As businesses begin to welcome employees back to the workplace, safety and wellness are top of mind.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued guidance to assist with the reopening, and states: “Reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19 by cleaning and disinfection is an important part of reopening public spaces that will require careful planning.”
To be sure, designers and facility managers are faced with multiple challenges in creating the “new” workplace for today. They are looking at everything from innovative lighting technologies that can kill mold and fungus to adding sleek new desk dividers that create division between co-workers.
One area of the workplace that should not be overlooked is the floor covering. Typically the largest usable surface area of any commercial interior, it can impact occupants’ health and safety.
Better Employee Health Through Improved Indoor Air Quality
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans, on average, spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors, where the concentrations of some pollutants are often 2-to-5 times higher than typical outdoor concentrations.
There is a misperception that carpet does not contribute to improved indoor air quality. Independent studies, however, show carpet can actually improve an environment’s IAQ. For example, a 2014 published study – “A Comparative Study of Walking-Induced Dust Resuspension Using a Consistent Test Mechanism” – shows a carpeted floor produced fewer airborne particles than other hard surfaces when walked upon.
A separate study in 2012 showed that when carpet is cleaned in a traditional manner, it significantly decreases the amount of airborne allergens. Presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology conference, it was published under the title of “Properly Cleaned Carpet OK for People with Asthma.”
So how does carpet improve IAQ? According to Carpet and Rug Institute, both of these studies – and similar ones – highlight carpet’s inherent ability to “trap allergens and other particles so they can be easily vacuumed away.” Smooth or hard surface floors, conversely, allow dust and other allergens to collect and then re-circulate into the breathing zone.
According to the Asthma Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), more than 50 million Americans experience various types of allergy each year. Allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S., and are is the most common health issue affecting children.
With its ability to sequester allergens and other particles, carpet can play an important role in creating healthier spaces – whether for offices, schools or hotels.
What’s Next: More Carpet Advantages for Health and Safety
Beyond improving indoor air quality, carpet is proven as a low emitter of VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Studies show that it can prevent slips and improve acoustics. These advantages are essential for today’s Covid-19 built environment, where enhancing occupant wellness and safety must be the first priority.
Our next blog topic will be on VOCs, followed by slip prevention and acoustics.
So check back with us frequently. In the meantime, please let us know if you have any questions or if we can provide more information.