Indoor Air Quality: The Trouble With Carpeting
Carpets keep a home warm and cozy, but they can also harbor allergens, dust, bacteria, and other pollutants that can affect indoor air quality and cause health problems.
By Diana Rodriguez
Medically reviewed by Christine Wilmsen Craig, MD
As a home owner in San Diego, you're diligent about changing your air filters to improve the quality of your indoor air and keep air pollutants out of your home, and you vacuum your carpets regularly to keep them clean, too. Still, that lush pile carpeting may actually be a source of air pollutants that are negatively affecting your indoor air quality.
Carpets and Indoor Air Quality
Few carpets are made from natural products, and the processes that are used to create them are even less natural — they’re often made with chemicals that can cause health problems when released into the air in your home.
Carpeting, padding, and the adhesive glue used to lay carpets can release irritating, potentially harmful chemicals. It's not uncommon for people to experiencing strange health effects after new carpets have been installed in their homes.
And older carpets can pose health risks as well. Dust, dirt, dander, bacteria, mold, and mildew (especially if the carpeting has water damage or is frequently damp) can settle in and get buried down deep, making it difficult to get them out. Chemicals used around the home, from cleaning products and pesticides to actual carpet cleaners, can also nestle in deep, release harmful substances into the air, and worsen your indoor air quality.
Health Problems Caused by Carpets in San Diego
Many different pollutants call carpets home before they make it into the air and into your lungs. Unfortunately, there are a number of health problems associated with these pollutants:
· Irritated skin
· Frequent headaches
· Persistent cough or sore throat
· Red, irritated eyes
· Irritation of the nose and throat
· Difficulty breathing
If dust and allergens are deeply embedded in your carpets — or circulating in the air throughout your home — allergy symptoms can become worse. Sneezing, stuffy or runny nose, and itchy eyes may occur, depending on the specific pollutants.
Of course, frequent vacuuming and deep cleaning of your carpets will help to limit and remove many potential contaminants, leaving less to circulate in your air. An air purifier and good ventilation can also help improve indoor air quality.
If you're having new carpets installed in your home and are concerned about the potentially harmful chemicals that may be released, consider these suggestions:
· Air out the carpet before it's installed. Have it unrolled outside or in a well-ventilated room.
· Research the VOC (volatile organic compound) emissions of particular brands and types of carpets before you buy; choose low-emission or "green" carpets and padding for fewer health effects.
· Ask that the installers use low-emission adhesives to install the carpet or, instead of using adhesives, consider just tacking down the carpeting without glue.
· Make sure carpets are installed according to the proper standards.
· Don't stay in your home during and right after installation.
· Keep the room with the new carpeting well ventilated — open windows, and use fans or an air conditioner for two to three days after installation to circulate the air pollutants and chemicals right out of your home.
· Follow instructions for caring for and cleaning your carpets to remove allergens and contaminants.
You might not think that contaminants in your flooring can contribute to pollution of the air you breathe at home, but carpets can play a big role in indoor air quality — or the lack of it. Whether they're new or old, take care to keep carpets clean and as free of chemicals and other irritants as possible.
We at Peninsula Carpet Care can help keep the air in your home clean and fresh.