Question

What is the best, safest and green carpet out there. We will be replacing most of the carpeting in our 30 yr old house.

Asked by Rebecca St John
Gaithersburg, MD

We all have seasonal allergies. The carpeting for now will be in 4 bedrooms.

Answer

Thanks for your inquiry. Carpeting has traditionally been smelly because of the 4-phenylcyclohexene (4-PCH), an unintended, low-level by-product of the chemical polymerization process that creates styrene-butadene SB latex. SB latex is used in carpet construction to adhere the face fibers and the backing materials.

  • New manufacturing processes have lowered the amount of 4 PCH by more than 80%.
  • Research has shown there to be no negative impact of 4PCH or any other VOC on human health. (See an overview of that research here. )  
  • In spite of this, there is still an odor that some people find offensive, especially if they are chemically sensitive.

By their very nature, wool carpets and rugs are good for the indoor environment. That's because wool, unlike synthetic fibers, rapidly absorbs common contaminants in indoor air like formaldehyde, nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide.

  • Not only does wool keep the air free of many harmful pollutants, it will not re-emit them, even when heated.
  • In fact, it has been estimated that wool carpets can continually purify indoor air for up to 30 years!

Non-toxic carpet

About 10 years ago a few companies realized there was a need for non-toxic carpet and they researched how to do this. It was not easy. They used natural latex, wool and jute and nothing else.

The process of making this carpet strong, beautiful and durable has been challenging for them, but a few have succeeded.

Our chemically sensitive customers say these are the only products they can tolerate.

  • In spite of this, we still recommend that you test each product for your own sensitivities first before purchasing.
  • Same applies to the pad.

Non-toxic carpet padding

Most pad on the market is either urethane, rubber or recycled content.

  • Most of it smells to some extent and there are questionable ingredients.
  • The only pad we have found that satisfies our requirements for safety and performance is our wool pad.
  • It is made of 100% virgin wool and no chemicals.

Asthma

The most common single cause of asthma is sensitization to house dust, or more precisely to the dust mite, and particularly its waste products. But there's no reason why asthmatics shouldn't enjoy the comfort and aesthetic pleasure of wool carpet.

In fact, not only are carpets inhospitable for dust mites, but wool carpet is especially resistant. Research performed by the German Applied and Experimental Allergy Research Association (GAF) showed that when wool and nylon carpets (one of which was treated with an anti-microbial finish) were compared for dust mites populations, the wool carpeting performed best in resisting dust mite infestation.

  • Additionally, wool's long, coarse fibers cannot be inhaled and therefore do not affect asthma sufferers.
  • So as long as the air is dry, the ventilation good and the cleaning regular and thorough, asthma sufferers can breathe easy with wool carpet!

If you have further questions, please email.

Joel Hirshberg joel@greenbuildingsupply.com www.greenbuildingsupply.com 800-405-0222

Tagged In: green carpet

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