The Hidden Health Risks of Filthy Carpets
By Lana Hawkins
Although carpets can help you create an atmosphere of coziness and warmth in your home, they actually represent a major source of hidden toxins that can endanger your health. Not only are they home to numerous allergens, including dust and mould, but they may also contain high levels of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that are used in their production. Through off-gassing, these compounds are realized into the air and may cause serious health problems in the case of prolonged exposure. Thus, it’s of the utmost importance that you clean your carpets meticulously and regularly. By taking care of your carpets and rugs properly, you’ll be able to minimize the risk of the following health issues.
Weakened immune system
Filthy carpets contain a range of different hazards, including mould, dust, VOCs, fungi and other toxins. Although your immune system can protect you from bacteria and diseases, prolonged exposure to a great number of toxins can increase your stress levels and weaken your immune system. Consequently, you become generally much more susceptible to diseases. Thus, it’s vital that you clean your carpets, eliminate moisture in your bathroom and keep your bath mat dry, as well as remember to clean your vacuum cleaner to prevent dirt from spreading through your home.
Respiratory problems are one of the most common issues caused by filthy carpets. Dust mites, mould, VOC and other harmful organisms hide deep within carpet fibres, feeding on human skin cells, dirt and pet hair. Simple activities like walking or moving your carpet trigger their release into the air, leaving you and your family exposed. The inhalation of these particles can cause a variety of respiratory problems, ranging from simple coughing and sneezing, to severe allergic reactions and asthma attacks. It has even been shown that filthy carpets can cause asthma in people who haven’t had it in the past due to irregular cleaning. Furthermore, mould particles that grow in filthy carpets produce mycotoxins, dangerous microbes, polluting your indoor air and causing serious health problems, such as hypersensitivity, neurotoxicity and even cancer.
Increased stress levels
According to numerous studies, living in an unhealthy and unclean environment can actually increase your stress levels and cause anxiety. Since your mental and physical health are closely connected, this can actually weaken your immune system and cause a range of psychosomatic health problems, including headaches, stomach irritation, sleep disorders, high blood pressure and even heart disease. Thus, it’s essential that you create a healthy and clean environment that will contribute to your general well-being. This includes keeping your carpets safe and clean, as well, which will reduce your indoor air pollution and make your home more enjoyable.
As already mentioned, filthy carpets are fraught with toxins and allergens that can cause a range of health problems, including skin irritation and infections. In addition, filthy carpets may attract pests, such as cockroaches and rats, collecting even more germs. Consequently, all of these hazards can cause redness, itchiness, swelling, rashes and other skin problems. The most common fungal infection associated with filthy carpets is athlete’s foot caused by simply walking barefoot. This is an even more serious problem for families with small children who have just started crawling. To eliminate the risk of skin irritation and other health problems, you should completely remove wall-to-wall carpets and introduce smaller area rugs. Not only are these more stylish, but they are also easier to clean. You should choose rugs made of jute, cotton, wool and other natural materials that meet the safety standards. You can always find lovely natural rugs online that will both elevate your home décor and keep you and your family safe. Nonetheless, make sure to clean them regularly and properly and replace your old carpets and rugs every 8 to 10 years.
While carpets and rugs are stylish accessories that can introduce interesting patterns and unexpected pops of colour, they are often home to numerous toxins and allergens that can endanger your health. Thus, it’s of the utmost importance that you clean them regularly, choose natural materials and be aware of the possible problems they can cause.
AUTHOR BIO: Lana Hawkins is an architecture student and blogger from Sydney, Australia. She enjoys writing about interior decoration and landscaping. Lana is interested in sustainability and green building, and that's where she gets most of her inspiration from.