There are 2 major concerns about carpeting and small children – VOCs and trapped allergens. Both can be harmful to children, asthma sufferers, people with allergies, the elderly and pets.
What are VOCs?
Do you know that new carpet smell? It turns out that it might not be very good for you or others in your household, especially small children.
The acronym VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compounds. They are chemicals used in the manufacturing of carpet and rugs, and they can be released after installation. The process is known as off-gassing –the chemicals are evaporating from the carpet—and the gases can create breathing problems in children and others that are susceptible. They make some people dizzy or nauseous.
Most VOCs are released within 72 hours, but not all of them. Off-gassing at a lower level can go on for years.
If you choose carpeting for your home, keep the home well-ventilated during installation. Consider keeping your little ones off of it for a week if possible. Put down a blanket for infants and toddlers to play on, or put them in a playpen.
Choosing Low-VOC Carpet
In response to consumer demand, carpeting manufacturers are producing products with lower levels of VOCs. The Carpet and Rug Institute has come out with labels for use on low-VOC carpeting. Look for the CRI Green Label (Low-VOC) or Green Label Plus (Very Low-VOC) on carpeting you’re considering. These carpets will produce better indoor air quality (IAQ) wherever they are installed.
Trapped Allergens in Carpeting
The Carpet and Rug Institute states that carpeting can improve IAQ over hard floors. The argument is that carpet traps allergens such as dust, dust mites and pet dander so that they don’t circulate in the air. Hard floors like vinyl flooring and solid hardwood flooring can’t do this. The argument might hold up if the hard floors were never swept and mopped or if small children didn’t crawl around on carpet and sometimes bury their faces in it.
If you choose carpeting, start with a greener option that is a Green Label or Green Label Plus product and then keep it clean. Buy a high-quality vacuum with a bristle bar and a HEPA filter. While changing bags is a hassle, studies show that vacuums with bags do a much better job of disposing of allergens than bagless vacuums. Vacuum at least once a week, more often if you have pets or if children play where foot traffic is heaviest.
Places To Find Eco-Friendly Ideas and Projects
- Accidentally Green – Blog dedicated to making healthy, eco-friendly decisions in all areas of life including home improvement projects.
- ecohome – This site can help you with your search for green carpet choices with sustainable performance attributes.
Have you chosen to be more eco-friendly with your home improvement projects? Share your ideas with us below.