When you bring home that new carpet and you notice a strong smell; that should tell you something.
Synthetic carpet can have as many as 120 neurotoxic chemicals in it that make up that “new carpet smell”. Many of these chemical substances have been linked to health problems such as allergies, burning eyes, nose and sinuses, asthma, and difficulty concentrating. These chemicals can include formaldehyde, benzene, toluene, and xylene which can be found in the carpet fibers, rubber backing, glues, fungicides, dyes, and stain resistant treatments that are applied to new carpet.
Out-gassing is the process of these chemicals turning into gas and entering the environment. The most dangerous stage of out-gassing is from 4 weeks to 3 months after installation, but high levels can be present for up to 3 years!
The interesting thing is that this out-gassing does not only occur in your home, but can travel by air as far away as the Arctic and other remote regions. A recent study at the University of Toronto found that PFCAs (perfluorinated carboxylic acids), one of the many protective chemicals in carpets and other products can travel these regions and play havoc with the environment and people’s health (Env Sci and Tech, 6/04).
In other words, those chemicals that you are breathing in a close range, are also being spread around the world.
What can you do to lower your risk and to help the environment?
1. Install natural fibers (wool, industrial hemp, cotton and jute) without chemical treatments that kill fungus, moths or resist stains.
2. Purchase carpet that has the seal from the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) or have synthetic carpet tested by Anderson Labs for the presence of toxic materials. Nylon carpet is the safest of the synthetic carpets.
3. Tack carpet down instead of using glues.
4. Avoid carpet backing with PVC or styrene-butadiene rubber.
5. Have carpet installed during warm months and ventilate the house extensively.
6. Ask your carpet installer to air the carpet out at the warehouse for at least 3 days before bringing it to your house.
7. Keep babies and small children off of new synthetic carpeting.
Be conscious of what you buy for your home. It effects you, your family and the world. WOW!