Off-gassing is the evaporation of chemicals from a new product into the air. This can happen in a number of products including furniture, plastics, vinyl products, paints, cars, clothing, cosmetics, water bottles, mattresses and of course carpet plus many more. Off- gassing products emit what are called volatile organic compounds more commonly referred to as VOCs and small particulate substances during the life of the product.
There is a source to see what chemicals can be found and what human illnesses they have been linked to. The Collaboration on Health and Environment’s (CHE) Toxicant and Disease Database is an online resource that shows links between chemicals and about 180 human diseases and conditions. The CHE says that over 80,000 chemicals have been developed and put into the market place or discarded over the past 50 years and many have not been tested for toxic impact on humans and animals. Many of these compounds can be found in air, water, food, homes, work places and more.
The most notable VOCs released from synthetic carpet are styrene and 4-PC , both of these can be found in the latex backing used in 95% of the carpets available today. “New carpet smell” is the effects of 4-PC off gassing. This process can cause irritation to the eyes and respiratory tract that may also effect the central nervous system. Additionally adhesives used to attach carpet to the floor usually contain benzene and toluene which are some of the most harmful known VOCs.
Every person exposed to these VOCs will react differently. Sometimes it can be difficult to recognize that someone is affected by off-gassing. Common reactions to off-gassing of VOCs include headaches, nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, and asthma. Longer term reactions include leukemia and lymphoma in the presence of benzene and cognitive impairment and hearing loss in the presence of styrene.
Carpets can emit VOCs for up to five years, but off-gassing does significantly decrease in the first several month after installation. The EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, suggests that all new carpets be aired out for at least 72 hours after installation by one opening up windows and using fans that help circulate air to outside. Another recommendation is to ask the company you purchase it from to air it out before installing and vacuum it with a HEPA filter vacuum right after installation. It is also a good idea to have brand new synthetic carpets professionally cleaned with hot water extraction to significantly reduce VOCs.
If you have it in your budget, the best choice for the health of everyone in your home is to choose an environmentally friendly carpet. Luckily the more we learn about harmful products and technology the more these Eco-friendly products are becoming available, but because they are still so new they can be more costly.
For more carpet care advice and tips feel free to browse our website and blog. For the best carpet care in the North Seattle and Snohomish County areas make an appointment online with All Kleen or give us a call today.