On average, people spend up to 90% of their time indoors, and indoor air can be two and a half times as polluted as outdoor air. Considering the time that we spend in our beds, which are a traditional home for dust mites, improved bedding can reduce exposure to dust mites and the allergen they produce.
The asthma & allergy friendly® Certification Program seeks to assist people to identify products which will make a genuine difference to their indoor environment. It develops certification standards for relevant categories of products, and all certified products undergo testing to those standards. In this way, the consumer can then make an informed choice about materials like paint, flooring products, etc. that they bring into their home.
In the case of bedding, it is important that bedding items form a sufficient barrier to allergens like dust mite allergen. If there is dust mite allergen on a product, it should be possible to remove this material through washing. Some chemicals used in bedding can cause sensitivities or even allergic reactions. Products should be of suitable quality to enable them to be washed regularly to reduce allergen build-up. Our standard addresses these issues.
Our bedding standards are one part of a suite of 46 standards in the asthma & allergy friendly® Certification Program, covering appliances, bedding products, air filters, building products, and services that can have an impact on the indoor air environment. You can explore the bedding standard in more detail using the menu on the left, or use the links above to explore other standards.
Case Study: Welspun
It’s no secret that consumers are demanding products that are safer and healthier for themselves and their families. But many brands are capitalizing on this by making health claims that are scientifically unfounded. What separates the companies that are delivering on their brand promise from the ones that are not, and how can companies tighten their messaging to cut across the noise?
Here, Courtney Sunna, Allergy Standards (ASL) Vice President of Sales, interviews leaders, brand managers, and marketers who are part of a global movement towards healthier products that are rooted in rigorous science. In this interview, meet Nancy Golden, Senior Vice President Marketing at Welspun USA (click here), who helps build brand equity and consumer trust for one of the world’s largest textile suppliers.
Welspun Interview by Courtney Sunna:
“Courtney: Nancy, in what ways does Welspun utilize third-party Certification Marks and testing programs to validate claims?
Nancy: Our home textiles carry the Made in Green by Oeko-Tex® label which certifies that the products do not contain any harmful substances such as chemicals which can pose health risks and certifies that our facilities are environmentally safe. We are an environmentally aware company. Welspun organic home textiles have GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certification which requires the evaluation of our entire supply chain based on stringent ecological and social requirements.
Select Welspun sleep systems carry asthma & allergy friendly® Certification, administered by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America and Allergy Standards Ltd., to indicate that they meet strict standards for controlling allergens and, as such, are well suited for those with asthma and allergies.
We meet other industry specific standards, such as Egyptian Gold from the Egyptian Cotton Association which assures our products are made from this luxury fiber. We have actually created our own certification program for our premium fibers of Egyptian, Supima, Australian and Organic cotton called Wel-Trak®. We can certify from seed to shelf that the fibers are authentic. We work closely with a third-party certification house, Oritain, which can create digital fingerprints of the actual plant seeds. Oritain is a highly respected partner of ours and they provide complete traceability that’s allows consumers to take comfort in the integrity of Oritain certified products.
Courtney: Do you feel that consumers are more skeptical about words such as ‘hypoallergenic’ and ‘natural’ and are choosing healthy products more carefully?
Nancy: The terms hypoallergenic and natural are loosely defined across all product categories and, therefore, have lost credibility with consumers. We conducted a social media listening study of 4.5 million consumers and found that health and wellness is top of mind for textile shoppers, as such we made the strategic decision to create anti-allergen products without the use of chemicals. Understanding that many consumers in this category are concerned about the credibility of anti-allergen claims, we partnered with asthma & allergy friendly® to give consumers peace of mind and confidence in their choice.
“We conducted a social media listening study of 4.5 million consumers and found that health and wellness is top of mind for textile shoppers.”
Courtney: What are some corporate social responsibility goals that Welspun has set and how do you plan to achieve them in the coming years? How does this impact your global strategy?
Nancy: Sustainability, the empowerment of women, education, health and the environment are the focus of our community efforts at Welspun. At Welspun we believe that we need to be agents of change while we grow our business and support the communities around us.
Our campus in India features not only state-of-the-art zero-discharge facilities, but we have also built a complete eco-system for our employees, their families and the surrounding communities. We have an ever-growing number of smart villages, with wifi, schools, health and child care, vocational training, career guidance and adult literacy programs. In our Anjar location, we have also built a water treatment plant that allows us to not only be completely self-sufficient, but to also provide potable water to all our neighboring communities.
We also have a tree plantation –converting the arid, desert environment to a lush, fertile oasis.
We secure the future by empowering women, so they can sustain themselves and move toward growth and prosperity. Vocational centers have been established to teach women of the villages how to stitch, sew and embroider, allowing them the opportunity to generate income and provide for their family. We are a recognized woman owned company by WEConnect.
Beyond our corporate drive to give back to our communities, we acknowledge that consumer needs are changing so we’ve looked to innovate in the areas of organic and sustainable textiles.
Courtney: What has your consumer research taught you about the demand for healthier products?
Nancy: Our research shows that Millennials strive to live a healthier lifestyle which includes eating right, getting restful sleep and being active. As this group ages and has more disposable income, there is more and more focus on products that address these needs. Welspun products are about a healthier, more restful sleep. That is what makes the asthma & allergy friendly® Certification so important in our world of mattress pads, comforters, pillows and sheets. If you sleep more soundly you will wake up ready to face the day. Additionally, with the rise of allergens in our environment, moms are searching for the right product for their children. Everyone wants to sleep healthy.
“Welspun products are about a healthier, more restful sleep. That is what makes the asthma & allergy friendly® Certification so important in our world of mattress pads, comforters, pillows and sheets.”
Courtney: How do you communicate all of your initiatives to your stakeholders, consumers, and retailers?
Nancy: Welspun communicates our certifications on our packages and on all our communications which include print and banner advertising among others. We work closely with our retail partners to help them communicate our certifications and their importance to consumers. Our Wel-Trak™ certification program was developed in house to offer complete supply chain transparency from farm to shelf for all our cotton products so that retailers and consumers alike can trust that the cotton that they are buying is pure.
Courtney: How did you decide to create an asthma & allergy friendly® offering with a large retail chain, JCPenney?
Nancy:We are excited to kick this program off with a mattress pad at JCPenney that launched in April. JCPenney has been a great partner of ours for many years. Prior to launching this program, we conducted numerous consumer usage studies, asking men and women across the country to test our asthma & allergy friendly® certified bedding. We have received positive feedback about the breathability of the fabric as well as the comfort and durability.
Courtney: How is this product unique?
Nancy: Our patented Nano Core™ bedding system has recently become Certified asthma & allergy friendly® and we are working on new product launches.
We are excited about our new JCPenney Home asthma & allergy friendly® Mattress Pad, available now in select JCPenney stores and at JCPenney.com. The mattress pad is 300 thread count and 100% cotton. It offers benefits those affected by asthma and allergy without the use of chemicals, which is rare in the category.”
ABOUT WELSPUN GLOBAL BRANDS LTD.
Welspun Global Brands Ltd. (WGBL), a subsidiary of Welspun India Ltd., is one of the world’s largest textile manufacturers. With a focus on innovation and customer centricity, the company has a wide portfolio of products sold in over 50 countries. The company is at the forefront of latest global trends in home fashion with in-house design studios in New York, London and Mumbai. In addition to the retail business, WGBL is experiencing growth in the luxury hospitality segment. WGBL is constantly ideating and evolving to become a leading omni-channel player. Today, WGBL is the preferred choice for home textiles internationally and is a trusted partner to over half of the top 30 retailers in the world.
About The asthma & allergy friendly® Certification Program
The asthma & allergy friendly® Certification Program is a unique, groundbreaking collaboration between the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America and Allergy Standards Limited. The program tests and certifies products to prove their suitability for people with asthma and allergies. The program works with retailers and manufacturers to offer consumers products for a #healthierhome. CERTIFIED products include air cleaners, dehumidifiers, paints, bedding, vacuum cleaners, washing machines, stuffed toys, cleaning services and more. Visit aafa.org/certified for more information.
Welspun, interview, home, textiles, bedding, asthma & allergy friendly®, third party Certification Mark, science, healthier products, allergy insights, healthier home, indoor air quality, healthier lifestyle
JCPenney Mattress Pad by Welspun, which is Certified asthma & allergy friendly®, click here to read the article.
Welspun Introduces Wel-Trak™ a Revolutionary, Patented, End-to-End Traceability Solution, click here to read the press release.
Related Internal Links
ASP-02 Bedding Suite Certification Standard
Bedding products that are CERTIFIED asthma & allergy friendly® are tested to the relevant standard in the ASP:02 Bedding suite of standards.
These Certification Standards utilize an algorithm of proprietary and recognized scientific techniques to assess bedding for likely exposure to allergenic and irritant materials, both at the time of purchase and thereafter when in use. Product samples that pass certification testing are granted a certificate stating that they meet the requirements for the asthma & allergy friendly® ASP:02-XX Certification Standard.
Allergy Standards Limited (ASL) subjects the bedding to both physical and chemical testing to ensure that the bedding does not have properties that is likely to irritate either asthma or allergy symptoms in susceptible people.
Part 1: The product should form an effective barrier to the passage of allergen
Post 18 Washes*
Areas with seams
House dust mite allergen (Der p 1)
|Cat allergen (Fel d 1)||
*12 washings in case of larger bedding items
Part 2: Breathability of the fabric
Pass fail criteria
Water vapour resistance
Part 3: Passive Transfer studies and eradication of allergen
Removal of passive accumulated allergen during real time climate-controlled chamber studies:
- Washing in a domestic washing machine after infestation must achieve ≥90% reduction in the level of house dust mite allergen, when measurable, from the surface of the bedding item
- Washing instructions are established based upon the frequency of washing required to maintain surface allergen levels below 2μg per gram or per m2
Any recoverable allergen from the inner surface of the ticking fabric must be <10% of the background level
Part 4: Evaluation of product quality and construction
Pass fail criteria
Product integrity and construction must withstand the recommended eradication technique at the indicated frequency. Pillows are washed and tumble dried at 40ºC, 18 times (ISO 6330 6A) and then visually assessed.
Before and after the recommended repeated domestic washing procedures, fabrics must meet or exceed the most stringent applicable international legal restrictions/directive standards for quality and safety.
Part 5: Evaluation of the presence of allergenic, irritant, banned or restricted chemicals
Pass fail criteria
Must not contain chemicals known to trigger allergenic or irritant responses when present above Certification levels.
Fabrics must meet or exceed the most stringent applicable international legal restrictions/directive standards for allergenic and irritant chemicals.
Specific bedding items (i.e. Pillows filled with Feather & Down) may require extra testing
All CERTIFIED asthma & allergy friendly® pillows are associated with a unique Certification code.
Why and how we certify bedding – a Q&A
There is ever-increasing awareness of the chemicals we come into contact with every day, particularly if you or a member of your family has asthma or allergies. We created the asthma & allergy friendly® Certification Program to help you improve your indoor environment by identifying products and services that can help to reduce allergens and create a healthier home environment.
But what is it that makes some bedding better for the indoor environment than others, and where do we draw the line to decide to certify bedding as asthma & allergy friendly®? We hope that the questions below will clarify this. Let us know if you have more questions!
Why do we certify bedding?
- Help people create a healthier indoor environment and reduce allergens in the home
Our goal in the asthma & allergy friendly® Certification Program is to create a healthier indoor environment for you and your family, and so we look at all elements of the indoor air environment.
The most common allergen found in bedding comes from dust mites, which are tiny bugs that live in the dust in mattresses, pillows, carpets, beddings, soft toys, etc.
Dust mite allergen can pass through some fabrics, and this can cause an allergic reaction. It is important that dust mites and their allergen can be removed from products by washing, and it is also important that the product can withstand regular washing.
Some bedding can contain chemicals that can irritate skin.
What kind of bedding do we certify?
We certify a whole range of bedding products: pillows, comforters, mattress pads, mattress and pillow protectors, sheets and pillowcases, comforter covers, mattresses, infant mattresses, waterproof mattress and pillow protectors, and feather and down pillows.
What do we look for in bedding?
We look at four areas when we test bedding.
- Allergen Barrier
- Removal by Washing
- Quality of the Product
- Chemicals and VOCs
1. Allergen Barrier
The first is whether the fabric on the outside of the product can stop dust mites and dust mite allergen from passing through to make contact with your skin. We pull dust across the fabric in a laboratory setting, and measure how much of the dust mite allergen gets through the fabric. We set a strict limit for this, to reduce exposure. Sometimes, the seams on products can be an easier way for dust mites to escape. If a product has seams or if it has a zipper, we run the same test on the seams and zipper, to make sure the product really is a barrier to allergen.
2. Removal by Washing
The second is to make sure that any allergen on the bedding products are really removed by washing. We place the product in a climate-controlled chamber, and we lay it beside other bedding products that already have dust mites in them. This is so that the dust mites will move across to the new bedding product, in a way that mimics what happens in your bedroom. We leave it there for six weeks, and then we wash it, and we test it afterwards to make sure that the allergen has been removed.
3. Quality of the Product
Dust mites are found in all soft furnishings, and so if you are sensitive to them, it’s important to wash your bedding, toys etc, regularly. The quality of products needs to allow for regular washing, without becoming lumpy or misshapen. We wash the products 18 times (12 times for larger items like comforters), to make sure that they maintain their shape and appearance.
4. Chemicals and VOCs
Various chemicals can be used when bedding is being made. We test all the materials in the bedding product for chemicals such as azo dyes, pesticides, allergens and irritants, to make sure that any chemicals that are known to be irritants to the skin are either not present, or are present at such a low level that they are unlikely to cause a problem.
Are there VOCs in bedding?
VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) are chemical compounds that easily become vapours or gases. When you can small paints, adhesives, new furniture, and even sometimes new bedding, these smells are caused by VOCs being released. We make sure that any VOC emissions from the bedding products are extremely low.
Why do we certify products containing feather and down?
In the past, there was a general opinion that allergy to feathers was relatively common. However, research has established that this kind of allergy is quite rare. It is more common for people to be sensitive to dust mites on feathers, or to particular proteins that were produced by the bird before the feather was plucked.
However, the regulation in the feather and down industry now means that any feathers used in bedding are intensively cleaned, resulting in near removal of these allergens.
When we test feather and down products, we run all of the tests that are outlined above. In addition, we do particular tests for proteins and mites that can cause allergic reactions to feathers, and we also test to make sure that there is no mould or bacteria present.
Is a sheet a sufficient allergen barrier?
Unfortunately, no. We test and certify sheets, because they can be a useful part of allergen control in bedding, and because they are in direct contact with the skin. However, we would recommend also using a certified mattress protector.
What else do we certify?
We have 46 different asthma & allergy friendly® certification standards for products and services, addressing all areas of the indoor air environment. Some of these relate to products which remove allergens and dust from the indoor environment, like vacuum cleaners, air cleaners, dehumidifiers, and washing machines. Some of them relate to products where it is important not to provide an easy home for allergens and that it is possible to remove allergen from them – like bedding, toys, and flooring. And some of them relate to household products that should make as little an impact on the indoor environment as possible – like flooring and paint.
You can find out which products are certified asthma & allergy friendly® and read more here: www.asthmaandallergyfriendly.com
Lifestyle Article: Health and Wellbeing in the bedroom
It’s time to rethink the bedroom. We spend a third of our entire life there, the main purpose of which is to sleep, and so restore, revive and rejuvenate our bodies and minds. Good sleep is vital to our quality of life, essential to our health and wellbeing. So why haven’t we prioritized the environment in which we sleep?
These are some things we have learned in the recent past:
- An adult should get 7-9 hours of good quality sleep every night. A teenager should get 8-10 hours, a child 9-11, an infant 12-15 hours.
- Short sleep duration is linked with a drastically increased risk of weight gain and obesity, in both adults and children.Poor sleep affects the hormones that regulate our appetiteand those who get adequate sleep tend to eat fewer calories than those who don’
- Good sleep can maximize problem-solving skills and enhance memory. Alternately, poor sleep has been shown to impair brain function and make us irritable and forgetful.
- Sleeping less than 7–8 hours per night is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Sleep deprivation can cause prediabetes in healthy adults in a matter of days. A strong link has been shown between short sleep duration and type 2 diabetes.
- Poor sleeping patterns are strongly linked to depression. Inadequate sleep can affect your social skills and ability to interpret others’ emotional expressions.
- Getting at least eight hours of sleep can improve your immune function and help fight the common cold.
Given these stark realities, surely it’s a no brainer- we need to rethink the bedroom.
Sleep hygiene is a medical term, first used in the 1930s, and is concerned mainly with creating an environment that is conducive to a good night’s sleep. It maintains that a regular sleeping routine combined with avoidance of certain practices that can wreak havoc on our sleep can work wonders in improving what is one of the most important tasks in our lives.
So, what is an environment conducive to sleep? Cool, dark, comfortable, and with healthy air is a good start. If you are lucky enough to be thinking of redecorating now, then you have a huge opportunity to create for yourself a wonderful, healthy, sleeping pod that will certainly improve your quality of life.
Firstly, consider the paint. Traditional paints often contain noxious chemicals which are irritants to our lungs and linked with all sorts of nasty diseases. Luckily, now paint tins are well-labelled and informative. A few moments checking the tin for information is well worth it. Now might be also the best time to check for lung damaging mold on the walls and treat it before applying your paint.
Choosing a mattress with health and wellbeing in mind means considering other factors other than comfort. What material is it made of? Have the manufacturers used harmful chemicals in the process? Is it going to emit harmful gases?
It is always a good idea to buy mattress encasings and this can be done whether you are buying a new mattress or not. Again, check the labelling – the purpose of the encasings is to prevent dust mite travelling through them, so they need to be manufactured appropriately. A typical used mattress can have up to 10 million dust mites in it. Dust mite love mattresses as they are warm, moist (from our bodies) and we provide them with delicious food in the form of our skin cells. Lovely.
The house dust mite is the most common trigger of indoor allergies, leading to long-term poor quality sleep. If you suffer from itchy skin, rashes, stuffy nose, wheeze or sore eyes, these symptoms can be relieved dramatically simply by using mattress encasings. And don’t forget a pillow encasing – 10% of the weight of a two-year-old pillow can be composed of dead mites and their droppings.
When it comes to considering the tiny but pesky dust mite elsewhere in the bedroom, a good strategy is to try and make the room and its contents easy to clean. Window drapes, throws, scatter cushions, multiple small ornaments, carpets may be your choice in terms of visuals but really you are creating a haven for dust mite.
Blinds for the windows are easily wiped clean of dust with a moist cloth and provide the all-important darkness that is such an important part of sleep hygiene. If your collection of porcelain pigs or unusual seashells decorates a surface, you have set yourself up for a hard time. Surfaces and ornaments need to be wiped down twice a week to keep dust at bay. Are you really going to pick up and clean each individual item twice a week? Much better to store them in a pretty box and reserve surfaces for larger items. This also creates a space that gives the impression of serenity rather than a busy, cluttered environment. In kids’ rooms, plush toys should be stored away too.
It’s always tempting to buy the best bargain but when it comes to bedroom furniture it may be a no-no for our wellbeing. Cheaply produced furniture tends to off gas more, releasing fumes into your sleeping sanctuary and potentially ruining your night’s sleep. Choose your furniture carefully and maybe even think outside the box – antique or used pieces can be beautiful, environmentally friendly and non-irritant to our precious lungs.
We all have experienced the frustration and discomfort of trying to sleep in a room that is too hot or too cold. The ideal temperature for sleeping is between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit so keep your room cool. Ideally this simply involves opening a window which has the added benefit of airing the room with clean air – just like our grandmothers did. If a polluted urban environment or extreme weather doesn’t allow this then it might be worth considering an air purifier, especially if you suffer from asthma or allergies.
To maintain the bedroom’s ideal environment, we have to put some work in. It should be vacuumed twice a week to keep it dust free and to remove as much pollutants as possible from the air. This is best done with a vacuum cleaner fitted with a HEPA filter, which ensures that tiny but lethal pollutants aren’t just regurgitated back into the room. Choose cleaning products with care – avoid the super strength products that tend to be a source of VOCs thus contributing to poor air. Wipe down surfaces with a damp cloth twice a week to remove dust. Bedding must be washed once a week.
And now that you have created your ideal sleeping space? Get yourself an evening routine and stick to it, don’t eat too late at night, avoid caffeine in the latter part of the day, turn off all phones, tablets and laptops. Now lie down, pick up a book and enjoy the reward of a deep and restoring full night’s sleep.
About Dr. Anna O’Donovan – Medical & Lifestyle Author
Anna is a mum of three children, one with allergies, and she suffers from allergies and asthma herself. She is a qualified doctor and worked as a General Practitioner and as a dentist for a number of years. She is also an award winning author.
Scientific Article: Is your bedroom causing you health issues?
People spend up to 90% of their life indoors and 30% of this may be in the bedroom1. Sleeping, reading or relaxing, the bedroom is a key area to address in order to achieve a healthy home living environment. The promotion of good sleep patterns has been established as a critical determinant of health2and the quality of the indoor air environment can significantly impact the health of an individual. Nicotine, polycyclic hydrocarbons, allergens and phthalates have all been measured in indoor environments3, and it has been shown that environmental conditions within the home can also exacerbate asthmatic children’s symptoms4.
There are a range of categories that should be considered in terms of the general indoor environment (eg paint and flooring) and there are specific characteristics of bedrooms (eg plush toys and bedding) that can make them more susceptible to some contaminants.
Paint and Flooring
Paint and flooring can have an impact in your bedroom as well as throughout your home. Paint can contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), these are chemicals that are emitted from liquid and solid materials, and in particular are associated with oil based paints5. VOCs can irritate the throat and lungs6and in the past decade significant steps have been taken to reduce and remove the amount of VOCs used in paint. While VOCs are the main health concern in paints for those suffering from asthma, there are a range of other chemicals in paints that may pose health concerns in general7. Paint products should be selected carefully, taking due consideration of any chemical sensitivities.
Flooring covers a wide range of products, and your selection can have a significant impact on your indoor air quality. Positive effects of flooring include trapping dust and dirt, as well as having easy cleaning surfaces. Negative effects are predominantly based on the chemicals used in the manufacture of the flooring, or of the adhesive used to secure the flooring (through emission of VOCs).
Linoleum or laminate wood flooring have been recommended for a long time for those suffering from asthma and allergies, due mainly to their low ability to retain allergens8, and their ease of cleaning. While this may be beneficial for some sufferers, it is not the whole story. While carpet can retain allergen, it can also act as a sink for allergens. Where laminate floors may allow dust and allergen to float around, the carpet traps the allergen within the pile of the carpet9,10. Effective cleaning, for both these types of surfaces, is the key.
Plush toys and bedding can have a more specific impact in the bedroom as they are mostly encountered in this environment. Toys (predominantly plush toys) can act as a significant reservoir of dust mites, as well as being a potential source of VOCs. The stuffing of plush toys makes them an ideal breeding ground for dust mites and so the key part of a control plan is to minimise build-up of the dust mites; the most effective way to do this is through regular washing.
Bedding is a crucial element to address within the bedroom environment. Young children can spend more than 12 hours a day in a bed and up to 8 hours a day as they grow older11. The main characteristics to consider are chemicals that may act as airway irritants or skin sensitizers, and dust mites that may accumulate in the mattress, pillows and comforters.
To aid in maintaining a healthy home environment, bedding products should be selected that have been tested to ensure that they do not contain trigger chemicals above biologically relevant levels. Use of these chemicals is to impart some type of functionality to the product, but may have detrimental side effects12,13. While most reputable suppliers will engage in safety testing, the global supply chain means that products can enter the supply chain that may not be as safe as others.
Controlling exposure to allergens is a key aspect of a healthy home environment. Particularly in the bedroom environment, high levels of dust mites can be found in dust from mattresses, pillows, carpets, upholstered furniture, bed covers, clothes and soft toys14. An allergic response to the presence of dust mites can be to the intact live dust mite, or to their body parts. Protection therefore must be effective against active transport (the intact dust mite travelling to different parts of the bed) and passive transport (body parts of the dust mite being expelled throughout the bedding through disturbance of the bedding).
Effective bedding encasings are a well established way to protect sensitive individuals from exposure to dust mite allergen and can be applied to mattresses, comforters and pillows15,16. House dust mite allergen can be as small as 10 microns and so preventing passage of these minute particles through textile fabrics can be challenging (a full stop is about 400 micron). A wide range of bedding from a variety of suppliers is available to address this challenge but it is important to consider the product characteristics when purchasing – A plastic bag will not let any particles through, but it also won’t be very comfortable to sleep on!
Encasements for pillows, mattresses and comforters will have some kind of fastener, like a zipper, and passage of allergen through these parts of the product must also be tested and proven to prevent allergen passage. Similarly to plush toys, bedding items should be of sufficient quality to be washed routinely at a temperature high enough to kill any dust mites (130°F), without losing their product integrity. This consistent product integrity refers to both the conformity of the product in terms of a pillow, but also for seam and zipper integrity, to prevent passage of allergens.
Determining what products are more appropriate for a healthy home environment is difficult – how do you know if a bedding encasing has a pore size small enough to prevent allergen passage, and can you be confident in this performance?
There are a number of certification programs that can be used to compare flooring, paints, cleaning products, etc to demonstrate that they emit less VOCs or use more ‘friendly’ chemicals (Oeko Tex, ECARF, Allergy UK, Greenguard). Certification of products, such as bedding and plush toys to demonstrate their performance in terms of allergen control is however a more specialised area.
Allergy Standards Limited (ASL) established a certification program in 2006 to address exactly these specialised challenges. The asthma and allergy friendly® Certification Program is operated by ASL in collaboration with the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), Asthma Canada (AC) and is also operated internationally through a global certification mark. A founding ethos for the Program was in response to consumer confusion over what products would be suitable for those suffering from asthma and allergies. ASL only certify products that have undergone physical testing at their, or their partners’ accredited testing laboratories, according to specific testing standards. These standards are developed and reviewed by external independent scientific experts at either AAFA or ASC and are only adopted following their approval. In this way, ASL maintain an independent and robust certification program. The asthma and allergy friendly® Certification Program maintains a focus on consumer products that will have a direct benefit to those suffering from asthma and allergies, and has a focus on bedding products, as well as other consumer products that may contribute to a healthy home environment.
A healthy home environment is substantially dependent on the items that are introduced to it. In order to ensure the most beneficial environment, these items should be carefully selected based on all available information. Reliable and trustworthy third party certification programs are an essential part of this decision making process.
About the author
Thanks to Dr. Tim Yeomans for this insightful article.
Dr. Tim Yeomans is the Centre Manager for Shannon Applied Biotechnology Centre, a collaboration between two third level colleges in Ireland. Tim holds a PhD in Microbiology and postgraduate qualifications in Technology Commercialisation and Innovation Management. Tim has worked in research and development for 20 years, both in industry and academia. In his role in Shannon ABC, Tim is responsible for the scientific direction of the Centre, intellectual property management and business and technology development.
chemicals, paint, VOC, healthier, allergen, asthma, allergy, certification, asthma & allergy friendly
- National Asthma Council Australia online. Accessed June 2018
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- Environmental Protection Agency online. Accessed June 2018
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- Wieslander, G., Norbäck, D., Björnsson, E., Janson, C., & Boman, G. (1997). Asthma and the indoor environment: The significance of emission of formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds from newly painted indoor surfaces. International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, 69(2), 115–124.
- Norback, D., Bjornsson, E., Janson, C., Widstrom, J., & Boman, G. (1995). Asthmatic Symptoms and Volatile Organic-Compounds, Formaldehyde, and Carbon-Dioxide in Dwellings. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 52(6), 388–395
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). 1999. Toxicological Profile for Formaldehyde. Addendum to the Profile for Formaldehyde. 2010. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Public Health and Human Services, Public Health Service
- US EPA acetaldehyde Hazard summary online
- Sánchez-Toril, F & Prieto, L & Peris, R & Perez, JA & Millan, Monica & Marín, J. (2000). Differences in airway responsiveness to acetaldehyde and methacholine in asthma and chronic bronchitis. The European respiratory journal : official journal of the European Society for Clinical Respiratory Physiology. 15. 260-5. 10.1034/j.1399-3003.2000.15b07.x. .
- Agocs, M. M., Etzel, R. A., Parrish, R. G., Paschal, D. C., Campagna, P. R., Cohen, D. S., … Hesse, J. L. (1990). Mercury Exposure from Interior Latex Paint. New England Journal of Medicine, 323(16), 1096–1101.
- Choi, H, Schmidbauer, Sundell, J, Hasselgren, M, Spengler, J and Bornehag, CG. Common Household Chemicals and the Allergy Risks in Pre-School Age Children. 2010 PLoS ONE 5(10): e13423. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0013423
- European Commission online. Accessed June 2018.
- California Department of Public Health online . Accessed June 2018.
- Green Seal online. Accessed June 2018.
- Greenguard online. Accessed June 2018.
- Scientific Certification Services online. Accessed June 2018.
- Allergy Standards Ltd online. Accessed June 2018.
Related Internal Links
|Certification Name||asthma & allergy friendly®||OEKO-TEX STANDARD 100®||Made Safe®||Global Organic Textile Standard||Allergy UK|
Prevent passage of house dust mite allergen and cat allergen, permeability to air, water vapor resistance
|Eradication of allergen
Pillows are infested with allergens, washed and allergens reduction is assessed
|Quality & Construction
Simulation of domestic use
Wash test, rubbing fastness dry/wet, perspiration fastness, saliva fastness,
|Chemical and VOCs assessment
Evaluation for presence of allergenic and irritant chemicals, including Volatile Organic Compounds
Certifications are mapped against asthma & allergy friendly® but may include other criteria
|ASL may require special care instructions to be added to the label in order to achieve these levels and be certified||Packing instructions||Bioaccumulation, envireonmental persistance, general toxicity, aquatic toxicity, ecosystem toxicity||Organic status of the materials used in the fabrication or processing of the fiber or textile, impact on environment, supply chain, manufacturing, social criteria||
23 June 2020
Dr. John Ryan, Chief Strategy Officer at Allergy Standards in Archetech magazine discusses the value of third party certification and the responsibility on those in the building and design industry to prioritise health and wellbeingREAD MORE
11 May 2020
It is a common statistic when talking about the quality of indoor air, that we spend approximately 90% of our time indoors. The origin of that statistic was a study by the US Environmental Protection Agency back in 19891. The importance of this is the nature of the contained environment of the home; in the move towards greater environmental sustainability, homes have become more energy efficient and more tightly sealed. While this provides a better environmental impact, it also means that the air in the home does not become renewed through passage of fresh air.READ MORE
24 April 2020
Bloomberg article discusses the future of cars and car cabin air purifiers, citing Mercedes Benz as the first car manufacturers to install CERTIFIED asthma & allergy friendly® car cabin filters.READ MORE
15 April 2020
NBC News describes the differences between air filters, air cleaners and air purifiers and the benefits of having one in your home. The Dyson air purifier recommended in the article is CERTIFIED asthma & allergy friendly®READ MORE
9 April 2020
John McKeon, MD, CEO of Allergy Standards, talks to Well+Good about good indoor air quality and its importance as part of a healthy home. Two of the three best air purifiers chosen by the author are CERTIFIED by Allergy Standards.READ MORE
5 March 2020
A recent study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal has shown an association between use of household cleaning products in the first few months of a child’s life and risk of childhood wheeze and asthma at age 3. Basically the study is saying that the more often we use cleaning products in our homes when our kids are small, the more likely our children will have a wheeze or asthma laterREAD MORE
2 March 2020
The global textile sector is enormous; in 2018 the value of the US textile sector was $78 billion and employed over 550,000 workers1. In 2017 China produced 79 billion metres of cloth2; that’s enough to go to the moon and back 100 times! Textiles and clothes are a fundamental part of our everyday life however they also provide an excellent material for micro-organisms to grow on. Measures to prevent microbial growth on textiles and fabrics dates back to Egyptian times when mummy wraps were preserved using herbs and spices3. Since then bamboo has been used in housing structures and design in China and in World War II a range of chemicals were used to impart antimicrobial activity to tents, tarpaulins and truck covers4. Prevention of microbial attack is essential for durability of the textile, in addition to potential use in prevention of transmission of disease.READ MORE
20 February 2020
Allergy Standards is now a member of the Consumer Technology Association – ‘where the people, policies and insights of innovation come together’READ MORE
19 February 2020
Beijing’s air quality hovers around the ‘unhealthy’ category for much of the year. The perfect storm of millions of cars, noxious fumes from factories and coal powered industry combines with the city’s geography : Beijing is built on a flat landscape and surrounded by mountains so if there is no wind to blow away the smog, it hangs over the city like a shroudREAD MORE