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Carpet

Can Carpet and Carpet Padding Make You Sick?

Many people complain about new carpet and carpet padding because both can create a strong odor that's objectionable, especially to the chemically sensitive. This smell can last for weeks or months after installation, and is usually due to the emission of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as formaldehyde and other air pollutants that are used in the manufacturing process.

Other chemicals are often sprayed on the surface of a carpet before it's shipped to prevent moths and other bugs from eating the carpet.

Since 1993 the carpet industry has required carpet manufacturers to label carpets with a health advisory warning such as "some people experience allergic or flu-like symptoms, headaches, or respiratory problems,which are associated with the installation, cleaning or removal of carpeting."

Although there has been progress to minimize the toxicity of carpet and carpet padding, the vast majority of carpets still off-gas pollutants that are not good for your health. The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI), an industry group, has made reductions in 4-PC, for example, which is one of the most odorous VOCs.

There are researchers who say that emission levels are now low, but it's not agreed as to what levels are actually 'safe'. Those suffering from asthma or allergies might be more sensitive than most. These same people may also be affected by the dirt, dust mites and mildew that can build up in carpeting.

The CRI has a testing program that uses independent lab tests four times a year to verify VOC levels. Carpets that pass their test may carry a "green label" as well as the health advisory. The question is, "Are they reliable or comprehensive enough to answer all the questions concerning health?" This may be hard to say at this point in time, but like other industries that are striving to become greener, it's a step in the right direction.

Green Building Supply is years ahead of the declining toxic curve because we carry wool carpeting that is very low in VOCs or has none at all. We also carry carpet pad that does not off-gas toxic chemicals.

Copyright © 2005 Joel Hirshberg   All rights reserved.