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Choosing Wool Carpets

Choosing Wool Carpets

Wool carpets are the most luxurious of all carpets. They look and feel good and can also hold their character much longer than synthetics or blends.

Wool is a natural fibre that has the ability to absorb indoor pollutants and contaminants, including formaldehyde, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. Wool fibre has a complex chemistry which enables it to bind pollutant gasses chemically in its structure. It then locks them into its core without releasing them, even when heated by raising room temperature. This brings a major benefit to wool carpet in the improvement of air quality and in creating a healthier living and working environment. It is estimated that this process of purification can continue for up to 30 years.

AgResearch and its predecessors The Wool Research Institute of New Zealand and Canesis have studied the potential of wool carpets to purify indoor air quality using specialised equipment and procedures. A comparison between different fibres was undertaken, concluding that wool has better absorption than nylon, and that polyester had the least absorption. Wool carpet was found to reduce high levels of formaldehyde to virtually zero in four hours, whereas absorption was slower and less complete with nylon carpet.

Other studies conducted by the US Gas Research Institute, comparing 35 building and furnishing materials found that wool carpets have one of the highest removal rates of nitrogen dioxide. In contrast, the removal rate of synthetic carpets was less than half that of wool.

Large amounts of sulphur-dioxide were found to be irreversibly absorbed by wool carpets in research carried out by the Environmental and Medical Science Division of the UK Atomic Energy Research Establishment.

Wool is also one of the safest materials to use in carpeting. Fibres like nylon and polyester burn rapidly giving off large amounts of black toxic smoke.  As the synthetic oil based fibres burn they also start to melt as part of the process, causing severe burning to anyone who comes into direct contact with it.

Wool by comparison is difficult to set alight and will only burn weakly when in the presence of a flame. It will self-extinguish when removed from the flame leaving a char that can be brushed away. There is less chance of ignition, less chance of flames spreading and less smoke as a result.

The single most common cause of asthma is sensitisation to house dust or as it is more correctly referred to as the dust mite and particular its waste products. Wool carpets contain very low levels of permethrin, a naturally occurring substance that kills very small insects. And as wool’s long coarse fibres cannot be inhaled it is an excellent choice of floor covering for asthma sufferers.

Once your carpet has given you years of enjoyment what happens at the end of its life? 100% wool carpets are biodegradable. Wool contains nitrogen and sulphur, which acts as a soil conditioner and thereby improving plant growth. If your carpet is only 80% wool it is in effect only 80% biodegradable. However if the wool cannot be separated from the synthetic element then it is effectively 0% biodegradable.

Wool is a highly complex fibre that has been created by nature over thousands of years. It will never be possible to get the benefits of a wool carpet from a fibre designed by man and made from crude oil. Wool fibre is luxurious and full of character. As long as it is not blended with a synthetic mix it remains biodegradable and provides manufacturers with a sustainable and resilient source of raw material.

Wool carpet, as with any carpeting material requires regular cleaning and maintenance. Regular vacuuming and once yearly professional cleaning along with the use of a barrier mat and having a no shoes policy can go a long way in protecting your investment. For advice on how to get the most out of your wool carpet and enjoy them many years into the future contact Brendan on 0121 472 3349.

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