Healthy Carpets for Healthy Homes

The benefits of carpet go beyond plush underfoot comfort and adding a warm feeling to a room. Carpeting also provides many health and safety advantages, such as trapping dust, pollen, and other potentially dangerous particles, preventing them from escaping into the air and being inhaled. In addition, properly maintained and clean carpet acts as an air filter to improve indoor air quality in the homes of people with respiratory conditions like asthma.

Dirty carpets can actually promote the growth of unhealthy bacteria such as mold, mildew and dust mites which release spores that can trigger skin irritation and breathing issues such as bronchitis or even pneumonia. The good news is that keeping your carpets clean will minimize the potential for these fungi to grow as they thrive in dark, moist environments where they are often found.

When choosing non toxic carpet, look forĀ Healthy Carpets a green label or a GREENGUARD certification to be sure your carpet is free of toxins. This will help ensure that your carpet is free of flame retardants, water and stain repellents (like Stainmaster or Scotchgard) that contain perfluorinated chemicals, or PFCs, which are linked to health concerns like hormone disruption, pregnancy-related problems, and cancer.

If possible, opt for natural fibers like jute, seagrass or sisal. These are biodegradable and typically have neutral colors that will mask dirt better than a traditional nylon carpet. They are also very durable and can be quite inexpensive. If you need a little extra protection, choose a low pile option or a carpet that is braided as these will tend to show wear and tear less than conventional high pile carpets.

Other things to watch out for are the chemicals used to treat your carpets, such as antimicrobials (like triclosan), mothproofing agents (like methyl bromide), and the flame retardants that are added to almost all conventional carpet. Also watch out for the carpet pad, which is typically made of foam scraps and bound together with adhesives that can off gas VOCs. In particular, try to find a carpet that is free of styrene butadien rubber, which offgasses styrene and butadiene, both of which are respiratory irritants. Another issue with most carpet padding is that it can offgas formaldehyde, which is a carcinogen and may react with other chemicals to form a compound called 4-PCH which has been linked to cancer, nerve damage, rashes, and eye irritation. Choose a padding that is free of these toxins or use foam block underlay instead.