Kawasaki Syndrome is respiratory disease that can cause potentially fatal cardiovascular complications. In the mid-80's the disease began to be linked with carpet cleaning. Is is true? Is there really a link between carpet cleaning and Kawasaki Syndrome? Is carpet cleaning dangerous?

The Facts

Kawasaki Syndrome first appeared in Japan in the 1960's after being discovered by Dr, Tomisaku Kawasaki, and has been found to cause cardiovascular complications in infants and young children. Symptoms include prolonged fever that does no respond to antibiotics, along with conjuntivitis in the eyes, cracked lips, and swelling, peeling, and redness in the hands and feet.

In 1982, an outbreak of Kawasaki Syndrome occurred in Denver with 23 reported cases. Eleven out of 23 children had been exposed to carpet cleaning within 30 days of the outbreak. Twelve of the 23 had no contact with carpet cleaning at all.

The Media Scare

The media made the link between carpet cleaning and the disease, causing widespread panic among parents. The existence of such a link has been debated ever since. On one side, several in the medical community feel that carpet should not only not be cleaned, but should be removed from the home entirely. On the other, industry professionals counter by stating there has never been even the slightest bit of evidence that would link the disease with carpet cleaning.

What the Experts Say

A 1985 study in in Colorado revealed a link between Kawasaki Syndrome and living near small bodies of water. Four subsequent surveys performed by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) of other outbreaks, one detailed investigation by Maryland state health officials, and other studies by investigators in eastern Ontario and western Quebec revealed no relationship to carpet cleaning. Since most cases of the disease have no relationship to carpet cleaning, carpet cleaning is not necessarily a factor for Kawasaki Syndrome. This is explained clearly on the Kawasaki Syndrome Foundation web site (http://www.kdfoundation.org/).

Dr. Michael Berry, former director of the National Center for Environmental Assessment, in his book "Protecting the Built Environment: Cleaning for Health", states that most indoor cleaning problems are related to dirty carpets, but this problem can be solved through maintenance and restoration. Carpet acts as a sink to collect pollutants of all kinds from indoors and out, according to Berry. As the carpet gets polluted, it stores more and more dirt, dust, and contaminants. When the sink is full, it needs to be emptied.

If a carpet is not cleaned on a regular basis, it can become a breeding ground for biopollutants, Berry says. It is crucial to regularly empty the sink and make sure that your carpets are cleaned properly. He adds that the medical community recommends that people remove carpets from buildings and homes, but it is wrong to assume that all carpets will become contaminated and affect people's health. Rarely do people clean their carpets in an effort to protect their health, Berry says, but cleaning carpet regularly can improve indoor air quality.

The Carpet and Rug Institute has conducted numerous studies regarding carpet and its effect on the environment. Their conclusion as stated on their web site: "Recent studies show that, contrary to sensationalist media reports, carpet is a safe, cost-effective flooring choice for virtually any indoor setting". Their web site can be found here (http://www.carpet-health.org/).

What About Use of Chemicals?

Although there may be some products used in carpet cleaning that people should be cautious with, most carpet cleaning chemicals are similar to detergents used to clean clothes, according to Dr. Azziz Ullah, president of FABPRO, Inc. "In most cases, I think water-based products are relatively safe, as most of the dangerous chemicals used by cleaners in the past are no longer used. The chemicals used in carpet cleaning are very similar to those used to clean your clothes."

Commercial cleaning products are considerably less toxic and dangerous than what a consumer can buy and put under their sink for their own cleaning chores. Commercial products are formulated in professional strength, but when diluted for actual use they become significantly weaker and therefore less likely to cause any irritation on the part of the user or others.

Note: PRO-TECH Cleaning Services only uses safe cleaning products with low VOC (volatile organic compounds) emissions to ensure the safety of the technicians as well as the residents.