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Indoor Air Pollution: How Many Chemicals Are In Carpeting?

Why You Should Not Put Babies on Carpeting:  Baby Bentrup by paparutzi

Why You Should Not Put Babies on Carpeting: Baby Bentrup by paparutzi

When you are lying in that plush wall to wall carpeting and watching TV  you are not thinking”Hey, how many chemicals are in this carpeting?”  It is not whether carpeting has chemicals; it’s how many and how do they affect your health?

Carpeting is Said to Have 120 Neurotoxins

  While I cannot find a comprehensive list, many are listed and the reasons they are used.  Neurotoxins sound bad because they are.  They go through the blood/brain barrier attacking your central nervous system. The blood/brain barrier works to protect the brain.

Carpeting has chemicals :  keep mold and bacteria growing(ant-fungal & anti-bacterial); stain proofing; made from petroleum fibers, and treated with bleaches, dyes,stain protectant and anti static solutions.  Many of these substances are banned by FDA as not approved for contact with human skin. If banned, why are they in carpeting?   Instead, we have babies crawling and toddlers playing with toys on the carpeting.  Does disease start early from environmental exposure?

VOCs That Affect Health

Here are some of the VOCs (volatile organic compounds) known to be in carpeting.:  4 pheny cyclophexene, toulene and styrene.  Formaldehyde can also be found in the carpeting itself and/or the backing.  These VOCs can cause:  respiratory tract irritation, headaches and dizziness.  Some of these are suspected carcinogens.  Throw in a cigarette smoking near the carpeting and the carpet has wicked up the 69 known carcinogens and some of the total 4,000 chemicals in cigarettes.  It is never a good idea to smoke inside.  Who knows what mold, indoor air pollution, and cigarettes do to a young body.

Look At What the Cat & Dog Dragged In

Other issues with carpeting are the cat and dog will carry substances in on their paws.  Vacuums have a hard time penetrating the thicker, plusher carpeting. This leave the bad stuff:  dirt mites, mold and mildew, bacteria, lead and pesticides.  Years ago carpeting was made to be taken out and cleaned. Carpets were cleaned several times a year.   This controlled mold and mildew and other biological contaminants.  It is time to go back of this type of carpet installation.

Over time if the carpeting is not replaced, the backing disintegrate and makes a great place for mold, dirt mites etc to take over.  How many years pass before replacing the carpeting?  Chemicals meant to clean the carpet leave residues in the carpet.  More natural cleaners are effective and safer.

Old Drafty Houses Breathe

New buildings mean air tight energy efficient homes.  Nothing leaks out of them.  Old drafty houses have fresh air leaking in.  Indoor air pollution from carpeting and the many chemicals we own cause our houses to be 2 times to 5 times worse that outdoors; especially if you smoke.

Tips to Limit Chemical Exposure

Natural rugs made of wool are stain resistant and do not require chemicals.  However, they are expensive.  Consider hardwood flooring or bamboo flooring.  If you must have carpeting, consider having area rugs.  Here are some suggestions for folks that must have carpeting;
1.  Buy low pile carpeting.
2.  Let the manufacturer open the carpet and air out a few weeks before installation.  This is the period of intense concentrated off gassing.
3.  Have the carpeting installed to be removed and cleaned.  Tac-fast (hook and loop method-Velcro) lets the carpeting be removed to be cleaned thoroughly.
4.  Install central vacuum system.
5.  Don’t let babies and small children play on carpeting.  Buy a wool area rug for that purpose.
6.  Run a basement dehumidifier.  Humidity causes  mold to grow in the basement.  Mold travels as soon as one opens the door.   It ends up in the furniture and carpeting.
7.  Run air purifiers to remove mold, biological contaminants, and chemicals from the air.
8.  Use a quality hepa vacuum and vacuum frequently.

Carpeting in homes has always made me sick.  Whether it is in a home or office, it affects me.  Guess it is time for you to come to your own conclusion.  With many harmful chemicals in carpeting, should you have it in you home?

References:
1.  John Hopkins Magazine, 2001 – “Home Sick Home” – Melissa Hendricks
2.  Healthy Home Plus – “To Carpet Or Not to Carpet” – by Christi Graham
3.  Purely Pets – “Carpet of Chemicals” – by Christi Keith

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