Indoor Air Quality

The carpet industry has worked for years with governments and scientific researchers to better understand the impact of carpet on your indoor environment - especially air quality.

Because carpet is made from both natural and synthetic fibers, many homeowners worry that having carpeting in the home will trigger allergic reactions. Carpeting is often seen as a breeding ground for dust mites and other allergens. In addition, people worry that carpets emit harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are a byproduct of synthetic chemical manufacturing.

Carpets, as well as carpet adhesives and padding used in carpet installation, do emit VOCs, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA recommends asking the carpet retailer to unroll the carpet and air it out before bringing it to your home. You might also consider staying out of the house while carpet is being installed, and keeping windows and doors open for as long as possible to allow fresh air to circulate. This being said, independent studies have shown that levels of VOCs emitted by carpets are very low and that these emissions have no adverse effect on human health.

The EPA also warns that carpet can harbor allergens and fungi, and it can actually absorb and re-release biological pollutants such as pesticides from the air. Mold spores and dust mites are less likely to proliferate if carpet is kept clean and dry. In addition, many researchers believe that carpet helps reduce airborne allergens in the home by "trapping" mites, dust and other allergens in the carpet between cleanings.

For homeowners, the issue is one of trust and comfort. Consumers can get a measure of assurance by only purchasing "green label" carpet that has been subjected to industry air-quality testing. More importantly, the best way to minimize your concerns about carpets and air quality is through regular vacuuming and cleaning.

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