How can carpet impact health?

Carpets and rugs may trap pollutants and allergens like dust mites, pet dander, cockroach allergens, particle pollution, lead, mold spores, pesticides, dirt and dust. Toxic gases in the air can stick to small particles that settle into carpets. These pollutants may become airborne during renovations, vacuuming or even walking on the carpet. 

Certain carpet types, including shag or other high-pile varieties, as well as carpets older than 10 years, typically have higher levels of pollutants and allergens. If a large area is covered in carpet, it may be very difficult to remove indoor air pollutants and allergens.

Children are more likely to be exposed to pollution in carpets and rugs. They spend time playing on the floor and place their hands in their mouths.

Chemicals used in some new carpets, carpet pads and the adhesives used to install them can harm your health. Some of these products are made with volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which emit odors and chemicals.

How can you protect your health?

Instead of carpets, chose hard-surfaced flooring. If this is not possible, vacuum frequently with a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter. However, vacuuming may disturb settled particles, causing more pollution to become airborne. Open Windows while vacuuming and empty the vacuum's cannister outdoors.

If you must use rugs, ensure they can easily be removed for cleaning. Vacuum both sides of the rug. Deep clean carpets and rugs annually using dry steam cleaning. Make sure carpets are properly dried to reduce the potential for mildew.

When installing new carpet, request that the carpet is unrolled and aired out in a well-ventilated area (a clean, dry warehouse, for example) for 72 hours before installation. If possible, have carpet installed while the space is unoccupied. Request the use of glues or adhesives that are non-toxic and low VOC. Then allow 72 hours of ventilation before inhabiting the space. Make sure the carpet can be removed later without use of toxic chemicals.

At home, kitchens, bathrooms and entryways should always be carpet-free because they are frequently damp, providing a good environment for mold. To reduce the amount of dirt and pollutants that are tracked in from outdoors, use durable, commercial-grade door mats outside entryways. At home, remove shoes upon entry.

Watch the below video to learn proper vacuum technique to effectively remove dirt and pollutants from your carpets and rugs.

Page last updated: June 7, 2024

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