Racine Industries (RI) released a new peer-reviewed white paper that examines the methods of 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 from the study released today suggest that it is premature to conclude that the 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.

"Our study 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. It has not been reviewed by independent peer reviewers. Also, 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 between field and laboratory results has been established.

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.       

For a full copy of the study, go to www.carpetdiemblog.com.