Information for consumers about British Wool Products

How wool interiors can help clean the air in your home

Wool is a complex, natural fibre, bringing many specific benefits to a wide variety of different products.  But did you know that choosing wool interior products, such as carpets, can actually help to remove potentially harmful chemicals from your home? Scientific research has suggested that installing wool carpets, curtains and soft furnishings could actually improve air quality inside homes and offices – all thanks to the amazing qualities of wool fibre.

VOCs – potentially harmful chemicals

Volatile organic compounds (or VOCs) are present in items or substances we use daily in our homes - cleaning fragrances, paint, glue and furniture. A number of VOCs, such as formaldehyde, are now recognised as known carcinogens, and are linked to an increase in cancer. VOCs are also associated with ‘sick building syndrome’, where people living or working in a particular building have symptoms such as headaches and allergic reactions.

How does wool absorb VOCs?

A team from Bangor University carried out research to assess the ability of wool to absorb harmful chemicals. The team exposed wool to a range of VOCs including formaldehyde, emitted by furniture made from MDF and chipboard, limonene, which is the lemony smell in cleaning products, and toluene, found in paint thinners. The results demonstrated that wool absorbed all of the chemicals, which became bound to the structure of the fibres.

Graham Ormondroyd, Head of Materials Research at Bangor University said: “The research demonstrated that wool – a natural and sustainable material – is able to absorb a range of potentially harmful chemicals from the indoor environment. The more wool you have the more it can absorb.” 

Wool also helps to manage humidity in the air, storing the excess moisture in the core of the fibre and then releasing it when the air is drier. This is another important benefit in supporting clean air since rising moisture levels create a breeding ground for mould which could later develop into “toxic mould syndrome”, which has also previously been linked to sick building syndrome.

Amongst other benefits, wool carpets can also help prevent pet odours – another reason to choose them for the family home.

Read more about the benefits of British Wool and find your nearest British Wool product stockist.


Journal of Materials Science article

Public Health England - Indoor Air Quality Guidelines for selected Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in the UK

Daily Mail article - Woollen carpets could help cut air pollution in homes by absorbing harmful chemicals from cleaning fragrances, paint and furniture, new research shows

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