One of the great mysteries about rolls of carpet, according to Rosalind Anderson, Ph.D., is that one part of it might be toxic while another isn't. And some rolls have enough toxicity to make people sick, while other rolls don't — even if they have been manufactured in the same way. |
Carpet has been linked with growing number of health risks. Typical carpets contain toxic chemicals in the fiber bonding materials, dyes, glues, binders, fungicides, and in the antistatic and stain-resistant treatments. Out-gassing can persist at high levels for up to three years. Most adhesives for carpet installation are solvent based and contain harmful chemicals. Most wool carpets are treated with highly toxic pesticides.
There are many healthy, sustainable and eco-friendly choices for flooring today, yet many homeowners still prefer to install carpet in their homes.
All carpets, even the best natural and untreated carpets harbor dirt, dust, mold, bacterial growth, and toxins from the outside. Even the common cleaning products contain harmful ingredients like perfumes, chemical soil removers and antibacterial agents.
If you choose carpet, the healthiest choices are to:
1. Nail, don't glue, the carpet down.
2. Choose natural fiber carpet when you can afford it (specify that you want organic wool carpet).
3. Buy low-VOC brands. Volatile organic compounds are toxic, and they commonly off-gas from furnishings including carpet.
4. Avoid styrene-butadiene-rubber latex combinations and polyurethane carpet backing.
5. Look for a Carpet and Rug Institute label.
6. Try a nontoxic carpet sealant. If you recently got new carpet and it still smells even if the glue has dried or it was nailed down, you may not know if it is toxic — but you probably want the smell to go away.
For those who choose to install carpets in their homes or offices, there are some steps that can be taken to minimize the risks and for choosing the least toxic carpeting:
* Use wool carpets that have not been treated with moth-proofing * 100% nylon is the safest of the synthetic carpets * Choose carpet that has little or no odor. * Buy carpet from a dealer who will warehouse the carpet for you unrolled prior to installation and be sure to buy it early so it can "air out" before delivery. * Do not buy carpet with fungicides or mildewcides. * Do not buy stain resistant carpet. * Choose woven backing over rubberized backing. * Avoid carpeting and pads with styrene-butadiene rubber. * Use non-toxic and odor-free shampoos and maintain carpets regularly to prevent mold, bacteria, dust and pesticide build-up. * Vacuum regularly with a vacuum cleaner that is equipped with a true HEPA filter. Be sure to move furniture regularly. * Establish a no-shoes policy in your home. * If the carpet gets wet, dry it as quickly as possible to prevent microbial growth. * NEVER use carpet in bathrooms or kitchens where it is exposed to high levels of moisture.
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