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Asthma and Wool-
The Truth

This article about asthma and wool uses information from the WoolBlog, the blog authored by Stephen Parsons, Market Development & Innovation Manager at Wools of New Zealand.  New Zealand wool is considered the finest wool for construction of wool rugs and carpets. The WoolBlog is an excellent source of information about the construction and manufacture of wool carpets and rugs. 

The Truth About Asthma
and Wool Rugs and Carpets

TRUTH #1 - Wool Carpets are Perfect if You Suffer from Allergies or Asthma!

The most common single cause of asthma is sensitization to house dust, or more precisely to the dust mite, and particularly its waste products. But there’s no reason why asthmatics shouldn’t enjoy the comfort and aesthetic pleasure of wool carpet.  

In fact, not only are carpets in general inhospitable for dust mites, but wool carpet is especially resistant. Research performed by the German Applied and Experimental Allergy Research Association (GAF) showed that when wool and nylon carpets were compared for dust mites populations, the wool carpet performed best in resisting dust mite infestation.

Wool’s long, coarse fibers cannot be inhaled and therefore do not affect asthma sufferers. As long as the air is dry, the ventilation good, and the cleaning regular and thorough, asthma sufferers can breathe easy with wool carpet!

TRUTH #2 -  About Dust Mites and Asthma and Wool Carpets and Rugs

Dust mites feed on human skin flakes and live mainly in mattresses and similar warm, dark places.  Bed-making sends dust mites airborne causing them to be found in floor dust, mainly in bedrooms. 

To the dust mite, carpets and rugs are a hostile environment: too cold, too dry, too exposed to the light and too regularly cleaned.  Since carpets, unlike smooth floor coverings, hold dust in their structure, dust mites will be removed by vacuuming or wet cleaning.

Dust mites cannot live on wool carpets. Also, wool carpets and rugs generally contain very low levels of permethrin, a naturally occurring substance that kills very small insects.

TRUTH #3 - Wool Carpet and Rugs Actually Help to Purify the Air in the Indoor Environment for the Asthma and Allergy Sufferer

By their very nature, wool carpets and rugs are good for the indoor environment. That’s because wool, unlike synthetic fibers, rapidly absorbs common contaminants in indoor air such as formaldehyde, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide.  

Not only does wool keep the air free of many harmful pollutants, it will not re-emit them, even when heated.  In fact, it has been estimated that wool carpets can continually purify indoor air for up to 30 years!

So asthma and wool together is actually a good thing!

Asthma -
Some Helpful Hints

  • Discard old and dirty mattresses, bedding, pillows and furnishings.
  • If possible, sleep with windows open to reduce the amount of moisture in the bedroom (for breathing).  Electric blankets also create a drier environment.
  • Reduce the room temperature and thickness of bedding to reduce perspiration.  Most people sleep better in a cooler room.
  • After you get up, air the bed with the windows open.
  • Avoid placing potted plants, flowers, and other sources of moisture in bedrooms.
  • For children who suffer from dust mite allergy, regularly freeze soft toys for 72 hours. Then wash the soft toys.

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