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Environmental Toxins - Carpet Installation
Most people recognize the smell of new carpeting, but not everyone understands that the smell comes from chemicals volatilizing (evaporating) into the air − chemicals which can exacerbate respiratory problems, among other significant health impacts.

Chemicals such as formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, are used in the manufacture of most commercial carpet and padding materials, and the adhesives used to cement carpet to floors often contain toxic solvents with very high VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) levels.

Respiration is the primary route of exposure for these chemicals. If you can smell it, you're being exposed. Children and pregnant women are particularly vulnerable, and their exposure should especially be avoided. Any new carpet installation should be allowed to "outgas" completely (i.e., until the odor is not noticeable) before the area is used by employees or the public.

Non-toxic organic carpeting is available, but is not cost-effective for municipal use. However, natural fiber padding and low-VOC adhesives are both available and should be used when possible.

Carpets have other problems too. They can be repositories for pesticides tracked in from outdoors (pesticides require sunlight and moisture to break down, so they can stay active in carpets for long periods), and they can harbor mold spores, allergens and other airborne toxins.

How Green Is My Town? is a program of Grassroots Environmental Education
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