RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 23/11/00
anything good can come out of recent flooding it could be that it
creates an opportunity for thousands of homeowners to throw out
their carpets. Today, The Healthy Flooring Network (HFN), called
on the Government to make funds available to replace sodden carpets
with healthier smooth flooring. "Replacing carpets with smooth alternatives
could not only make thousands of homes into healthier indoor environments
but certain types of smooth flooring could be less susceptible to
flood damage," said Helen Lynn, spokesperson for HFN and Health
Co-ordinator for WEN,
funding available from Government to help people in refitting their
homes with healthy flooring could also go some way to offsetting
the massive costs of asthma and allergic diseases to the National
Health Service. In Europe alone the combined direct and indirect
costs of allergic disease amount to an estimated 18 billion pounds
July this year HFN launched a campaign to highlight health problems
associated with fitted carpets and PVC flooring. A network of organisations
concerned about health and the environment, HFN focussed on the
increased risks of health problems such as asthma and allergies,
associated with house dust mites, pet allergens and toxic pollutants
accumulating in fitted carpets. A report, "Allergic Diseases and
the Indoor Environment," by Dr. Jill Warner, Senior Lecturer in
Allergy and Immunology at the University of Southampton, for the
first time specifically highlighted allergens in fitted carpets
as potential triggers of allergic disease. "The network called for
homeowners to rethink their flooring and reject fitted carpets for
the sake of their and their children's health.
HFN re-iterates that call in the wake of devastating flooding which
will force thousands of homeowners to think about new kinds of flooring.
"The flooding has been a heartbreaking disaster for everyone affected
by it but out of the misery can at least come something positive.
Thousands will now be thinking about re-flooring their homes and
can choose to go for healthier options than carpets and PVC," said
Helen Lynn, HFN spokesperson and Health Co-ordinator for the Women's
Environmental Network (WEN).
called on insurance companies to help replace carpets. "Where more
flood resistant flooring is required insurance companies should
not hesitate to cover the additional costs associated with tiles
or stone flooring as these will be less likely to need replacing
in the future."
to keep carpets that have become wet could be a greater health risk
since moulds can form which are also a known trigger for symptoms
of asthma and allergy. Says the report "Allergic Diseases and the
Indoor Environment," "the three major sources of indoor allergens
associated with sensitisation and subsequent allergic disease are
house dust mites, pets and moulds."
PVC or vinyl flooring - already a popular alternative to carpets
- is also not a good choice for health. Today HFN warned that PVC
flooring contains chemicals that could affect health. One Nordic
study has linked exposure to the chemicals used to soften PVC to
inflammation of the airways and increased risk of asthma. Hundreds
of cities and communities throughout Europe, the USA and Japan are
restricting the use of PVC in buildings because of environmental
and health concerns.
HFN urges people thinking about re-flooring their homes to avoid
fitted carpets and PVC or vinyl by choosing healthier alternatives
such as lino, tiling, stone floors, and wooden floors. In particular,
choices such as tiles and stone floors are less susceptible to flood
damage, and loose rugs are more easily moved out of the way of flood
more information please contact Helen Lynn - Tel: 0207 481 9004.
which have signed on to the aims of The Healthy Flooring Network
include: The Women's Environmental Network; Action Against Allergy;
National Eczema Society; Pesticide Action Network UK; Friends
of the Earth UK; Food & Chemical Allergy Association; British
Society for Allergy, Environmental and Nutritional Medicine; The
Migraine Action Association; Hyperactive Children's Support Group;
The Association of Environmentally Conscious Building; Dr. Vyvyan
Howard - Infant and Foetal Toxicology University of Liverpool;
Dr Jill Warner - University of Southampton Southampton General
Hospital; Breakspear Hospital; Hazards Magazine; The London Hazards
- 98% of British
households have fitted carpets compared with 16% in France and
2% in Italy.
- Britain has
the world's worst record of asthma and allergies. One in five
children now suffer asthma in the UK. Infants are most vulnerable
since early exposure to allergens from pets and dust mites can
sensitise them, making them more susceptible to asthma and allergies
in later life.
- Up to 100,000
mites can live in one square metre of carpet, and their droppings
build up steadily as the carpet gets older. Pet allergens - the
second most important cause of domestic allergy - stick to carpets
and other soft furnishings and are spread from house to house
on the clothes of pet owners.
has shown that only the removal of carpets was able to cut allergen
loads to 10%, a level which could reduce asthma symptoms as well
as cutting the risk of developing sensitivity. One report showed
that removing fitted carpets reduced the risk of asthma and allergies
by up to 14 times.
- A guide to
healthy flooring alternatives can be found on the HFN website
or obtained from HFN, PO Box 30626, London E1 1TZ.