New White Paper Questions Validity of the Carpet & Rug Institute Seal of Approval Program
Paper examines XRF testing methods and suggests further testing necessary to confirm validity of CRI SOA Program
RACINE, Wisc. – [June 2, 2010] – Racine Industries (RI) today released a new peer-reviewed white paper that examines the methods using x-ray spectrometry (XRF) for testing carpet cleaning extractors, systems and vacuums. These methods are used to establish rankings in the Carpet & Rug Institute (CRI) Seal of Approval (SOA) program. Findings suggest that it is premature to conclude that the SOA testing accomplishes the stated objective of quantifying soil levels in carpet and encourages further research before there is widespread acceptance of the SOA program.
The current SOA program, created in a partnership among CRI, Professional Testing Laboratory (PTL) and a manufacturer of XRF technology, was developed with the intention of establishing an industry standard for testing cleaning performance. Initial communication about the use of XRF on carpet created excitement in the industry because it announced a way to quantify dirt in carpet.
Before the birth of the SOA and programs using XRF, the industry relied on a combination of three ways to know if something worked to clean a carpet:
1. Laboratory testing
2. Field testing
3. Customer opinion
By using XRF, SOA has eliminated the impact of customer and field testing and relies solely on laboratory-generated data.
When the use of XRF technology for studying carpet cleaning was first released, RI inquired with several XRF manufacturers to assess the opportunities for using the technology. These manufacturers provided demonstrations, tests and technical reports on using XRF technology. Several concluded that the use of XRF to measure carpet soiling would provide inaccurate and meaningless data ---it would be okay for qualitative purposes, but not good for quantitative purposes.
In addition to XRF manufacturers, RI also solicited feedback from third-party representatives, including the opinions of experts working at medical colleges, environmental labs and EPA XRF training facilities. It was unanimously agreed by experts that XRF testing cannot be used reliably or accurately with carpet. The questions arising from this extensive study are outlined in the white paper released today.
The SOA changes a professional cleaner’s business. It affects what is available in the marketplace--and it affects prices. With the inclusion of SOA requirements in warranties, environmental standards, and legislation, many professionals do not feel that the SOA programs are truly voluntary and that they have no choice but to participate. When not-yet-validated data is used to approve products in the marketplace, the professional cleaner may find that reinvestment in tools and training is necessary to compete—even in spite of the fact his/her customers remain satisfied. The choices upon which they’ve built their business are made irrelevant if it doesn’t comply with the requirements. If business owners’ choices are limited, those limitations need to be trustworthy, unbiased and well-researched. The research also needs to be relevant to installed and used carpet.
Further, when a carpet customer sees the list of approved ways to clean their carpet, the do-it-yourself system, which ranks up with the “best” professional equipment will encourage them to select this more cost-effective means of carpet cleaning. Even if the customer of a professional service never tried an alternative method, the professional cleaners know that their investments are ranked on par or below that of the do-it-yourself system.
“Our paper raises questions about the methodology used to establish SOA rankings of cleaning performance,” said Deborah Lema, Research & Training Associate, Racine Industries. “This method has not been scientifically validated. While our paper has been reviewed by independent peer reviewers, the test method itself has not been, and scientific accuracy, precision, and bias have not been determined. It is our objective to encourage careful examination before the program sees mainstream adoption through any additional environmental certification standards or legislative entities.”
Further, no correlation has been established between laboratory results and what takes place in the field.
Questions arising from the RI study include:
• Will an independent validation study be planned and completed?
• Will a protocol be released?
• Will the reported concentrations of the compounds be reproducible outside of the one licensed laboratory performing this method?
• Will a Determination of Relevance be conducted to see if the laboratory-generated results actually apply to the field?
• Will accuracy and bias be determined and published if not improved?
Without these determinations, the question of whether or not this method generates useful and relevant data cannot be answered. The RI study suggests that consumers and carpet industry professionals should be hesitant to rely on SOA approvals for decision making, and should question the appropriateness and merit of SOA approval being requisite in carpet warranties, environmental standards and legislation.
About Racine Industries Inc.
Founded in 1935 as the Rench Manufacturing Company, Racine Industries Inc. is known for its innovative dry extraction carpet cleaning system which is used in commercial, institutional and residential carpet cleaning in 60 countries worldwide. They are the pioneers of the concept of extracting during carpet cleaning…either wet or dry extraction. Racine Industries is headquartered in Racine, Wisc. For more information, go to http://www.hostdry.com/