Wednesday, April 29, 2009

CRI Survey of Asthma & Allergy Doctors

One of the biggest reasons for this blog is to provide you with up-to-date information and data as we gather it. Today I share information gleaned from a recent survey of asthma and allergy [A&A] doctors conducted by the Carpet and Rug Institute [CRI].

As some of you are well aware, carpet continues to come under attack in regards to some health issues, notably those that surround asthma and allergies. We wanted to find out exactly what was being said in doctor’s offices when patients present with these type medical concerns and, although not all of it was flattering with regards to carpet, there were a few pleasant surprises.

Our survey included over 300 asthma and allergy specialists as well as general practitioners who treat patients who present with such symptoms. Originally, we had planned to limit it to the specialists but at a recent Asthma & Allergy Foundation show we learned that more and more people are having their general practitioners treat them because insurance carriers foot more of the bill and in today’s economy it is more practical to go that route.

In 2003, CRI did a major campaign directed at asthma and allergy doctors. Prior to starting that campaign, we did a benchmark survey and found that almost 60 percent of doctors recommended that patients remove their carpet as part of A&A treatment. We then took all the relative information and data we had collected (much of it done by third parties that we had no affiliation with whatsoever) packaged it and sent it out. We followed up our benchmark survey with another one and found out that we were convincing enough with our message that the needle had been lowered to 42 percent of doctors prescribing carpet removal.

Obviously, such a campaign was expensive and with our budgetary constraints as a non-profit organization it was a one-time effort. Over the last several years we, along with our member mills, have been hearing more and more chatter about doctors recommending carpet removal and this has especially affected the educational facilities with fewer schools putting down carpet, and when they do, it's minimal.

The good news with our most recent survey is that the percentage of doctors telling patients to remove carpet as a treatment is about the same at 43 percent and that number is our new benchmark, or rather our new target to take aim.

One of the interesting things we have learned is that doctors base this recommendation on something that has been described to us as coming from the “manual or playbook” in treating patients. Most of them haven’t seen a lot of hardcore information to back it up, but nonetheless, it is a widely-held belief. The other interesting thing is that most doctors realize that the two recommendations they often give (get rid of pets and the carpet) are two of the recommendations least likely to followed.

One thing you have to realize about doctors is that they are clinicians rather than scientists. At CRI, we round up a great deal of scientific data and have a lot in regards to the asthma subject. As we surveyed the doctors, though, and presented them with messages and asked which were the most credible, our scientific messages scored really low on the believability scale. This is the mountain that lies before us.

The good news is twofold: One, there is a clinical study currently being conducted on behalf of the Center for Disease Control and American Lung Association by Emery University that deals with asthma and allergy symptoms and flooring, and will be the first of its kind. That study should be complete and published sometime in 2010 after four years of work and could prove to be the foundation we have waited on to dispel this urban myth.

Secondly, the doctors surveyed really buy into the fact that maintaining and cleaning carpet is the best solution to combating asthma triggers, notably dust mites. Back in 2003 when we did the campaign, we didn’t have our Seal of Approval program which tests for cleaning products that are superior to those that don’t work.

So until we have our “magic bullet” to shoot down this tale that carpet has any negative effect on asthma patients, we’ll work hard to get the cleaning message out and use these doctors to better explain it to their patients. Our hope is that one day, we’ll be able to not only have zero doctors recommending carpet removal, but we’ll have them advocating the proper cleaning message for health purposes. Not only will the carpets continue to work on their behalf in the fight against A&A, but by cleaning them properly they will last longer and consumers will enjoy their beauty and benefits for years to come.

Let me know if you have questions.

~ James

Also see Get the Facts on Carpet and Asthma and Allergies and download The Facts about Carpet and Asthma and Allergy.

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fritz rench said...

benchmark research re carpet cleaning and alergen removal was done by Dr. Judy Bates with racine industries.
3 studies...peer reviewed and presented at
internatioanl iaq symposiums. Helsinki; Tokyo;
Negoya. available n/c at IAQ Research, po box 1648,racine, wi 53401.

The Carpet And Rug Institute said...


Thanks so much for the comment. CRI would love to utilize any information we can get our hands on regarding carpet and allergies. I'll follow up with a note to you at the address you have listed and see how we can best utilize it to better educate consumers and doctors on proper maintenance being the key to reducing allergens that are being trapped and held out of the breathing zone by carpet.


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