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J Occup Environ Hyg. 2004 Apr;1(4):237-42.

Influence of wear, pile height, and cleaning method on removal of mite allergen from carpet.

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Wool Research Organisation of New Zealand, Christchurch, New Zealand.


Carpet is a major sink for house dust mite allergen. Vacuum extraction methods have been shown to reduce concentrations of such allergen in dust, but the influence of carpet construction and cleaning parameters on the efficiency of extraction is poorly understood. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of construction, degree of wear, and cleaning method on ease of removal of the primary allergen (Der f I) derived from the North American house-dust mite, Dermatophagoides Farinae. Carpets of different pile heights were seeded with house dust, some were then subjected to artificial wear, and all were then either dry vacuumed or wet extracted. The Der f I content of carpet cores was measured at each stage. As a result, the degree of wear and pile height were shown to be the two most important factors determining ease of Der f I removal from carpet. For worn carpet, dry vacuuming of short pile constructions was shown to be significantly more effective (p </= 0.05) than for longer pile height constructions, while removal of Der f I using either wet or dry vacuum extraction techniques was shown to be more efficient (>61%) for unworn carpet than for worn carpet (<30%). Only minor differences between types of cleaning method (wet vs. dry) were found. This study suggests that carpets differ greatly in their propensity to retain allergens, and that a consideration of carpet age, construction, and cleaning regime is important when advising the merits of different floor covering types, and on allergen avoidance techniques.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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