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Thursday, 31 August, 2000, 09:45 GMT 10:45 UK
School carpets in asthma row
Boy using inhaler
Campaigners say dust mites in carpets contribute to asthma
Removing carpets from schools could help tackle the increase in asthma among young people, claim campaigners for "healthy flooring".

According to campaigners who want schools to get rid of carpets, asthma can be exacerbated by the 100,000 dust mites that inhabit every square metre of carpeting.

But head teachers have been unimpressed by the calls to clear out carpets, saying that they help to dampen noise and to create a better atmosphere for learning.

The Healthy Flooring Network, which promotes the use of environmentally-friendly flooring, such as seagrass rugs and jute mats, says that scrapping carpets could cut asthma.

Using research commissioned from an allergy expert, Jill Warner at Southampton University, the campaigners say that there is a link between carpets and asthma and allergies.

"Councils must put children's health first when choosing floors and phase out fitted carpets and PVC. Parents trying to reduce allergens in the home rely on authorities to do the same in schools," said a spokesman for the Healthy Flooring Network.

'Civilised atmosphere'

But the leader of the Secondary Heads Association, John Dunford, rejected the proposal.

"Schools can only do what is affordable and there's no question that carpeting helps to create a more civilised learning atmosphere."

And the head of education at the Local Government Association, Graham Lane, said that carpeting was favoured because it helped produce quieter classes.

"Most local education authorities - when they can afford it - do prefer to carpet schools because it's much quieter."

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15 Jun 99 | Medical notes
Asthma
12 May 00 | Health
Dust 'protects against asthma'
19 Jul 00 | Health
Asthma rates 'falling steadily'
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