For asthma and allergy sufferers the choice of carpeting or hard flooring can be a confusing one. Although medical professionals often advise people with severe allergies to remove wall-to-wall carpeting, carpet manufacturers defend their product, saying that carpet fibers actually trap allergy-provoking substances like dust and pollen and prevent them from circulating in the air where they can be inhaled. A new carpet from International carpet and artificial grass manufacturer, DESSO, could mean an end to such conundrums as it is designed to capture and retain more of the potentially harmful allergy-producing particles in its fibers and significantly reduce the amount of such particles floating in the air.

Both the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America and German Asthma Foundation (DAAB) actually come down on the side of carpet manufacturers, saying there are more allergens on surfaces than in the air. But the problem is that the slightest movement can disturb them. The new AirMaster carpet is designed to address this problem by safely trapping and immobilizing potentially harmful allergy-producing particles in the carpet fibers. DESSO says this guarantees a significant improvement in indoor air quality, and therefore reduces the risk of health-related problems.

How it works

The carpet’s dust capturing functionality comes without the use of chemical additives, instead relying on a mechanical solution that makes it both permanent and without side effects. The coarser dust is captured in the thicker yarns of the lower pile, while the high pile consists of ultra fine yarn filaments to capture and retain particulate matter that is less than 10 micrometers.

The World Health Organization (WHO) warns particles of this size can penetrate deep into the lungs, while the US EPA says that particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers can even enter the cardiovascular system, with both having the possibility to result serious health effects.

The carpet’s ability to trap fine particles doesn’t mean that vacuuming just got more difficult either. The carpet’s ribbed structure features open spaces between the thick and fine yarns to allow for improved air circulation by vacuum cleaners, with tests carried out by Philips Floorcare indicating that over 80 percent of the dust is released by the carpet during vacuuming – a 16 percent improvement compared to standard carpet.


In tests carried out by the independent German test institute GUI, which specializes in the analysis of indoor and outdoor air quality a specific amount of fine dust was blown into a room simulation with a certain flooring solution – hard floor, standard carpet or AirMaster carpeting. The room simulation is then left to allow the fine dust to settle on the floor. After a certain period of time the air in the room is circulated again, which simulates a person walking in a room or a door opening. The reduction of fine dust concentration is then measured.

The results confirmed the AirMaster carpet was eight times more effective than hard flooring and four times more effective than standard carpeting in capturing and retaining fine dust. These results contributed to DESSO being the the world's only carpet manufacturer to offer a product certified with a Gold logo from GUI.


With WHO estimating that, in 2005 alone, some 250,000 people died from asthma worldwide and the incidence of the disease on the rise, DESSO believes there is a ready-made market for its new carpet. The company says it will have particular health benefits for hospitals, schools and offices, where people spend a lot of time, (it is estimated that a person with a full-time office job spends an average of 1,800 hours every year in their office), and there can be a great deal of foot traffic stirring up dust from the floor.

DESSO's AirMaster carpet is available in 18 colors and a range of designs and could be an attractive option for the world’s growing number of asthma sufferers – short of chowing down on some hookworms or setting a team of robotic vacuum cleaners on permanent patrol anyway.

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