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.
Indoor Air Quality is of particular concern for those affected by asthma and allergies, but a healthier home is of broader benefit to all.
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 insulation, flooring products, etc. that they bring into their home.
In the case of washing machines, customers want to be confident that their washing machine can remove allergens such as dust mite allergen and cat allergen. Once items are washed, if the dust mites have not been killed by the washing process, dust mite allergen can begin to accumulate again. Our standard addresses these issues.
Our washing machine standard is one 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 vacuum cleaner standard in more detail using the menu on the left, or use the links above to explore other standards.
Case Study: LG
The Business Challenge
LG was launching a its first washing machine based on TrueSteam® technology. The machine is effective not only in reducing allergens but in saving energy and water. The challenge was how to successfully launch a new product in a competitive marketplace during a tough economic period.
In 2008, LG turned to the independent asthma & allergy friendly® Certification Program for its stringent standards and the reputation of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) for patient advocacy.
They wanted to appeal to a growing number of consumers who were purchasing products with allergen reduction features and environmental control. Not only are consumers increasingly confused by unproven allergy based claims on home appliances but are willing to seek out products with validated scientific performance claims.
48% of respondents of the National Harris Interactive Survey with asthma and allergies feel the asthma & allergy friendly® Certification Mark is a ‘better choice’ for families. Households with children are more likely to purchase products displaying Bert’s Mark and believe it indicates ‘higher quality’ products.
They were able to use their certification to provide peace of mind for consumers and build trust in the product and the brand.
They integrated the testing results and scientific research expertise of Allergy Standards Ltd (ASL) into the brand’s core features and general messaging.
LG capitalized on ASL’s market data and consumer sentiment with regard to allergies and a healthy home to develop their go to market strategy, collateral and tactics. By collaborating with ASL they developed relevant, rich, educational content to engage customers on healthy indoor living issues and leverage credible platforms on which to launch their product including a media launch event in New York with keynote scientific speakers provided by the program.
They incorporated key messaging into their advertising and in-store collateral, press releases, newsletters and articles, website, blogs, social media and launch events.
LG is the number one front loading washing machine brand in the USA and their targeted marketing efforts have allowed them to achieve growth in their target sector in a tough economic period. They have deepened customer engagement and feedback with many appearances on blogs, chat rooms and forums. They continue to benefit from endorsement from AAFA and the huge volumes of concerned consumers who use their resources.
To date, LG has certified 11 different models of washing machines as asthma & allergy friendly® and has entered into a long term agreement with the Certification Program. Together with AAFA and retail partners such as the Home Depot they continue to inform and empower consumers about environmental control and allergen reduction with educational content about healthy homes, co-branded in-store materials and magazines. LG continue to deliver powerful educational material to their target audience, deepening customer engagement and increasing their authority on the blogosphere and social media. They continue to leverage not for profit association with AAFA, strengthening their leadership position and building trust with their audience.
Standard Abstract 06-01: Washing Machines
Washing Machine that are certified asthma & allergy friendly® are tested to the ASP:06-01 Washing Machine Certification Standard.
The Certification Standard utilizes an algorithm of proprietary and recognized scientific techniques to assess Washing Machines for their ability to reduce allergenic and irritant materials during domestic laundering. Submitted washing machine models that pass certification testing are granted a certificate stating that the particular washing machine meets the requirements for the asthma & allergy friendly® ASP-06:01/101 Certification Standard.
Allergy Standards Ltd (ASL) subjects the washing machine to physical testing to ensure that it reduces total allergen burden, while minimising any increase in airborne allergen levels.
Part 1: Removal of allergen containing test dust from carpet and airborne allergen levels during vacuuming
Demonstrable for more than one allergen, Bio-allergen levels in test items reduced following washing
Part 2: Thermal capability
Achieve a washing temperature
Der p 1 (dust mite) antigen resurgence over a four-week incubation period post-washing in test items previously infested with live house dust mite (in % of the control)
Part 3: Warranty
The Certification of washing machines as asthma & allergy friendly® is subject to manufacturer’s warranty period for washing machines.
Part 4: Ozone levels
Washing capability must be achieved without exposure above 0.1mg/m3indoor ozone by-product.
All CERTIFIED asthma & allergy friendly® paints are associated with a unique Certification code.
Why and how we certify washing machines – a Q&A
There is ever-increasing awareness of the chemicals and allergens 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 washing machines better for the indoor environment than others, and where do we draw the line to decide to certify a washing machine as asthma & allergy friendly®? We hope that the questions below will clarify this. Let us know if you have more questions!
Why do you certify washing machine?
- 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, as well as to reduce allergens in the home. So we look at all elements of the indoor air environment.
The most common allergen found in bedding and clothing comes from dust mites, which are tiny bugs that live in the dust in mattresses, pillows, carpets, beddings, soft toys, etc. Dust mites feed on skin cells that you shed while wearing clothes or using bedding, and it is their waste which we refer to as dust mite allergen. It is usually the waste that causes an allergic reaction, and not the dust mites themselves. However, reducing the level of dust mites is an excellent way of reducing dust mite allergen!
Dust mite allergen can accumulate over time, and so it is important that dust mites and their allergen can be removed from products by washing. Dust mite allergen is soluble, and so it is possible to remove it by washing at relatively low temperatures. But a high temperature is needed to be able to kill dust mites, and not many washing machines can reach this temperature.
As with all electrical appliances, it is possible that washing machines can product ozone as a by-product. This can have a negative impact on the respiratory system.
What do you look for in washing machines?
We look at three areas when we test a washing machine.
- Removal of Allergen
- Removal of Dust Mites
- Temperature of the Washing Machine
1. Removal of Allergen
The first is to test whether the washing machine can remove allergen that is in clothing. We add live dust mites and cat hair to sweaters and soft toys, and we put them in a chamber for seven days so the dust mites can produce allergen. Then we remove the items: we test half of them for the levels of dust mite allergen and cat allergen. We wash the other half in the washing machine and test them afterwards for dust mite allergen and cat allergen levels. We compare the results of the two groups of items; we require that there is over 95% less allergen on the items that have been washed.
2. Removal of Dust Mites
We take two more groups of sweaters and soft toys, and add live dust mites and cat allergen to them. We put them in separate chambers for 35 days, and make sure that there is a source of food for any dust mites. After seven days, we wash one group of items in the washing machine. Then we leave them for another 28 days. Any dust mites that survived the washing machine will have time to grow and product allergen. At the end of the 35 days we test both groups of items for dust mite allergen and cat allergen. We compare the results of the two groups of items; we require that there is 90% less allergen on the items that were washed. This will show that the dust mites themselves were removed by washing.
3. Temperature of the Washing Machine
To kill dust mites, it is necessary to wash items at a suitably high temperature. We make sure that certified washing machines can reach a temperature of 55°Celsius (131° Fahrenheit) and maintain it for 15 minutes.
Some appliances can produce ozone as a side-effect of their operation. We make sure that if certified washing machines do product ozone particles, that it is at a suitably low level that it is unlikely to have an impact on the indoor environment.
What else do you 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: Indoor Air Quality – Some Serious Home Truths
Sophie casts a critical eye on her own home environment and vows to make some changes…
This is the fourth episode of ‘Sophie’s quest’ a story about places where, surprisingly, air quality may not be as good as expected and brings us on a journey in pursuit of healthy air while balancing the science with everyday life.
By Lifestyle Medical Author Dr. Anna O’ Donovan
It’s Monday morning and with kids safely dispatched, Sophie leans against her closed front door and savors the quiet of the house. She’s working from home today but before she starts, she needs to spend some time focusing on the air quality in her house. All the research over the past few days has really made her think. We spend an average of 90% of our time indoors and unbelievably, indoor air can be two and half times more toxic than outdoor air so it’s a huge issue. But the good news is that Sophie’s home environment is largely under her control.
She was proud of the changes she made when Sean was initially diagnosed with asthma but in all honesty, she could do more. Immediately on learning of his diagnosis she ditched her ancient vacuum cleaner and invested in a highly effective one, certified to be effective against allergies and asthma. It has a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter which traps dust, allergens, mold, pet dander -essentially all the small particles that would have been just recirculated into the air when using her old cleaner. Vacuuming and mopping her floors twice a week has become a habit now and she was secretly pleased with herself for doing it. But she knows it’s not enough. This morning she is going to make a check list of 4 things she can change and initiate by the end of the week.
Task 1: Clean up the cleaning products
Under Sophie’s sink, there must be 15 bottles of cleaning products and every single one smells spring-clean delicious of pine or lemon or some other synthetic fragrance to make her home smell clean. But it’s not clean she is smelling at all -it’s chemicals. Clean doesn’t smell. These chemicals are volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and can cause asthma and allergies. They have also been implicated in fertility problems and cancers. It is good practice to use only the product that’s as strong as you need it to be, ditch the super strength products and use only those that clearly list their ingredients. If fragrances aren’t clearly labeled, assume they are not what you would want in your home or your lungs.
Also on the checklist is to move paints, fuels and solvents to an outside storage area – the shed is ideal – rather than the garage which is connected to the house and doesn’t have good ventilation.
Kids at a neighboring school recently had a science project whereby they learned how to make environmentally friendly cleaning products. They recycled spray bottles and following recipes from an environmental website created floor cleaner, furniture polish, air fresheners and all-purpose cleaners. This would be a great project for her own kids’ school and considering nearly half of all schools in the U.S. suffer from some sort of indoor air quality, it would be a wonderful step forward if the school adopted the use of the greener products.
Task 2: Sort through the soft toys.
A vast collection of soft toys has invaded Sophie’s house since the kids were born. Most of Sean’s now lie unused and unloved in toy boxes and on shelves where they are a perfect home for dust mites and allergens. She is planning a ruthless culling of those ones. Tara’s plush toys are still a part of the family so Sophie will hot wash and tumble dry those that will survive it. The others she will put in the freezer for 24 hours, then rinse in cold water to remove the dead mites. These toys should be vacuumed when she is vacuuming the house too.
It’s not just that toys are potential vessels for dust mite, some can release VOCs, fire retardants, phthalates and even lead. Responsible toy manufacturers thankfully now often have certification marks on labels to help parents ensure these toxins aren’t brought into the house.
Task 3: Get a hold on the mold.
It’s time to check the vents in every room and consider investing in some dehumidifiers. In this damp climate humidity can rise above 50% and this encourages the proliferation of dust mite. Ideally, humidity should be kept between 35 and 50% to will help control mold and mildew. Dryers should be vented outdoors. In bathrooms, where mold can be particularly problematic, fans need to be used, vents checked and visible mold removed with a mild cleaner. Mold is commonly found in damp spaces such as under the sink, in the refrigerator, dishwasher and the shower and of course shower curtains. Shower curtains can also ‘off gas’ so are never a good choice when considering allergy and asthma triggers.
The kids need to be reminded to always use the fan when showering so that air is circulated and moisture reduced. The shower mats need to be washed and dried fully every week. Dirty or damp clothes should not be left in a pile but should be brought straight to the laundry room. This will also reduce pollen from outdoors being spread around the house. Ask family members to wash and wipe down the sink after use rather than leave puddles of water.
Task 4: Go shopping!
Sean’s bedding already has mite proof mattress and pillow covers and Sophie is pretty disciplined about washing his sheets in a hot wash once a week, but she has decided to invest for the rest of the family as well. Millions of dust mite live in our mattresses and pillows and she is pretty certain that the pillow Tara is sleeping on was her first ever pillow. Pillows should be replaced every 5 years so it’s wise buy a high quality one that will withstand frequent washing. Dust mite resistant mattress and pillow encasements will prevent mites getting into the mattresses and pillows and will stop any already present from crawling into your sleeping space. Products that have withstood rigorous testing and are certified as such are always a good investment.
Large Floor mats should be inside and outside every entrance so that the family can wipe off outdoor matter instead of traipsing it indoors. This is such a simple principle and reduces floor cleaning so is a no-brainer. Added to this, ask family to remove outdoor shoes at the entrance.
These are all easy changes and require little more than some diligence and a little work. It’s always a good idea to engage the kids in these tasks (anything to reduce the workload!) and to explain the reasons behind them. If the entire family is on board, Sophie’s goal to control her home environment thereby reducing the allergy and asthma triggers that can be dangerous to her kids will be a whole lot easier.
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: Washing Machines
By Scientific Author Dr. Tim Yeomans
This article deals with products that can help with the control of exposure to allergens through their removal or treatment.
These can include:
- Vacuum cleaners
- Carpet washers
- Washing machines
- Air filters
- Cleaning products
- Air conditioners
A washing machine is a key part of an allergen reduction plan – there are a number of items in the home that can accumulate allergen that can be rendered ‘safe’ following washing. These include:
- Pillow cases
- Duvet covers
- Mattress encasements
Dust mites are sensitive to elevated temperatures, and the ingredients of some washing detergents can degrade proteins (including the dust mite proteins that can induce an allergic response). The key measure for a washing machine therefore is that it can reach the temperature indicated on the wash cycle – for killing dust mites, this needs to be at least 130°F (54.4°C). While all washing machines will include a hot wash cycle, this temperature must be achieved in a consistent way within the drum, rather than peaking at a particular hot spot.
- Does your washing machine consistently reach a minimum of 130°F (54.4°C) and has this been tested?
- This is the critical kill point for the house dust mite, some washing machines may reach this temperature but only at certain spots in the drum (‘hot-spots’). Ensure that your washing machine has been tested appropriately that a consistent high temperature is reached in order to kill house dust mites.
|Certification Name||asthma & allergy friendly®||Green Seal||LEED/USGBC||Greenguard Gold|
|Capability to reduce bio-allergen levels|
The Washing machine should have the capability to reduce bio-allergen levels in selected test items
Dust mite, pet dander
Dust mite, pet dander
Dust mite, pet dander
The washing machine should have the capability to kill house dust mites
Many electric motor driven appliances produce ozone as a by-product
Certifications are mapped against asthma & allergy friendly® but may include other criteria
|The Certification of washing machines as asthma & allergy friendly® is subject to manufacturer’s warranty period for washing machines.||NSF Protocol P351 also requires that the washing machine be designed to avoid accumulation of dirt and debris, be easily cleanable, and corrosion resistant.||Mandatory intensive rinsing, maximum water consumption, maximum detergent residues. The washing performance exceeds 0.99 (according to IEC 60456 [EN60456: 2011])||Energy and water efficiency|
15 October 2019
An Interview with Jay Ayers, Indoor Air Quality Product Manager, HVAC Residential, at Ingersoll Rand, on the CERTIFIED Trane CleanEffects™ whole home air cleaner.READ MORE
25 September 2019
A human could last up to 3-4 days without water and just 3-4 minutes without air, this is how important healthy air is to us.READ MORE
16 September 2019
Hotel magazine recommending to use CERTIFIED asthma & allergy friendly® products and especially the Sanitaire® EON™ ALLERGEN Commercial Upright Vacuum.READ MORE
22 August 2019
We spend most of our lives in our homes and many of us have realised that ensuring our homes are healthy is paramount to our general health.READ MORE