Fall 2018 Update: The original version of this post, first published in 2010, has been one of the most popular pages on our site for almost a decade. We’re updating it now with some new information, but perhaps the most important update is that there isn’t much new information out there. After months of researching it’s clear to us that the carpet industry is doing a great job at keeping this information in the dark and away from concerned consumers. While we wish we could recommend surefire solutions to this pervasive issue, we can’t. This post is up to date as of September 2018, and we will update it periodically if we find new information. Until then, be a conscious consumer by using the tools below, and don’t hesitate to contact companies and demand answers about harmful toxic chemicals in their products!
My new carpet is off-gassing, and I’m dizzy and nauseous from the fumes. How long does this last? What can I do? Is my landlord obligated to do anything?
Also, I need a new mattress. After this experience with the carpet, I wonder what I should do, because I’ve heard they can off-gas, too. Can you tell me which products and materials to avoid and how to assess their health impacts? ‘Healthier’ products are often out of my price range.
—Suffering in Oakland
Dear Suffering in Oakland,
Yikes! You’re right, you’re definitely experiencing the effects of off-gassing. Off-gassing, sometimes called out-gassing, is the gaseous release of chemicals from a material. Furniture, plastics, vinyl products, paint, new cars, clothing, cosmetics, plastic water bottles, carpet, and mattresses do it, to name just a few. Off-gassing materials emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and small particulate substances throughout the life of the material. This can cause many of the symptoms you’re experiencing including headaches, nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, and asthmatic reactions. Longer-term effects are also possible; some chemicals are strongly linked to leukemia and lymphomas, cognitive impairment and hearing loss, among other conditions.
While each of us reacts differently to toxic materials, it’s important to be cautious and be conscientious consumers.
To find out more about the connections between chemicals and human health, take a look at the searchable Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE) Toxicant and Disease Database. CHE points out that more than 82,000 chemicals have been developed, distributed, and discarded into the environment over the past fifty years. Only about 200 are fully tested for toxic effects in humans or animals, and many are common in our air, water, food, homes, workplaces, and communities. As is the case with carpets, even some of the few that are determined toxic to human health are still in everyday products in the marketplace.
Now, onto solutions: while we have yet to find a silver bullet for avoiding toxic carpets, a good number of “better” options are available today.
Carpets can emit VOCs for five years or possibly more, as carpet has been reported to release toxics like PFAS over time with “routine wear and tear.” Synthetic carpets are made from nylon fibers with a polypropylene backing, releasing over 40 chemicals including styrene and 4-phenylcyclohexane (4-PC), both of which come from the latex backing used on 95 percent of carpets. The “new carpet” odor is the 4-PC off-gassing, which can cause eye and respiratory tract irritation and may also affect the central nervous system. The adhesive used to affix the carpet to the floor typically contains benzene and toluene, some of the most harmful VOCs. We’ve contacted various entities including the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) asking about the details on chemicals in adhesives, but have not heard back. For all the detail you could ever need about toxics in carpeting, see this report by the Healthy Building Network.
You’ve probably already found the advice of the EPA, which is to ventilate the carpeted area well for at least 72 hours after installation by opening windows and using fans that move air directly to the outdoors.They also recommend to use fans during installation and for several weeks afterward. We’ve found conflicting information on the effectiveness of HEPA filter vacuums and other cleanings methods, so we don’t recommend that as a complete solution. Beyond that preliminary advice, that may not make a big impact over time, there are a couple options: a) lose the carpet, or b) spring for a more expensive, healthier option if you must have carpets/rugs.
- When there’s a choice, the best alternative is to rip out wall-to-wall carpet and remove synthetic area rugs. Make sure you hire professionals for carpet removal, as chemicals will be dislodged during this project that could trigger your symptoms. Even the best wall-to-wall carpet is a haven for dust mites, mold spores, and lingering VOCs.
- If you can’t get rid of carpet completely, opt for a natural fiber carpet or area rug such as wool, with a natural backing like jute. Other natural fiber materials include bamboo, cork, sisal, coir, seagrass, and more. Pick carpet that doesn’t need adhesive (can be tacked down or screwed/nailed down), or opt for natural fiber area rugs.
In addition, make sure that the area rugs or carpets you choose:
- Have been tested for VOC emissions under the CRI IAQ Green Label Plus testing program (note: we’ve tried to get information from CRI about this how prevalent this label is, and if it only applies to US-made carpets, but have not heard back).
- Can be easily cleaned and maintained with fragrance free carpet shampoos
- Have not been through chemical treatments such as permanent stain resistance, mothproofing, and antimicrobial agents such as fungicides and mildewcides.
- Are constructed to prevent liquids from penetrating the backing layer where moisture under the carpet can result in mold growth (avoid moisture repellant/resistant chemicals).
- Can be easily removed without the use of toxic chemicals (for dislodging adhesives, etc.)
- Have been unrolled and aired out in a clean, dry warehouse before bringing them into your building. (You can ask installers for this – it is called ‘warehousing’ a carpet).
- Are not made of recycled synthetic materials. Sounds green, but isn’t a guarantee against toxics!
- Have GoodWeave or other child-labor-free certification.
Use this Environmental Working Group guide to help you find a healthier alternative to toxic carpets and flooring. The healthier choice can be more expensive, but those with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS), asthma, respiratory problems, and environmental illnesses, as well as those with young children, may find it necessary. Don’t forget to vacuum and change furnace filters often, and to quickly dry carpet if it gets wet.
The EPA recommends (and we do too!) consumers like you to ask manufacturers for certification on environmental claims. They say “certain independent organizations provide testing and auditing services related to environmental standards and other environmental claims, such as recycled content and emissions data. In the absence of independent certification, ask for formal statements signed by senior company officials.” This can really help put the pressure on producers to give us the information we need!
Since you’re a renter, the burden will likely be on you to find and present these healthier options to your landlord, who might be willing to make a change if they are willing to work with the cost and procurement process. Unless there are issues with mold or other infestations, you are likely responsible. Contact your city renters’/tenants’ rights hotline for more information, as landlord responsibility can vary by city.
Now, about that mattress. While many flame retardants in mattresses were banned as of September 2017, there still may be new mattresses out there with these chemicals. Most standard mattresses are made of polyurethane foam, which can emit toluene and are treated with water-, stain-, and wrinkle-resistant chemicals such as formaldehyde. In California, flame retardants may contribute the biggest chemical load. Furniture and mattress manufacturers began using polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs, as flame retardants in the 1980s, and this group of highly toxic chemicals became the standard. PBDEs can cause permanent neurological and developmental damage including deficits in learning, memory and hearing, changes in behavior, and delays in sensory-motor development. They are especially dangerous to children, because they accumulate in fatty tissue and are passed on in breast milk.
When looking for a mattress, we recommend purchasing a new one when possible, using this EWG guide. Options include chemical-free wool, organic cotton, and natural latex mattresses. Most natural mattresses cost about the same as a high-end synthetic mattress and box spring; a queen size organic cotton mattress will run around $1,500. Lower price healthier mattresses made of organic cotton or wool can be less than $1000. Wool futon mattresses last a long time and can be a good investment. Buying an organic cotton or wool mattress barrier pad can also help cut the toxins for those of us needing a lower-cost option. As for used mattresses: we;re not certain that used mattresses have stopped off- gassing, and they still may expose you to various chemicals including the flame retardants mentioned above. For this reason we recommend new mattresses or mattress barrier pads.
A few final thoughts on minimizing your exposure to VOCs and other toxics: ask questions and do your research. Purchase as simple a product as possible, with fewer treatments, fewer processes, and fewer ingredients. Don’t forget that other products like cars, shower curtains, baby furniture/strollers, upholstery, and more also have common toxic chemicals to avoid, like polyvinyl chloride. To learn more, rely on reputable groups like Environmental Working Group, Healthy Building Network, Children’s Environmental Health Network, the Collaborative on Health and the Environment, and our helpdesk!
Industry doesn’t make it easy to find out what their products are capable of, so we have to demand information and action!
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any further questions about this or other sustainability/environmental issues.
Photo credit: Maximus 221 via Flickr
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Thanks Laura. I should have used the term vinyl flooring. Thanks for the correction. -Beck
I have been looking for a non-toxic flooring for the bedroom in a house I am moving into. One of the largest carpet manufacturers, Mohawk, claims that their Smart Strand with Dupont Sonora is made of 37% corn sugar and that is has no formaldehyde and is “low VOC,” but it is very difficult to get specific information out of them unless you go through one of their distributors. This makes me suspicious that their product may not really be as “green” as they advertise. Can you share any info on this?
Also, I would like to see a date on this article, as things are always changing, particularly in the development of “green” products.
If they made alpaca wool carpets without chemicals they would be perfect.
“I have been looking for a non-toxic flooring for the bedroom in a house I am moving into. One of the largest carpet manufacturers, Mohawk, claims that their Smart Strand with Dupont Sonora is made of 37% corn sugar and that is has no formaldehyde and is “low VOC,” but it is very difficult to get specific information out of them unless you go through one of their distributors. This makes me suspicious that their product may not really be as “green” as they advertise. Can you share any info on this?”
I am also looking for new carpet and was told that the Mohawk Sonora is the best option. I would be interested to see
what what you fond out on this as I am just starting my research. The carpet company advised that I read this website
for more info on the subject. It claims that carpet is one of “lowest emitters of VOCS in an indoor setting”. I am very
confused by this information.
see website here
Omg! That’s who made my carpet Mohawk…Keller installed and purchased it at Lowes.
The carpet is making me sick. What can I do? The smell had me sneezing, itching, stuffed and blowing my nose since 2-14-2022 al.ost immediately after the guys started the install.
The same exact reaction occurred 2 years ago (and that JUST CLEARED up in April 2021) when
Keller guys installed carpet in my bedroom.
My ENT Doctor and I couldn’t figure it out (back then); what was causing these horrible headaches, but now, –IT’S CLEAR! The same symptoms are back! Except WORSE!!!!
They installed 1300+ of carpet n the only relief if outdoors.
This smell is toxic and strong for me. NO ONE EVER MENTIONED that this carpet could cause such a horrible reaction; severe headaches a d throbbed and aching pain around my ears neck and under my chin. That should be “disclosed to the customers” BEFORE they purchase carpet.
Now, I’m suffering Ike crazy. My eyes are burning, OMG this is awful.
What should I do?
Keller called this morning saying this isn’t our fault…call Lowes. They won’t pick up at the store 😒 so stressful.
I had a carpet installed by Costco in June. It is now November and I still can’t be in that room. It gives me a crashing headache. I bought a Bluair air purifier that registers ( and supposedly removes) VOCs. It’s still showing VOC emissions. I didn’t know about VOCs when buying this carpet and am wondering whether to have it replaced since the smell doesn’t seem to be improving. I have multiple chemical sensitivities and wish I had known about this in carpets sooner! Dismayed in Philadelphia.
What did you do I’m in the exact situation but also have a baby now…
Thanks for your question about selecting non-toxic flooring. The article you are referring to on carpet off-gassing originally appeared in the Spring 2009 issue of Terrain. We can provide some additional thoughts on the matter:
There is a non-profit organization in Oakland called Build It Green (BIG) which provides a great deal of information on its website, including a green building product directory, an Ask An Expert feature, and many fact sheets, including one titled “Carpet”: http://www.builditgreen.org/build-it-green-fact-sheets/
In BIG’s fact sheet, they suggest looking for these features in “Greener” Carpets: Natural fibers, Low VOCs, Natural stain resistance, Natural jute backing, Lower offgassing of toxic chemicals, Made with recycled content.
The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) referred to in the fact sheet offers a Green Label Plus Program. Carpets that have met their certification requirements can be found on their website by searching their “Find Green Label and Green Label Plus Products” menu: http://www.carpet-rug.org/commercial-customers/green-building-and-the-environment/green-label-plus/carpet-and-adhesive.cfm
The Green Label testing is designed to identify “carpet with very low emissions of VOCs to help improve indoor air quality.” Carpet emissions are tested for the following chemicals: Acetaldehyde; Benzene; Caprolactam; 2-Ethylhexanoic Acid; Formaldehyde; 1-Methyl-2-Pyrrolidinone; Naphthalene; Nonanal; Octanal; 4-Phenylcyclohexene; Styrene; Toluene; Vinyl Acetate. Carpets must be within the “maximum emission factors” of each of these chemicals. These maximum levels are listed in a chart downloadable from the CRI website. They offer similar testing for adhesives used for carpet installation, and carpet cushions.
The BIG fact sheet also suggests the following practices for improving indoor air quality: consider minimizing the amount of carpeting in the home in favor of other options such as wood, bamboo, tile, cork, and natural linoleum. Look for carpets made from natural fibers such as wool, jute, sisal, coir, and seagrass, and that have not been through chemical treatments such as permanent stain resistance, mothproofing, and anti-microbial agents such as fungicides and mildewcides. Felt or jute padding is preferable to foamed plastic or synthetic rubber padding. Air out the carpet for as long as possible before installation. Vacuum carpets often. Use a walk-off mat in entry areas to reduce tracking of pollutants from outdoors.
If you do choose carpeting as your floor covering, here is some carpet installation advice from the book “Green Remodeling” by David Johnston: open all windows and set up an exhaust fan; close all vents; vacuum often; change furnace filters often; and consider staying out of the house for a few days after installation. Tack-down installation is preferable to glue-down. Use non-toxic, fragrance-free carpet shampoos for cleaning. If carpet gets wet, dry it out as quickly as possible to avoid microbial growth.
The book “Prescriptions for a Healthy House” by Paula Baker Laporte, et al, also suggests using tacking strips for carpet installation. These are nailed, screwed, or glued down around the perimeter of the room. If gluing, be sure to select a low- or no-VOC adhesive. If using wool carpeting, verify it has not been mothproofed. Choose a carpet with little or no odor. See if the carpet supplier will “warehouse” the carpet for you, unrolling it and airing it out before delivery. Carpeting with woven backing is preferable to rubberized backing. Use a vacuum cleaner with a High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter. Establish a no-shoes policy indoors to reduce tracking in pollutants from outdoors.
For further reading on selecting least-toxic textiles, The Healthy Building Network (HBN) and Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) have published a guide called “The Future of Fabric”. Although it is geared toward the health care industry, it contains a lot of useful information on the subject of healthier textile choices in general:
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I have bamboo flooring on top of cement. The bamboo was glued down. Is this glue a problem?
Do you know the brand or type of glue used? The toxicity of products can range quite a bit depending on ingredients used by the manufacturer. Do you have any further information about the glue?
Be careful of linseed oil also, some of us that are sensitive have natural and man made oil reactions. I bought furniture for gazebo and treated in fall with it. and even though in shed over winter could not go near for the entire summer even with outside air. very frustrating, wound up painting. I wish paints would be available with little or no VOC like brands indoors. unfortunately not for outdoors. then add the darn cushion on top containing foams advised against. frustrating.
I have to correct myself on above article it was teak oil on the furniture not linseed, although I have linseed problems also.
You should check out milk paints for low VOC furniture paints and they can be used outdoors. This is the type of paint previously used to paint barns so it’s very durable and low VOC.
I have a very bad MCS problem and very sensitive to chemicals and fragrances.
Try using Mythic paint. They carry low and no VOC paints. Much more expensive than store brands. I was able to repaint my entire home with this even with MCS.
Have you tried any other low-VOC products? I’m thinking, specifically, of Safecoat. I used the paint and found it much better than standard water-based, but wonder how it compares to the Mythic brand you mentioned. Where do you purchase?
Hi, found a no voc non toxic paint that is safe. Not cheap, Repainted my house and I stopped coughing.Ecos paints,”Air Pure” is what I used..They will color to you specs….
Martha Stewarts paints have low voc’s
have you tried hers?
I need a bit of help also and I see this site is wonderful for green answers. I have been looking for a car for 7 yrs. now, since I traded a vehicle in and reacted to a 16,000 car. I was disorientated, wasn’t sure where I was. Light headed, unbalances my nose and eyes were blurred and burning in throat and lungs. I tried washing it out professionally thinking it was cleaning chemicals since this was my first reaction to a car. Didn’t work, realized it was the dash, seats, anything material within, covering didn’t help. my parents bought it from me and I got dad’s ’94 buick wagon. Since then I have run it to the ground. Test drove 23 cars so far. Rented about 8 cars, all reacted the same way to them. I don’t know what to do. Since older cars were crushed a few yrs. back and all the cars I tested were anywhere from 2000 up with the same reactions. I worry that now the wagon has 1,000s in in repairs and the body is rusting out, what will I do for transportation to anywhere. I heard certain volvos were allergy friendly and had passed many outgassing issues in sweden but I tried two of them and they didn’t work either.
Anyone have any suggestions??? I have tried, baking and airing, convertibles thinking better aired out, hot water washing the interiors a few times, covering with towels etc, none of those work, help
Hello Mary — There is an Ecology Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan (ecocenter.org) that is similar but not directly related to our Ecology Center here in Berkeley. They issue excellent information on new car smell and plastics in automotives in their “Guide to Chemicals in Cars”. Check out their site HealthyStuff.org as the best resource for answering your car/health questions. “Researchers tested more than 200 of the most popular 2011- and 2012-model vehicles for chemicals that off-gas from parts such as the steering wheel, dashboard, armrests and seats, in the ratings posted at HealthyStuff.org. These chemicals contribute to “new car smell” and a variety of acute and long-term health concerns…”
Consider trying an ozone machine to help with the toxic fumes.
I have the same problem with new car smells, but found that even older cars are not always very good either. Some cars never seem to stop off gassing. It might be worth a try to rent an ozone machine and turn it on in the car for a few hours (with a window open to make sure the ozone machine has plenty of oxygen to react to).
At a few car dealerships they were willing to put an ozone machine on in the cars overnight to see if that helped lessen the car odor and it did help, but not enough for any of the brand new cars that we tried.
We rented an ozone machine for our new-to-us (used 2009 Toyota Highlander) car that the previous owners had used fragrance packets in and it really helped. The smell in the Highlander was perfume, not plastic though.
When car hunting I noticed a huge difference among vehicles and found cars with leather seats to be less toxic smelling. Saabs and Volvos were really good on smell, but I’ve owned both and the repairs are expensive (and particularly frequent on the Saab).
Older Subarus and Toyotas (as long as they are at least 3-years-old) seem to be pretty good (with the exception of the Prius which is famous for an off gassing smell). They are also pretty reliable.
I found that all Saturn brand vehicles keep smelling like plastic fumes even if they are many years old.
I used to own a Mazda Miata with cloth seats and it had no odor – if you can get by with only 2 seats it’s pretty easy to find a used Miata on Craiglist from the early to mid 1990’s for not a lot of money and fairly low miles. Miatas are also reliable and not expensive to fix.
I am running into the same problem. When I find a car with an okay interior, it’s mechanically not good or the model doesn’t drive well. (Scion tcs have worked inside but they are awfully loud and bumpy to the point of intolerable.)
I’m stuck up the same creek. How to find transportation? Cars my mom’s used seem to work. Best we can figure is she drives for a few years with the windows down a lot.
I’ve looked at the list of tested cars. Will try cleaning out the one I just bought that I really can’t drive even one day, a Mazda3 from 2012. I suspect the carpet in it… (Does have leather seats too.)
I have suffered for years with Chemical/Environmental Allergies.
I purchase most of my cars from
Car Max Used Car Dealership.
I take my husband to help me eliminate the vehicles. He helps prevent me from getting symptoms such as; Asthma, or Shortness of breath, headaches, confusion, brain fog,etc.
I can not tolerate any Smoke, Perfumes,
New Car Smells, New plastic smells, even new plastic car mats.new carpets are the worst.
Also never purchase a car with new leather seats, no convertible tops
they also outgas.
I have found cars at least 5 years old work the best with only fabric interiors.
I hope this information helps.
I founf a converible was the best in a new car as I could leave it open when out and was not affected by fhe smell so much as when it was closed. Eventually the smell wore off.
Buy an ozone machine to get chemicals out of the car before you get in it. I did that to my car and have had no more problems feeling the chemicals, but if you are feeling them now you are chemically sensitive sorry I have had this since 1993 cannot seem to get rid of them out of my body. Do not stay in the car with the machine inside air it out after you have run it inside the car I did mine for 5 hours then aired 2 hours if it still smells of ozone keep the windows open.
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if someone is 5 months pregnant and has all organic furniture in the nursery and adds one that is low voc but not organic, does that cancel out the expensive organic baby furniture? and the carpet is at least 4 years old, has been green cleaned and we use a heap vacumn. How much off gassing is left, they say it is bad to rip out but is it worse to leave in the nursery in terms of emitting toxins? what about putting a green piece of carpet over it…will the offgassing still leak out?
you suggest ripping carpet out and using area rugs. but what about the flooring? doesn’t it probably have toxic glue, varnish, etc? what do you do about that? we have been told that if i am preganant we shouldnt rip out the carpet….what is best for my fetus and new baby. thanks so much!
If the carpet is not glued down it should be fine. You yourself would be better off not tearing out the carpet, but having someone (significant other or friend) do it for you poses no harm. Use a carpet knife to cut it in smaller strips so its easy to carry out. You will likely be shocked at how much dirt is under there even though you have a great vacumme.
If you don’t plan to replace the carpet with another type of flooring, make sure you check the sub-floor (concrete underneath) before destroying the carpet. If your home has settled and has a lot of cracks you won’t want to look at that. If the subfloors are bad you will have loose chunks of cement underneath and would need to get it repaired. If you have wood subfloors, that won’t apply obviously. 🙂
The room will be much cooler, your best bet is probably to have a flooring salesperson come out and give you some ideas and estimates. Most don’t charge for the service and there is no obligation. It’s much easier to assess with eyes on the project. Good luck!
My question is about used carpets being poaced on the bottom of a fish pond to help seal the pond from leaking through a sand layer. Do you know of any environmental problem with using carpet this way.
Thanks for any advice.
I mispelled a word in my email. The work “poaced” should have been PLACED.
We had new carpet installed the day after Christmas last year. Two months later (February) at a routine physical (I’m 36), my doc noted that my Red Blood Cell (RBC) was elevated above the normal range as well as my Hematocrit (ratio of RBC to total blood). These elevated numbers increase a likelihood of stroke because the blood is thicker and gooier. Got tested for the few dreaded kiss-of death issues and all came back clean. Drs. could not figure it out so they told me just to start giving blood regularly to reduce my blood #s. I steadily developed brain fog, headaches, neausea into May and my blood #s were still going up. I finally determined that my new carpet was off-gasing so much that it was acting like carbon monoxide poisoning causing my body to react by producing more red blood cells. Just Google Polycythemia. Had the new carpet removed in May and by August, my blood #s had returned to normal. I still struggle with mild symptoms that mimic allergies (head pressure, sinus, ear pressure) daily and my doc says it will take 6-8 months for my body to ‘clear out’ the gunk. Share my story please. New carpet can poison you.
Wow! I can relate to your story. I am going to an acupunture and massage school in Long Island and the place is run by tge most unconscious people. The carpet in 3 of the classrooms has made me so sick.
It is insane. This is supposed to be a ” holistic” enviornment.
Im so disgusted.
My carpet and pad is 3 years old. Nine months ago, I began having allergy issues such as scratchy throat and eyes with headaches. A couple of months later, a serious rash developed on my neck and has moved up to my throat and eyes and down to my shoulders. I had our vents cleaned, duct work sealed, and an aip purifier for my bedroom. So far, nothing (except cortisone cream) works. I am now thinking it’s the carpet and/or pad. I want to get rid of the carpet, but it is very costly. Is there no recourse on the carpet? It’s Mohawk, by the way
Purchased Cliffony area rug 8×10 from Lowe’s over a year and half ago. After owning the rug for about six months it started off gassing.During the summer when the air conditioner is cranking I don’t notice it but during the spring and fall when the windows and doors are open I can smell the rug when I walk in the room. I am going to have to toss it even though it cost 400 dollars. So, be careful with the suggestions of getting an area rug to soften a wood floor. That is exactly what I did. I can find no recalls or info on this rug. What a waste of money . (Beautiful and softest rug ever too!) But whoa! That stench….
So offgassing is intermittent? I ask because I bought a mattress that was advertised as HD foam with a latex topper. In the small print, the memory foam was disclosed. I kept an ozone machine on it for about 10 days and it smelled fine, but 3 or 4 days later, I realize that the stench is back. Any suggestions? Will the ozone kill off the VOC’s, or do I have to ditch the mattress?
Hi! I have been looking for somewhere to get some type of opinion on off gassing and flooring.. Hopefully someone here may have a little insight to share. My family and I are moving, the home we are moving into has laminate flooring that was installed four years ago. The previous homeowner doesn’t have any info on the floor and I’m a bit concerned about my sons who are one and three.. My question is, how long does off gassing remain a factor with a product like laminate flooring?
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Thanks for the article! We will be moving into a new home this summer. I am planning to ventilate the whole house for at least a few days, possibly a week, before we move in. The carpet and paint being used are not low voc. (Of course I didn’t think about it until after our selections were made) also, I’m pregnant as well, and have a toddler, hence being extra concerned about it. How long should I ventilate the house to allow for off-gassing?
I would get an ozone machine and use it in the whole house you see I am already chemical sensitive as I moved into a house painted and put carpet in . In 5 weeks I could not go back into the house. That was 1993 I have not lived a good day since then. I would get either wool or cotton rugs.
You see I just wanted warm feel.
I wanted to make a comment about these eco friendly carpets. About three years ago I researched them. Here are some links to articles about recycled carpeting.
NY Times – Recycled Carpet Padding http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/19/garden/tests-on-carpet-padding-show-toxins.html?_r=0
I have a lot of links I could share. The one I want, ,I cannot find. It talked about how recycled carpeting, i.e. low VOC “green” carpeting isn’t as healthy as people think. It said these recycled carpets are filled with a certain percentage, (I think, 30%?) of questionable materials. The recycled material they put into it is actually old carpeting from various sources that is shredded and put back into the new “green” carpeting. The article said you don’t know what the old recycled carpeting has in it. But by law they are allowed to say it is “Green”, when they add that percentage of shredded old carpeting to it..
I have no choice but to use HUD housing. I can’t work around chemicals, so I can’t work. The reason I found the now lost link with this info is because I was up for a HUD apartment. I can’t work so I have to rely on reduced rent housing. The manager said the apartment had brand new “green” carpeting, but it was so toxic it made me sick just to stand in it.
The manager said, “Oh, we aired it out for two weeks.” Okay, but, it was smelling to high heaven. I asked if they would allow me to buy my own carpeting to put in there. I thought maybe I could find a carpet store with old carpeting that had offgassed. No. They would not let me do that. Could I tear out the carpeting and pay for it over time? No. No. No. None of my ideas were accepted.
So they dropped me from their list after I had waited years to get in there. They said they could not hold a place for me until a unit with good, older carpeting came open. Had I been more savvy I would have filed for a reasonable accommodation with the state. People can do that, and they have to take into consideration disabilities. But I didn’t know that. So I drove back the 150 miles to the town where I lived. I was so disappointed.
I finally came up on the waitlist a year later for another place. It was so nice. They were very good about my allergies and waited until they had an apartment with nice older carpeting. They didn’t change it. Thank goodness. It had offgassed. But I made it very clear ahead of time I needed older carpeting and why. So that is an option for people. The upshot is the “green” carpeting made me as sick as the regular. Maybe not as much, but still it was bad. So I got wise and started asking for old carpeting. If you can find old carpeting somewhere, maybe you can put it in your house. But I think natural flooring is the best option.
Sounds like you may suffer from MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivities) if the flooring in the HUD apartment made you sick in just a few minutes. If you DO have MCS, that is a disability which is recognized by the ADA and Fair Housing Act. This means that you can request a “reasonable modification” of your unit (replacing the carpet with a non-toxic flooring such as tile) under the Fair Housing Act and your landlord MUST grant your request as long as the request is not a financial hardship to the landlord. Further, if the unit is in HUD housing which receives federal funding, the landlord MUST replace the flooring at its expense. Of course, you can always suggest you and the landlord split the costs. I would research the definition of a reasonable modification under Fair Housing law and make sure you can provide a doctor’s letter confirming you suffer from chemical sensitivities. While you are allowed to request a modification you must be able to connect your request to your disability, i.e. you cannot breathe when exposed to the current flooring in the unit.
Outgassing is a big issue with carpet and rug pad products. Very insightful article. An often overlooked issue for most consumers.
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Good day , could you please offer some insight on indoor /outdoor rugs that are made of using recycled plastic bags .
Do you think they would be still outgassing some chemicals ?
Appreciate any feedback
I would never buy carpets made from plastic just a way to get sick.
I recently took up all the carpet in my living room and decided to remodel the hardwood floors underneath. The contractor stained the floor and used a low VOC finisher. I have become gravely I’ll since doing this. I have burning nose, headaches, tightness in my chest and burning eyes. I am walking around my house with goggles and a facemask. Could someone tell me what I can do to alleviate this problem? I have the windows open and fans on. It’s been about 2 weeks already. How long would this outgassing last? Could an air purifier help? Thanks
Sorry to hear about this. It is hard to tell how long the major off gasing will last, but it will certainly keep emitting minor amounts for months still. The only thing I can think of that I know is able to shut odours out is shellac. I do not know your floors, but if they are hardwood, they might be able to take a coat of superblonde shellac. Ask a woodworking/hardwood flooring specialist. Shellac is thinned with pure alcohol, this smell only takes say 48 hours to clear (and it clears well, the alcohol evaporates), and if the problem is coming from the floor under the coating, it should seal in odors. Good luck! Bridget PS. I am not a specialist, but absolutely hate offgassing and have used shellac based finishes succesfully to seal in horrible chemical smells in various wood surfaces.
Get an ozone machine get rid of the chemicals that way.
I just bought an area rug for my hardwood floor. It is 8×13 and the smell is horrible. It is a brisk -11 (with wind chill -25) and we live on a lake, with a 7 month old, so opening the windows is really not an option. The fumes are overwhelming, and honestly, looking for a good alternative is too. That is why we opted to just go for this rug from home depot (convenient). I’m scared for my little guy having the breathe these VOC’s. I’m wondering how long this will last, and if it’s really a serious problem? Also any brands of good, safe area rugs? Should I keep him out of the living room? ( which would be a pain 🙁 but worth it for my baby) I mean I already have a slight headache and he’s so small.
Also, there is an area rug in my sons room, but has no smell. Does this mean it’s done off gassing? I hate to even have him playing on it.
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How long does it take a mattress to outgas all the chemicals?
I passed your question to my colleagues who run our environmental help desk here. This is what they had to say:
Unfortunately, there is no way to determine how long a mattress or any furniture takes to off-gas. Research from different studies find that it varies from a few weeks to months, to “it never stops.” The consensus is only that it gets better as time goes on. And mitigating the chemicals from off-gassing is difficult to do.
If someone were very concerned, the best thing to do would be to replace their existing mattress (be sure to properly dispose of the mattress at the local transfer station or mattress drop-off location). The Environmental Working Group helped published this post, which has helpful information about chemicals in bedding and mattresses: http://healthychild.org/your-guide-to-an-affordable-safer-bed-mattress/
Good luck with your mattress, please contact us again if you have any follow up questions.
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Another small but significant error: Toxins are metabolically produced poisons. So the synthetic toxicants, toxics, or toxic chemicals you refer to are not toxins. Thanks.
October 2015 – I recently had Lowe’s install Dupont Stainmaster’s “Pet Protect” carpeting in one bedroom of my home. My husband and I thought we were sneezing, blowing our noses, experiencing tearing eyes and coughing due to a reaction to the dust from all the furniture being moved. Two days later, our pet cat of 10 years was rushed to emergency with severe respiratory distress and was placed in an oxygen chamber. I believe this to be the direct result of the toxic carpet that was installed as our animal was healthy beforehand. Appropriate action will be taken.
We recently finished our walkout basement into a bachelor suite with luxury vinyl tile in the open area and ceramic tile in the bathroom. The vinyl tile had a sweet smell when installed and the space felt a bit stuffy despite having an excellent ventilation system. I seemed to be the only one who could detect an odour. The tiled bathroom had good air quality as per my perception. I moved into the suite late August and by early October I got acutely ill with fever, joint pain, Erthyma Nodosum, with hoarse throat and fatigue. A chest xray showed very swollen chest lymph nodes. I moved upstairs again. Symptoms improved mostly but I still get chest tightness with clavicle pain and ear ache when around strong smells and hanging around the basement suite too long. The vinyl flooring got removed and now the particleboard subfloor off gassing is very noticeable to me. Again, no one else seems to be affected by it. Prior to the vinyl being removed, an air quality specialist found that the suite had below par air quality. He inspected inside materials and the proper functioning of the exhaust system. Exhaust system all in order. Chemical testing of the air would be a waste of $ as I already know there is a problem as per my symptoms. Mold is not the issue. My challenge is to find the right replacement flooring. After much research, my gut tells me do heated tile to eliminate any off gassing. My issue – to convince my husband that the extra $$$ is worth it in the long run and that any other flooring material has the potential to off gas. The maintenance and potential for any sort of problems compared other flooring material will be greatly reduced by installing tile.
Thank you for this site – I appreciated every post as it confirms that there are others with severe chemical sensitivities. I hope my story is of help to someone else.
Many posts on this site refer to “toxins,” which are metabolically produced poisons such as snake venom. You mean toxics, toxicants, or toxic chemicals.
I just bought a new area rug from the Threshold brand at Target. We bought it because our floors are SO cold. I was looking at the back of it and it says 100% Supriva Nylon. I of course smell the off gassing. My husband likes the new smell and my son doesn’t smell anything. I don’t want to ALWAYS be the one to be worried about stuff and I feel like my husband will
Be furious if I get rid of it… And honestly, I don’t want to because it’s so pretty! Is Supriva nylon dangerous? We have a 3 year old.
I shared your post with my colleagues who staff our help desk here. This is what they have to say:
It’s quite possible that you detect the off-gassing fumes while other members of your household do not, as everyone varies. This is one of the reasons why detection of synthetic toxics in products is so difficult. If you would like to keep the area rug, we recommend placing the rug somewhere, ideally outdoors, so that it may air out and “off-gas” further. Its backing is likely the culprit of where odors/fumes are emitting from. You can view more information here, from the U.S. Green Building Council: http://greenhomeguide.com/askapro/question/what-type-of-carpet-or-manufacturer-of-carpet-produces-the-least-vocs
We hope this is useful, feel free to reply if you have follow up questions. -Leah
We got new nylon (pet resistant/stain master pad and carpet) a month ago.
The first night we all woke up with chest pressure pain-couldn’t breath in deep without coughing, and server body aches-our joints were hurting so bad.
We opened the house up and chalked it up to the off gasing of the new carpet. We felt bad all the next day like we had the flu. Two days later it went away. A week 1/2 later it happened again and then again last night.
We wake up with a hard time breathing in deep/tightness and short of breath with coughing, and body aches. If we, meaning my husband and son, all have the same exact systems.
I’m concerned and not sure if it’s just a coincidence with laying the new carpet. I would figure the off gasing would be done, or it just wouldn’t go and come three times in a month span. I’m thinking about getting my heater checked and also cleaning out my air ducts, plus maybe paying someone to come in and check the air quality in the house. I know it’s not carbon monoxide since I do have one of those alarms in the house.
Please what info you can give would be appreciated.
Hi Brandi, I shared your question with my colleagues who staff our help desk here. This is what they have to say:
Your family’s symptoms could be due to installation of the carpeting. We do not recommend the purchase of stain-resistant carpeting as this means an increased number of synthetic chemicals are used to treat the fibers, thereby also increasing the amount of potential toxics. If you would like to keep the wall-to-wall carpeting, we recommend mitigating its effects by allowing it to air out (e.g. opening windows and doors whenever possible). Off-gassing from carpeting can continue for several years or more, and the worst is generally off loaded in the beginning years of the product use so that is the best time to take actions. We recommend visiting this resource for further information on your best course of action: http://www.carpet-rug.org/Carpet-for-the-Home/Installation-Tips.aspx Also, please feel free to get in touch, by email, with our help desk at email@example.com
Best wishes for you & your family, -Leah
Having been in the property management business for many years I have replaced a lot of carpet. Done right, carpet is not glued down. It is installed over a pad. The pad is not glued down (Enough glue to glue carpet/pad down in a house would be very expensive). The pad is cut to fit and seams are taped with masking tape. Carpet seams are held together with carpet tape. Good installers will use a tape that is heated to make it bond.
Carpet sold in the U.S. has very low VOC. There is NO formaldehyde! Formaldehyde has NOT been used in carpet in the U.S. since 1978!
Carpet is a very simple product. There is face yarn (which is commonly wool, nylon, polyester, or polypropylene (olefin); then there is the backing material (polypropylene or jute); and then there is glue. The glue is latex based for flexibility and adheres the face yarn to the backing. Furthermore, the latex used in carpet manufacture is synthetic latex, not natural latex.
If you do not like smells, then I suggest you stay away from new cars. Way more VOCs then carpet.
It’s true that installing a rug without glue is important in reducing exposure to VOCs.
However, a lot of the people posting here have real reactions to synthetic carpet. I am one of those people. The off-gassing smell is not just from glue applied during installation. I have bought large area rugs and also experienced the “off-gassing” from those rugs. VOCs can include highly toxic chemicals such as facetaldehyde, along with benzene, toluene, perchloroethylene, and more. In the short term, such as immediately after new carpeting is installed, VOCs may cause headaches, nausea, and nerve problems, along with irritation to your eyes, nose, and throat.
I’d like to know your opinion about or other people’s experience with carpet tiles from the company FLOR. I believe no adhesive is required and they are supposed certified to be low VOC.
I live in an apartment. The owners put new carpet in a couple years later. I have a silky terrier that NEVER chewed carpet but since this carpet was put in, she goes through spells of chewing at it. My vet thinks its just an age issue since after a thorough exam he found nothing. What is in the carpet that did this? Has it caused a mental illness? What kind? I need help desperately cause I am afraid she will hurt herself. Please reply to my email address… thanks.
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Are there any viable air purification systems that can neutralize the off-gassing of a nw carpet?
Thanks for your question. This is a complex one, here’s what my colleague who researched it has to say:
The best way to stop off-gassing is to first remove the source from your breathing space. If you can’t remove the carpet, the next best thing I can suggest is to keep the area ventilated to the highest level possible. Open doors and windows and use exhaust fans. Ventilation is the only solution for off-gassing, short of removing the source, that is proven to be effective. For air purifiers, it is very hard to determine truth to manufacturers’ claims. You may wish to consult this website, but I can’t vouch for who is writing or the veracity of this information. The air purifiers they recommend are at the bottom of the page, and start around $400: http://www.air-purifier-power.com/formaldehyderemovalpurifiers.html
We hope this helps, please feel free to reach our Info Desk if you have follow up questions: https://ecologycenter.org/information/
I am a vinyl floor layer for over 50 years and I have been informed I have leukemia, over the years the glues I use have a very strong smell and people around always say that’s Avery strong smell and walk away, the work I do is mainly coving the sheet vinyl up the walls so the glue I use is contact glue and I have been breathing it in for over 50 years, yes I know you should wear mask but most floor layers don’t so we use a fan and blow the smell away,so now I can not work and live with this as lone as I can
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Very well done article! I ran across this while doing research for a Sustainability and the Built Environment class at my college. Keep up the good work!
Great information! However, for me it stopped short. The renovations and new carpet in my office are killing me! Headaches, shortness of breath, nausea, skin itching, etc. etc. etc. There are no windows in the suite where my office is located. What can I do? Is there a safe air purifier that doesn’t emit ozone or other dangerous chemicals that I can use to eliminate the off gassing. PLEASE HELP!!!
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AFM Products makes a very effective carpet sealant, completely nontoxic that puts an end to outgassing. I have used it and found it very effective. They also make NO VOC paint that is wonderful.
Where can I get /buy AFM Products ?
AFM sealers that block off gassing can only be used on synthetic rugs and carpets. They can’t, for some reason, be used on wool carpets and there’s the irony: it’s WOOL carpets in my experience (the “hand tufted kind) that are backed with latex which sometimes emits absolutely horrible odors when new.
What kind of protection does something that is “Greenguard Certified provide?
You can find more details on GreenGuard certification here: http://greenguard.org/en/certificationprograms.aspx
I read this piece of writing fully on the topic of the difference
of newest and earlier technologies, it’s amazing article.
What a minefield ! I have been aware there is a problem for many years and buy Ecos paint but the carpet is a headache ! I have an old pale beige fitted wool carpet which needs replacing due to carpet moth which of course I dont spray !
I am a strictly no chemical person but its almost impossible to avoid toxic chemicals in our environment . However ! I took up all our fitted old carpets which were there when we bought the house and were full of carpet moth and put down used wool
oriental rugs on the bare boards . Painted living room boards white with Ecos paint. I am in the UK and its even more difficult here to find non toxic carpets mattresses etc. My husband thought I was a nutcase and most people know nothing about the dangers
I posted a comment but it disappeared !
Just to relate my experience with carpet moth eaten carpets which I took up and left the bare boards with wool old oriental rugs down hopefully non toxic but watching out for carpet moth . I will never buy new chemical laden fitted carpets again. You only have to go in to a carpet store and the smell knocks you back . I am so sorry for the folks who have to work there> Why is this allowed in this day and age of information ? People are so ignorant and trusting of the goods available .
Its a minefield out there with profit the only thing that counts. Monsanto rules OK!
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Hi, I have wooden flooring on top of cement. The wood was glued down. Is this glue a problem?
I have these black pieces in my whole carpet, they now have starting eating paint chips. my clothes, I have a burn on my buttocks and whenI go to bed they go under the tape to get to it. Since the extermator said he found know bug the complex said they will do nothing to help me. They are all over now and they look like fibers. I am 67 years old and not have the greatest health so there is much I can do. I have to sleep on my couch because they don’t care for that material yet. I stay up to 4-5am because I know that thet go on you. Could you please help me or referred me to someone who can. I have to sign my lease since I have know where else to go and can’t effort it. Thank you for your time and effort. Ann Maria Butcher
Sorry to hear about this issue. If you are a renter, contacting your city’s tenants/renters’ rights phone line would be a good next step. In Berkeley, you can call 510-981-RENT (7368). They may help you figure out how to get the complex to assist you in removing the pests. Also, please get in touch with Senior Support services – you should be able to call 311 and get connected to the right people. They might have resoureces that can help you as well. If you have further questions or need more help, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
-Minna, Ecology Center Staff
Great article, thanks for sharing! If your carpet are off-gassing it’s a major red flag you should not ignore. The tips you’ve mentioned here are very useful and everyone should avoid making mistakes with carpet cleaning like mentioned here.
I had my basement flood after a really bad rain storm and of course it was well carpeted!
So i was trying to decide whether i should remove it and replace it. Or should i maybe rip it up and dry it out maybe try to clean it? i dont know maybe its not worth it .
Great article discussing off-gassing carpets and mattresses. Very informative, thanks.
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I live in a duplex townhouse. The people next door put in brand new cheap carpeting throughout their unit. Our bedrooms share a party wall that is not brick, but about 18 inches wide with studs and airspace. Ever since they put in their new carpeting, I have had started getting daily terrible migraines (10 mos.)!!! Is it possible for carpeting offgassing to permeate drywall? I am very chemically sensitive and have no carpeting in my unit. I previously lived in the unit for 5 years with no problem. I am EXTREMELY sensitive and on disability. I tell you this because I am so much more sensitive than 99% of the population. Could this carpet off gassing get into my unit?
There is a possibility that the offgassing from their carpet is causing migraines, but it is hard to be sure. There can be other products as well that your neighbors might be using that are causing issues. If this is a rental, you can try contacting your local Tenant’s Rights Org/Division of the city to see what can be done. Another option is contacting disability rights organizations who might be able to help you come to an agreement with the neighbors to remove or reduce the carpet.
I am not a certified industrial hygienist or professional indoor air quality expert, but from my own experience, VOCs can definitely migrate from one unit to another, especially in older construction multi-unit buildings. I currently live in a 30-unit apartment building on the top (3rd) floor. My chemical sensitivities make me able to notice when primer paint is being applied to apartments adjacent to and especially below my apartment as the VOCs infiltrate my living space. So don’t think you’re nuts — your symptoms could very well be from the carpet. The VOCs might be getting into your unit thru the floor moulding or if no moulding, where the wall meets the floor. Tub reglazing products are extremely toxic and their VOCs come in my apartment from adjacent units. I always confirm with the office if a unit near mine is having the tub reglazed and I’ve never been wrong – the reglazing has always been confirmed by management.
Great post. Thanks for sharing this informative post.
I am extremely sensitive to chemicals including those in most carpets. Since I am a renter and must deal with this, the cheapest and least stressful way to live with off-gassing carpet is to place 6 ml painters plastic over every inch of the carpet. That will prevent the VOCs from continuing to fill the indoor living environment. My experience has taught me that it takes 3 months for the VOCs to be eliminated. I just keep the plastic on the carpet during my tenancy and pull it up when I leave. Its amazing how quickly the VOCs return once the plastic is removed.
My new carpet is giving of a urine like smell. Is this a result of off-gassing?
We doubt that what you are smelling is due to off-gassing plastic or adhesive. Usually, you would be aware of a much more synthetic smell. If it is truly urine, it may be that your new carpet was stored in a facility with cats or even rats. That it is probably not a synthetic material smell, but possible of an organic origin.
Have you tried to shampoo the smell out ? You might try dusting a bit of baking powder on the area of odor. Don’t walk on that area, and then vacuum it up, a day later.
When the weather gets milder, open up the room to outside air and turn on fans to help remove the smell. If it is some synthetic smell, it may take many months to dissipate, if at all.
Let us know if you have any additional questions.
Ecology Center Helpdesk
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Wow… I just searched this topic and found this article… I recently moved into a place that had new carpeting and painting done. They finished the day before arriving. I can’t stand the smell anymore. It’s making me not want to breathe the air… it smells almost chemical/smoky like. Like when you go to breathe in but your body wants to not let you because it’s so bad. I feel like complaining to the landlord. It’s a huge complex in CA. After reading this, you would think they wouldn’t use toxic stuff in this state as you can see epa and health warnings almost everywhere you go. Not sure I can do this much longer as it’s effecting me all day.
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I am looking at wall to wall use with FLOR carpet tiles. I seen above in your article you mention not using recycled synthetic material. Which I believe Flor tile is recycled plastic. I am using an area rug of the squares in dinning area, but concerned with using wall to wall and with pets and baby on floor if the Flor carpet tiles could off gas, I am told that they are a green option and green stores did cary them now mostly sold on line or in a FLOR store itself.
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Thanks for writing helpful article on carpets.
We moved into a house with new carpet and it STILL stinks 9 months later. It’s kicked me over into autoimmune thyroid disease and I’m pretty sure mcs as well. So hard to deal with when it’s not your house and moving isn’t an option.
Thanks for sharing this info!
Thanks for this
If I have had carpet for 10 years, is it still dangerous? I’m most concerned about my dog. What can I do to lessen the toxins without ripping the carpeting out, as it is on an unfinished attic floor. Thank you.
We installed Masland carpet with the stain master treatment over a year ago. The company claims a CRI rating and low VOC emissions, yet the carpet has been so smelly that you cannot go into the rooms where it is installed and we have had to seal the doors and all vents in those rooms. It causes your eyes and throat to burn, severe coughing, and searing pain in your lungs when you breathe. After a few hours, you become dizzy, nauseated, and have trouble thinking. It has been ventilated for over 3 months straight with no improvement, and the excess carpet that has been steam cleaned for good measure even smells up the somewhat ventilated garage where it is stored. We now have to rip out the carpet and install vinyl, which will cost around 10k. The Masland company stands by their report that this is normal new carpet smell after inspection, despite these dramatic and invasive health effects experienced by more than one person. They will not return my contacts when I ask about this specific model/style of carpet, and it has disappeared off their website since our purchase. Meanwhile, we are out 5k for the carpet + install and 10k to remove and install vinyl in place of the Masland carpet.
Has anyone else had trouble with Masland carpet or their stain master treatment? I’m not sure how to get all of the stink out of the subfloor before they lay the vinyl down after removal. Should it be ventilated for a day or two before they put down any subfloor leveling cement or vinyl?
Carpet is Off Gassing is amazing. I Ask EcoTeam Thanku so much share this artice..
Thanks for sharing a useful write-up with us.
Thanks for sharing this useful piece of content.
Thanks for sharing these useful tips with us. 🙂
Good points and tips 🙂 Thanks for sharing
So I was a storeman for 5 years for a carpet company none of these dangerous sounding problems were told or mentioned to me and I was around 100s of rolls of carpet taking my exposure to the extreme. Were what can I do haven’t noticed any symptoms
I think when it’s all rolled up in the store it’s not a problem. The problem is when it’s unrolled and layed out in the house that’s the problem.
Useful information you have shared with us . Thanks for sharing this!
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Thanks for sharing this informative post.
Hi! I just moved out of a rental property because myself and my cat after just 3 weeks were very ill and still having issues. The landlord put an indoor/outdoor carpet in their condo unit. It was awful 😢 the symptoms were beyond anything I’ve ever experienced in my life. After a month of leaving the property we’re still having issues and I’m unable to find a doctor who is willing and cares enough to do testing on me to find out what exactly we were exposed to. Can I have the carpet tested? And are there specific tests for humans? Thanks so much!
InformativePost you have shared with us! Thanks
Does professional carpet cleaning off gas Voc’s? If so how long does it off gas?
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The carpet that I bought from Carpet Right had a nasty smell which lasted for 3 months. I haven’t been able to sleep in my bedroom where the carpet was laid due to the smell. After an ongoing saga with them, this is the report I recieved from the carpet suppliers, the Weavers Association.
I’d like to get some other opinions on this. Please let me know if you agree with the below.
From: Associated Weavers.
Subject: RE: Supplier Authorisation
It is not a simple thing that we can just inspect or test.
The smell will either not be the carpet at all, or it will be the bog-standard new carpet smell that when the inspector goes round will confirm that it has lessened to the point of no fault.
There is no test that can be done to sooth the consumer, because all the tests are carried out before the carpet is even approved to be sold on the UK or EU markets by the Health and Safety side of the UK Trading Standards and the EU equivalent.
Below is the full detail about how our carpets are made safe and other relevant to read and digest.
Consumers are required to accept the approval of the UK Trading Standards which also get the same approval once they pass the independent tests.
The chemicals that the consumer is concerned about are called Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs. They recently (Sept-Dec 2022) got a slew of sensational journalism on them, recounting 20 years ago when lino flooring held a chemical that reacted to UV light. This chemical released as an air particle that caused severe asthma in children. This was a disastrous situation, and the health implications are still felt today.
Since the chemical was identified, it is illegal to use it in a domestic setting. All flooring (not just carpets) is subject to the Health and Safety rules that demand only known chemicals are used in manufacturing so that this situation never happens again. The UK no longer has to adhere to the EU regulations, but as Associated Weavers is a Belgium company, we do still adhere to these up-to-date
rules as well as the UK’s.
Not only that, as a direct result of the damage done 20 years ago, Germany created the GUT organisation to test chemicals under as many tests as possible to investigate if chemicals currently used could potentially change or cause health issues as it did 20 years ago. This is not a required standard, it is an ‘opt-in’ organisation who submits their findings to the EU Health & Safety board for
review. If this board considers their suggestions have significant enough implications, those regulations will adjust, but until then the GUT is merely suggesting ways to improve safety based off their tests.
Associated Weavers has agreed to ‘opt-in’ to the GUT’s volunteer higher standard without any requirement to do so. Our products adhere to every safety recommendation that the GUT decides and to continue to receive their stamp of approval must change or adhere to any adjustments they suggest.
The ‘new carpet smell’ is not a VOC. It is no different from a ‘new car smell’ just unfortunately doesn’t have the same marketing. There are more VOCs a consumer’s deodorant than in the ‘new carpet smell’.
Associated Weavers carpets cannot currently get any more inert/safe, as in, there is no current ability to reduce their chemical signature than what we already have done.
To my knowledge Associated Weavers is the only manufacturer in the UK that adheres to this volunteer higher standard rather than the minimum requirement of the UK or EU standards.
There is no such thing as a ‘carpet allergy’ only allergies to what is in the carpet. (Dust, dust mite leavings, etc)
Phe consumer’s fear of there being ‘dangerous chemicals’ in their carpet is unfounded and except for pointing to the myriad of tests, regulations, and hoops, both volunteer and required, that a manufacturer must jump through, there is no way to ‘prove’ this to the consumer. They either must accept the various independent tests that have already taken place or walk away from anything sold
in the UK.
Once the consumer confirms they understand that the smell is not dangerous in anyway, shape or form – Associated Weavers will request an Independent Inspection if required but this will be only to check for a smell.
If the consumer would like to check that we do in fact have the GUT’s approval, Ardent as CarpetRight call it, or Kai, as we call it, is registered under “C8B9AFEA” on the GUT’s
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