Toxins in Carpeting

For new carpets there are ‘volatile organic compounds’ VOC’s. These include toluene, benzene, formaldehyde, ethyl benzene, styrene, acetone and a large amount of other chemicals, some of which have already made the EPA’s list of Extremely Hazardous Substances. Known carcinogens such as p- Dichlorobenzene are in new carpets, as are chemicals that produce fetal abnormalities in test animals. These chemicals also cause hallucinations, nerve damage and respiratory illness in humans.

Other compounds in new carpeting that affect health are adhesives, stain protectors, mothproofing and flame retardants. The ‘new carpet smell’ comes from 4-PC, associated with eye, nose and upper respiratory problems that are suffered by many new carpet owners. 4-PC is used in the latex backing of 95% of US carpets. In 2000 the 3M Company removed the chemical perflouro-octanyl salphonate from from their product, Scotchgard, because it had been found to cause reproductive problems in rats.

Moth proofing chemicals contain naphthalene, which is known to produce toxic reactions, especially in newborns. Fire retardants often contain PBDE’s which are known to cause damage to thyroid, immune system and brain development functions in humans.

Older carpets can be more of a hazard than new ones: Not only do they contain the chemicals banned from more recent production, they also have had years to accumulate pounds of dust mites, dirt, pesticides and other toxins brought in on shoes, feet and pet’s paws.

Carpet can hold 8 times it’s weight in toxin filled dirt. The EPA has stated that 80% of human exposure to pesticides happens indoors.

Chemicals settle in the rug and stay there for years. If the room has been painted the curing paint leaves its VOC’s in the carpet for you to inhale long after the walls no longer smells of paint.

Older carpets are so toxic that your chances of being exposed to hazardous chemicals are 10-50 times higher in a carpeted room than outdoors. If the carpet is plush or shag, your risk increases substantially.


Laminate Wood Flooring

These contain a large amount of toxins also contained in products such as sealers, solvents and glues.