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The Toxic Dangers of Carpeting:Are the Carpets in Your Home or Office a Health Hazard?

Walking across your soft, wall-to-wall carpet with bare feet may seem pleasant enough, and we won't deny that it does feel cozy, but there are some unpleasant and downright dangerous things about carpeting that deserve attention.

In America, we love wall-to-wall carpeting--in fact, according to the Carpet and Rug Institute more than two-thirds of American floors have them--despite the fact that they contain toxic byproducts that are released into our homes and even inhaled and absorbed into our bodies.

Carpet Samples

It looks innocent enough, but carpets are made from synthetic fibers that have been treated with toxic chemicals that outgas into your home.

Carpets Emit Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in Your Home

Almost all carpet is made from synthetic fibers and those fibers have been treated with synthetic chemicals that "outgas" into your home. Here's a list of some carpet "ingredients":

  • Petroleum byproducts and synthetics (polypropylene, nylon, acrylic)
  • Soil and stain repellents
  • Vinyl or latex
  • PVC
  • Urethane
  • Antistatic sprays
  • Artificial dyes
  • Antimicrobial treatments

After being exposed to these chemicals and breathing them in or absorbing them through the skin, some people may feel symptoms such as headache, dizziness or nausea right away.

But often times, no symptoms are felt. In the long-term, however, no one knows for certain what the effects of these chemicals may be. The EPA has said that no cause-and-effect relationship between carpet emissions and health problems has been proven. However, says Mark Gold from Holistic Healing, "Please pay attention to this warning: Sucking down toxic chemicals may seem okay now, but you may pay a very heavy price in the future."

For instance, carpets may contain:

  • Known carcinogens such as p-Dichlorobenzene. These chemicals may also cause hallucinations, nerve damage and respiratory illness in humans.

  • 4-PC, the chemical that gives carpets their distinctive "new carpet smell" and is associated with eye, nose and upper respiratory problems.

  • Mothproofing chemicals, which contain naphthalene.

  • Fire retardants with PBDEs, which may cause damage to thyroid, immune system and brain development functions in humans.

Older carpets can be more problematic than new ones for two reasons:

  1. Older carpets may contain older, more toxic chemicals that have since been banned from the market

  2. Older carpets accumulate toxins (such as cigarette smoke, pesticide sprays, paint fumes, etc.) and can slowly release them over time. Further, carpets with PVC backing may contain plasticizers that can react with moisture or humidity, resulting in an odor.

What can You Do?

There are several actions you can take to reduce your exposure to carpet emissions.

  1. Choose Natural Carpeting: Wool or hemp are two alternatives, but make sure they haven't been chemically treated (most are).

  2. Green Label Plus Certification: In 2004, the Carpet and Rug Institute started the Green Label Plus Certification, which certifies that carpets are free from 13 toxic chemicals. Look for carpets with this certification.

    Trap Soil and Dirt with
    Waterhog Grand Premeir Mats and Rugs

    DID YOU KNOW? The right mats placed around your home are one of the keys to keep dangerous toxins from being tracked into your home? The Waterhog Grand Premier Mats and Rugs are by far the best available because they:

    • Trap Dirt and Liquids
    • Keep Dirt and Liquids Beneath Shoe Level
    • Dry Very Fast and Resists Corrosion
    • Won't Slip
    • Last Much Longer Than Other Mats
    • Are Simple to Clean
    • Are attractive and Affordable

    Learn Which Mats to Avoid, Why the Grand Premiers are Superior

  3. Opt for Wood or Tile Floors and Using Mats: Carpeting isn't a necessity--hardwood floors, tiles and other materials can be attractive and pure alternatives. If you miss the feel of carpet, or to add a design flair to wood or tile flooring, you can add mats and rugs. Be sure to choose high-quality mats and rugs that trap contaminants rather than adding to the problem like the Waterhog Grand Premier Mats and Rugs.

The Waterhog Grand Premier are no ordinary mats; in fact, they actually trap soil and liquids in the mat so they don't drain or track onto your floors. That's why, odd as it may sound, the proper doormats and mats placed throughout your home that truly capture dirt and prevent it from becoming dust in your house is one of today's most essential health tools! To learn more, read The Most Unknown, Underrated but Crucial Health Tool.

Recommended Reading

The Most Unknown, Underrated but Crucial Health Tool

Dust Dangers: What Exactly is Dust, and Why Can it be so Dangerous?

Exposure to Air Pollution Linked to Genetic Abnormalities

Finding Solutions to Toxic Carpeting January 31, 2005

Dangerous Toxins That Live in Your Carpeting

Your Home Carpet

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