Dealing with Dogs and Carpet Dust

in Build Green - Air,Build Green - Home,Green Building,Indoor Air

Your Turn: My house is so dusty. The family room carpet is especially hard to keep clean.  My husband covered the air filter with cheesecloth. He says my three dogs might be part of the problem.  – Cheryl, Fayetteville, NC

My Turn: The US Green Building Council cautions that a majority of dust and dirt is tracked inside by your family including your pets. Debris carried in on shoes and paws can contain pesticides, lead dust, herbicides and other hazardous materials.

Moisture is also tracked into your home, leading to mold growth in carpets, especially near the doors. I’d also recommend you consider an air filter switch.

As a rule, green building minimizes wall-to-wall carpet and here’s why.

Carpets and carpet pads absorb odors and moisture. In turn, the fibers and weaving traps all sorts of tiny unhealthy particles and debris that are extremely difficult to keep clean.

Nearly a third of U.S. families keep dogs as pets (and cats are found in about 27 percent).  Your pets are constantly shedding dander. This pet dander is tiny, even microscopic, flecks of skin shed by any animal with fur or feathers. Some people are sensitive to these bits of skin and it can even cause allergic reactions.

Because of their microscopic size and jagged shape, pet dander easily sticks to carpeting, furniture and other fabrics.

The problem is compounded by any rogue fleas, roaches and ants that are carried in or crawl inside. Fleas lay most of their eggs on carpets, and can lay up to 50 eggs per day.

All things considered, try not to have carpet within three feet of any exterior door.

Your first step is to add the largest walk-off mats possible both outside and inside each entryway. Then, encourage everybody to remove their shoes at the door.  Since space is always at a premium consider an attractive combination bench-and-shoe storage area that is compact and tidy.

In addition to the mat, wiping your dogs’ paws can keep the track-in issue manageable.

Even if you don’t have pets, HEPA filters for both your central air conditioning system and vacuum cleaner are worth considering.  It is vitally important that your lungs function optimally.  Our bodies are able to withstand a certain amount of microscopic particles but our bodies are stressed by daily pollution exposure.  HEPA filters trap lighter invisible air particles down to the sub micron size.

Installing a central vacuum system that exhausts directly to the outside is also highly recommended.

The Institute of Medicine says pet allergens may hide in dust and stay for months after the pet is gone.  Keep your pet out of the bedroom of anyone who has asthma or allergies. Teach your pet to stay off the furniture, especially upholstery.

Mats, clean feet, and a good filter will make your home interior much healthier and more comfortable for pets and people.

Click on the blue text for more information on asthma triggers and pet allergens.

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