Off-Gassing from New Carpets

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Sometimes we feel like a canary in a coal mine. We're very sensitive to odors. We've alerted landlords and employers to undetected natural gas leaks. We smell mildew and must and cigarette smoke from a mile away.

This week was not a good one, from a canary's point of view. Tuesday we had to leave a store that had just installed new carpets -- the off-gassing (the emission of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as formaldehyde and other air pollutants that are used in the manufacturing process) was too strong. And yesterday we spent too much timing looking at an apartment with new carpeting -- and within a short time we ended up sick in bed.

Even if your nose (and lungs) isn't as sensitive as ours, the off-gassing is there, and it's not good for you. What can you do?

According to Green Building Supply:

• Look for the green label to show that the carpet meets industry standards
• Ask the installer to air out the new carpet for a day or two before installation
• Leave windows open and a fan going for a few days, too
• Make sure the installer seals seams with non-toxic adhesive. Glue is another potential source of indoor air pollution
• Vacuum frequently and deep clean annually to avoid triggering other allergic reactions
• Use AFM's Safecoat three-part carpet cleaning system that seals out toxic chemicals

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