The worst source of indoor pollution found in homes today is carpeting. Plush carpets are deep
reservoirs in which toxic compounds, allergens, and dangerous bacteria dwell. According to one
paper in Applied Microbiology, one square foot of carpet can contain millions of dust mites,
mold spores, and micro-organisms that regular vacuuming cannot eliminate.
New carpets out gas volatile organic chemicals or, VOCs such as 4 -PC which give new carpets their new carpet odor. It is actually a by-product of latex used in the backing of many carpets. Other VOCs in carpeting include toluene, formaldehyde, acetone, dyes, and benzines while derivatives containing VOCs are, resistant coatings for stains, fire, mildew, fungus and pesticides.
We would consider outdoor dump sites containing the same chemicals at the same psi hazardous sites and fight for their removal, yet many home owners who have carpeting are exposed to the same environment indoors without even knowing it… Pesticides cannot break down when contained indoors and can last for years.
They continue to build up as carpet cleaning products, carpet fresheners, and spot removers are used to keep them clean. Add dirt, mold, and bacteria that build at the bottom of carpeting where vacuuming and cleaning can’t reach and you have your very own toxic dump site.
Exposure to VOCs can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, nausea, liver damage, loss of co-ordination, and damage to the central nervous system. VOCs are also known to cause cancer in animals and are suspected to cause cancer in humans.
While removal of all carpeting is the most effective means in improving home air quality, if you must use carpets there are a few things you can do:
- Roll out carpet and allow it to outgas outside before installation or ask your installer if they can lay it out in the warehouse for a few days before installation.
- Tack down carpets rather than using glue if possible to eliminate toxins from adhesives.
- Leave fans running and windows open for a few days after installation.
- Vacuum regularly and deep clean carpets at least once a year.
- Keep your carpet dry to discourage mould and mildew.
- Use ultrafine Hepa filter vacuum bags and vacuum as often as possible.
Even moderate alterations in one’s choices can play a significant role in the reduction of carpet pollution and understanding indoor toxins and their affects on our health can provide a safer, cleaner environment for your family.
Published in: Home