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Dry Steam Cleaning + HEPA = Lead-free Carpets
A Study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene suggests that dry steam cleaning in combination with HEPA vacuuming is the most effective way to remove lead dust from carpets.

Previous studies for lead exposure reduction have indicated the difficulty in reducing surface contamination of carpets with the use of regular vacuum cleaners.

To find a solution, a household vacuum cleaner equipped with a high-efficiency paticulate air (HEPA) filter and a dust finder indicator, and a "dry steam" cleaner previously reported effective in reducing dust mite allergens in carpets and mattresses, were tested for effectiveness in reducing lead dust in carpets.

Fifty homes of lead-exposed children were tested in New Jersey. A selected carpet in the living area of each home was tested with two interventions: half was cleaned by HEPA vacuuming twice (VAC-VAC) and the other half by dry steaming between the two HEPA vacuumings (VAC-DSC-VAC).

Wipe and vacuum samples, representing surface dust and total dust collections, respectively, were taken before and after cleaning. The wipe and vacuum sample data indicated that both cleaning methods substantially reduced dust lead levels (p=0.001). The mean percent reductions in lead loading were approximately 29% and 40% for the VAC-VAC and VAC-DSC-VAC interventions, respectively.

The difference between the two post cleaning levels was statistically significant by wipe sampling (p=0.038) but was marginally insignificant by vacuum sampling (p=0.072).

A subset of sample data collected before repeat vacuuming (VAC-DSC) suggested that repeat vacuuming after dry steam cleaning is unnecessary.

In summary, slow and steady HEPA vacuuming with the help of a dust finder indicator reduces surface and overall lead dust in carpets, and dry steam cleaning further reduces surface lead contamination as compared with HEPA vacuuming alone.

The Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA)
JOEH, 2008