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 a vacuum cleaner 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 vacuum cleaners?
Our goal in the asthma & allergy friendly® Certification Program is to create a healthier indoor environment for you and your family, as well as to reduce allergens in the home. So we look at all elements of the indoor air environment.
Allergen can accumulate on flooring, both on carpet and on hard flooring. And this can be kicked up into the air when people walk on the flooring. So a vacuum cleaner that can be demonstrated to remove allergen from flooring can be a useful addition to a plan to control triggers in the indoor environment.
In addition, because vacuuming causes room disturbance and agitates any dust and other particles in the floor, there is the risk that vacuuming increases the allergen levels in the air, particularly if the seals in the vacuum cleaner are weak or there is poor filtration in the machine.
We test all of these factors for our certification.
How do we test vacuum cleaners?
- We use a controlled environmental chamber to test vacuum cleaners. This is so we can test how much dust is kicked up into the air when the vacuum cleaner is used.
- We seed a piece of carpet with test dust that contains dust mite allergen and cat allergen, and then vacuum to test how much allergen is removed from the carpet.
- We also test the vacuum cleaner on a hard floor surface with a crevice, to make sure it can remove allergen from crevices.
- And we run tests on the strength of the seals in the vacuum cleaner, the bag receptacle-emptying process, and how it performs when the bag/receptacle is full.
1. Removal of Allergen
We require that the vacuum cleaner can remove over 90% of the allergen in the test carpet, and 90% of the allergen in the hard floor crevice.
2. Particles and Allergen in the air during vacuuming
During vacuuming, we measure the levels of general particles in the air, and allergen particles specifically. We set strict limits for both levels during vacuuming, to ensure low exposure to particles, including allergen.
3. When the vacuum cleaner is fully loaded
We test that the reduction of air power is minimal when the vacuum cleaner is fully loaded. If there is a reduction in air power, we rerun the allergen removal test on carpet, to make sure that the vacuum cleaner can still perform at a high level with a full bag/receptacle.
4. Emptying the vacuum cleaner’s bag/receptacle
One of the easiest ways for dust and allergen to get into the air from vacuuming is when the vacuum bag or receptacle is full and is being emptied. The design of the vacuum cleaner can have a big impact here in minimising the amount of dust and allergen that is released into the room when the bag or receptacle is emptied.
We empty a full bag or receptacle in the environmental chamber, following the operating instructions of the vacuum cleaner, and we measure the particles and allergens that are released when this is done. Particle levels must remain below certification levels.
5. Efficiency of the Seals
If the seals of the vacuum cleaner are weak, allergen can leak from the product during use. We test the seals to make sure that their efficiency is over 99% for micro-particles of 0.3 micrometers, and over 99.99% for particles over 1 micrometer. We also test that emissions from the vacuum cleaner’s motor are under certification limits.
What types of vacuum cleaners do we certify?
We certify many types of vacuum cleaner, including handless cordless vacuum cleaners, bagged vacuum cleaners, and vacuum cleaners with water-based filtration.
Are certified vacuum cleaners safe to use for those with asthma and allergies?
As you can see from the description above, we thoroughly test certified vacuum cleaners to make sure they make a demonstrable difference to the indoor air environment. However, it is not possible to say that a product is completely ‘safe’ for someone with asthma and allergies, particularly if they are very sensitive to dust. If someone in your household has very sensitive airways, it would make sense for them not to be in the room during vacuuming.
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
vacuum cleaner, science, testing, Certification Program, asthma, allergy, allergy insights, healthier home, indoor air quality, indoor environment
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