Health concerns with carpeting

The majority of flooring in the United States is carpeting. There have been some recent studies showing health concerns with carpeting, let’s review these concerns today.

A new study by the Ecology Center (EC), Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), and Changing Markets Foundation (CM) showed toxic substances in all 12 of the carpets tested. The manufacturers include,  Engineered Flooring (J+J), Interface, Milliken, Mohawk, Shaw and Tandus Centiva (Tarkett).

“The toxic chemicals detected have been linked to cancer, hormone disruption, respiratory disease, heart attacks, strokes, asthma, and immune and developmental health problems in children.” YIKES!

“The report Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in half of all carpet samples tested (6 out of 12). Exposure to PFAS chemicals is associated with cancer, hormone disruption, obesity, developmental disorders, and other adverse health effects.”

Phthalates which are used as plasticizers were also found in the the carpets. Unfortunately, they can make their way into the air. Phthalate exposure has been linked to hormone disruption and adverse developmental effects in children, including reproductive and neurobehavioral impacts.”

Carpeting alternatives

Carpeting may softer on the feet but  it holds on to dirt and dust which increase chemical exposure. I did a post on the importance of dusting your home.

Consider natural hardwood floors.

If you must have carpet then look for carpets that have fewer and non-toxic dyes and protective finishes. The carpet backing also contains chemicals, look for backing made from jute.

essential oils for sensitive skin

Health concerns with carpeting -Carpet components


Some carpets are made from synthetic fibers such as polyester, nylon, and rayon.

Natural fibers often include wool, silk, cotton, and linen. These options generally contain less chemicals.

Dyes are usually used on the fibers.

Padding is usually made from polyurethane foam which is a derivative of petroleum. Prolonged exposure to petroleum-based chemicals including formaldehyde, benzene and toluene may affect the nervous and immune system. There has also been associations with  cancer, neurological disorders, autoimmune weakness, asthma and allergies, infertility, miscarriage and child behavior disorders.

The carpeting is usually treated to make it more stain resistant and flame retardants. The most common fire retardant is pentaBDE, a toxin associated with hyperactivity and behavioral problems.

Glues and adhesives

Adhesives can contain volatile organic compounds. New carpet installation also has been associated with wheezing and coughing in babies in their first year of life.

Request that the carpet be unrolled and aired out prior to installation.

Request that the adhesives are non-toxic and low volatile organic compounds.

Health concerns with carpeting

Carpet holds onto dirt and dust.

According to the American Lung Association,

“Carpets may trap pollutants like dust mites, pet dander, cockroach allergens, particle pollution, lead, mold spores, pesticides, dirt and dust. Toxic gases in the air can stick to small particles that settle into carpets.” These pollutants may become airborne during renovations, vacuuming or even daily activities like walking on the carpet.”

Bans have been placed on childrens toys but there are no bans on carpeting. Unfortunately, children crawl and play on the floor. .

Health Concerns With Carpets

Carpet odors

Carpets can harbor dirt, allergens and moisture. Use carpet cleaners that are non-toxic. Baking soda with a few drops of essential oil from a reputable company is a safer way to go than using air fresheners or carpet deodorizers that have phthalates in them.

Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to decrease dust from floating in the air while vacuuming.

Persistent odors may require steam cleaning. Ensure the room is ventilated and a dehumidifier is used to ensure proper drying of carpeting prior to avoid mold growth.

Remove your shoes at the door to minimize the amount of pesticides and germs you bring into your home. I did a post on the importance on show removal.


Healthy Building Network
Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives
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