As autumn turns into winter and the summer heat dies down, many people might be considering some new cozy carpeting for their house to stay warm.  But the EPA warns that while wall to wall carpet can be nice in a home or office, your new carpet might be a source of chemical emissions that can cause severe allergy-like symptoms.

Carpet is a synthetic material, made from petroleum byproducts, nylon, acrylic, PVC and more.  These substances release toxic chemicals such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and formaldehyde into the air in and around your home.

The products that accompany carpet installation, such as adhesives and padding, also emit volatile organic compounds, causing eyes and nose irritation, runny nose, headaches, skin irritation and shortness of breath.

According to the EPA, a “carpet can also act as a “sink” for chemical and biological pollutants including pesticides, dust mites, and fungi.”

Here are some important carpet facts you should know:

  • Dr. Phillip Tierno, director of Clinical Microbiology and Immunology, NYU, has stated that your carpet may contain 200,000 bacteria per square inch, which would make it 4,000 times dirtier than your toilet seat.
  • In addition, Dr. Tierno warns that “…hundreds of thousands of bacterial species live in carpets, including E. coli, salmonella, staphylococcus and more.”
  • Carpet can absorb and hold moisture, making it a prime spot for biological pollutants, like mold, to grow.
  • According to the EPA and carpet industry estimates, “approximately 4.7 billion pounds of carpet were discarded in the United States in 2002; most years, carpet accounts for over 1 percent of all municipal solid waste by weight, or about 2 percent by volume.”

What To Do If You Have or Want Carpet:

The EPA advises that people should leave their homes or offices during and immediately after installation.  After installing a new carpet, open doors and windows as well as check that your ventilation systems are in good working order to reduce chemicals in the rooms where the new carpet is available.

You should avoid putting carpet in areas where there might be moisture, such as a bathroom.  For carpet elsewhere in your home, be sure to dry your carpet completely following any spills and try to reduce moisture and humidity in your home to reduce mold and bacterial growth.