Saturday, 17 July 2010

Allergen Free Bamboo Flooring

There is some confusion about the terms commonly used. Often people use the terms anti-allergenic, allergen free and hypoallergenic as interchangeable terms. The terms anti-allergenic and allergen free when applied to a product means that product in question has no allergy inducing substances or characteristics. Whereas the term hypoallergenic was developed by the cosmetics industry to refer to products that were 'below normal' or 'slightly' allergenic (see Wikipedia). Thus, a product that is allergen free or anti-allergenic is much better from an allergy sufferer's point of view than one that is merely hypoallergenic.

Scientists are still in much confusion about allergies. They are unsure about the exact cause of allergies. One commonly held theory to explain why there is a much higher incidence rate of allergy among people in the developed world is that since industrialization human environments have become too sterile and whereas the immune system used to ignore foreign bodies such as pollen and dust mite excretion now the immune system has little experience of these substances for people growing up in developed urban centers and reacts to these foreign bodies as a threat. The result is hypersensitivity with the body producing antibodies that release histamine that swells the upper respiratory tract leading commonly to sneezing, runny noses, irritated eyes and itchy skin.

In America 55% of the population tests positive for 1 or more allergy. Food allergies account for only 2% of that figure.

The most common triggers for allergic reaction are: mold, pollen, animal danders and dust mite excretion.

Obviously, if you are prone to allergic reactions it is foolish to keep a pet. There are some dog breeds that are hypoallergenic but not allergen free. The fact that people in the developed world live 90% of their lives indoors is a key one. The way to reduce allergic responses is to improve indoor air quality. This means not only putting allergen free furniture and flooring in your house but also removing items containing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are believed to also trigger allergic symptoms such as formaldehyde. This is one of the key purposes of Green Interior Design.

Strand woven bamboo flooring is allergen free in the sense that it allows no where for dust mites to live. Dust mites are microscopic animals that feed on dead human skin and love hot and humid conditions. They are found mostly in bedding, furniture and carpets. By removing your carpet and installing strand woven bamboo flooring you take away a major breeding ground for dust mites whose excrement aggravates allergies.

Another benefit of strand woven bamboo flooring is that it is mold resistant. Mold spores are a common cause of allergic reaction so to have a mold resistant flooring is a vital way to lower your chances of suffering from an allergic reaction or asthmatic attack. The same is true for hay fever.

To sum up, installing strand woven bamboo flooring in conjunction with regularly changing your bedding and making sure your indoor spaces are free of VOCs will greatly improve the quality of your life if you suffer from hay fever, asthma or other common forms of allergic reaction.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Bamboo - Areas of Concern

The biggest reason to be concerned about a bamboo product stems from the fact that more than likely it was made in the People's Republic of China. Bamboo in itself is great and one of the most remarkable plants on the planet; but, sadly, everything has a political context. The context here is that it is very unclear how sincerely the authorities in Beijing are committed to green issues. They effectively scuttled the Copenhagen climate change talks when President Obama insisted on some independent way of monitoring how the Chinese were carrying out their promises.

So when a Chinese company making bamboo furniture or bamboo flooring claims that the bamboo was grown in an environmentally friendly fashion can you believe that company? Maybe not. However, if the bamboo product you buy is from a company with FSC (forest stewardship council) accreditation then you have more reason to give credence to the green credentials of the bamboo product. For a list of FSC accredited companies selling strand woven bamboo flooring follow the link.

It is not only a matter of not clear cutting forest to grow bamboo. It is important from a green interior design perspective that any bamboo furniture that you buy has not been covered in toxic pesticides. Check before you buy any bamboo product to see if the bamboo is organic.

Finally, there is the matter of human exploitation. The communist authorities having set up a workers state feel it unnecessary to have fair trade programs whereby farmers are fairly paid for their efforts. So when you buy bamboo from China you never know if the farm workers were paid fairly for their efforts or whether they were provided with the basics of sanitation, health care and access to other amenities while they worked the bamboo forests of the Zhujiang river delta in Guangdong Province.