these symptoms going on, the inability to sleep. In extreme cases, the condition can be life-threatening.
Dust mites love central heating and grow rapidly in temperatures of 20 – 250. They also love skin, fur and feathers and micro-particles of these help the mites to spread out all over the house.
What to do
Because dust mites multiply rapidly in fabric, bedding, mould and carpets the only way to get rid of them is to ensure upholstery, cushions and bedding are cleaned regularly (at least once a week). Avoid mould by cleaning up wet floors (bathrooms, kitchens) immediately; if there is no moisture then mould cannot grow.
To greatly reduce household allergens get rid of carpets – the dust mite’s natural breeding ground – and install wood flooring that is easy to clean and leaves no room for dust mites and other allergens to thrive.
However you should be aware that certain types of floor covering, and bamboo in particular, can exude volatile organic compounds known as VOCs. VOCs bring on allergies in a large percentage of allergy sufferers. So be sure that any flooring you buy or have installed has been professionally treated for VOCs. If your flooring of choice is not guaranteed to be VOC-free then choose another type of flooring – or a different supplier!
If you are having your wooden flooring laid professionally then you can discuss the use of VOC-free adhesives and other products with your flooring company.
Any type of hardwood (beech, mahogany, oak) is an intelligent option for allergy sufferers. The hardness of the wood means dust mites have nowhere to go but out. Hardwood flooring is also very easy to maintain and can be cleaned by soft brushing and mopping.
Cork is another option for allergy sufferers as it has the distinct advantage of being antimicrobial (repels bacteria, fungus, mites etc). Cork’s robust surface makes it simple to keep clean as well as being a hard-wearing choice. When choosing cork flooring be aware that it should be professionally finished to prevent areas in this porous flooring where mites and mould can gather.
Laminate can also be a viable option, but because the wood is manufactured by gluing layers of wood together it would be wise to discuss this option with a flooring professional before choosing laminate.
If in doubt – ask
Whilst wood is without doubt the most suitable flooring option for allergy sufferers, please take time to ensure your wood comes from a sustainable source. Only purchase wood that has been endorsed by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) so you can be sure the wood you are buying has been responsibly harvested and treated.
Many woods are treated with products to repel insects, fungus and other pests so again be sure to check whether these treatments are detrimental to allergy sufferers.
If you are in any doubt about which wood to purchase then speak to any professional floor sanding company, who should be happy to guide you towards a healthier and allergy-free home.