Do your friends and family have problems with allergies or asthma? If so, the carpet or rugs in your house could be part of the problem and not a solution at all.
Scientists are learning every day that the human immune system is complex in ways that we do not understand. Our bodies have not evolved as quickly as our technology has. When it comes to our health and well being, simpler, more natural products are often better.
One of those is wool. In the mid-20th century, man-made fibers were all the rage. Scientists and researchers found ways to “improve” upon natural fiber products, creating fabrics and fibers that were stain resistant, wrinkle resistant, easier to dye, and generally more durable. While these qualities made them seemingly ideal for items like clothes and carpeting, they may not have some other qualities natural fibers like wool has. Wool:
- contains a substance called permethrin that kills very small insects.
- treated with lanolin, is water resistant, air permeable, and antimicrobial
- is resistant to bacteria, mold, and mildew.
- insulates both ways, keeping warm air in – and out. It is used effectively in both warm and cold climates.
- absorbs sound, odors, and other contaminants. When used in carpet, it can purify the air for up to 30 years.
- ignites at a higher temperature than other fabrics and requires more oxygen to burn. It does not melt like synthetic fibers either. It’s a wonderful overall protective material, which makes it an ideal fabric for firefighters, policemen, and others in dangerous professions.
As a carpet fiber, wool is particularly useful for keeping the home quiet, pest and dust free, and for reducing asthma and allergy attacks. In general carpeted floors are better for keeping dust and dust mites in check. Carpet traps dust mites which can then be vacuumed up. However wool is even better than synthetic carpets for asthma and allergy sufferers because it both traps and naturally repels tiny insects, acting with a two-pronged strategy to eliminate dust mites. It also cannot be inhaled. The millions of Americans are allergic to dust mite waste might find significant relief by switching to wool carpeting.
The Environmental Protection Agency has stated that indoor air quality is one of five main health threats people face, and recent European studies have clarified the health dangers of too much fine particulate matter in the air. The increased use of natural fibers as air purifiers, and in lieu of synthetic fibers, can only improve general health quality.
All of the other benefits of natural fibers, and wool in particular, should be considered when making choices for furniture and apparel. The choices our grandparents and ancestors made to make our lives healthy and comfortable are not always as “outdated” as we may believe and often had rational basis for their selection. Maybe it’s time to give them another try.