Carpet Chemicals in Air

Most carpet is made with synthetic (human-made) materials. However, carpets can also be made of wool or other natural materials. Most carpet has at least two parts: the cushion or pad for support and noise reduction, and the carpet itself.

There are several types of carpet construction. Most synthetic carpet is “tufted.” Tufted carpet is made by machines that stitch and cut or loop yarn and then attach the yarn to a backing. The yarn is made of a nylon, acrylic, or polyester. This backed yarn is often attached to another backing with a latex rubber product. This second backing helps to make the carpet more stable.

If you have installed new carpet in your home and believe that you are experiencing health effects, DO NOT ATTEMPT to “bake out” the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and odors by closing off air movement into and out of the room or by raising the temperature. At one time, this was thought to be helpful, but it has been shown to make the situation worse.

Health effects of exposure to carpet chemicals

Some carpets can emit VOCs. For the general population, the amounts of VOCs from carpet and adhesives do not appear to affect health. However, for the young, the elderly, and people with lung conditions, allergies and allergic-type sensitivities, fairly low amounts of VOCs may have health effects. Examples of possible health effects are headaches, nausea,  difficulty breathing, and irritation to eyes, nose, and throat.

Usually, health care providers recommend that people with allergies to dust or pet dander, for example, avoid those allergens, as well as the conditions that support the generation or accumulation of such allergens. Some examples include woodstove ashes, living spaces in damp basements, wall-to-wall carpeting, feather pillows, and stuffed toys or stuffed animals.

Due to their closeness to the carpeting, babies and children can be at increased risk to inhalation exposure.