Carpets today run the gamut from cozy, to exotic to ultra modern to traditional. You might prefer all natural, or love the plush man-made fibers. But however they come, Americans love carpets. In fact, we buy them by the truckloads, 1.6 billion yards a year to be exact.

That’s a lot of carpet!

But carpets can also be air pollution factories! That new carpet can outgas VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) for up to 5 years. And as great as that new smell is, you may also get dizzy and headachy from the odor. Let’s face it – a good whiff of formaldehyde from that new carpet can be as delightful as smelling… well, styrene and 4-phenylcyclohexane – two common chemicals found in carpets.

Additionally, they can be breeding grounds for dust mites, mold and viruses. One study found that the Norwalk Virus can live on an uncleaned carpet for a month or more. Pet dander and microscopic organisms can live undetected and cause allergies. Carcinogens from cigarette smoke can work their way into the fabric of carpets, which can increase cancer risk for children and pets.

And I won’t even discuss what is on the bottom of your shoes. Or what your pets may have dragged in… And, whatever you do, don’t readthis if you are in the market for new carpeting. You might opt for hardwood…

But if like most of us, you still want that beautiful new carpet, here are some suggestions:

  1. If you can, go with area rugs instead of wall to wall.
  2. Vacate the area before, during and up to 7 days after installation.
  3. If possible, go with natural fibers.
  4. Choose an active method of air purification. A filter won’t help you much here.