I’ve mentioned more than once how icky our ancient carpet is. But since David pulled up the carpet downstairs today, perhaps I should clarify. I’m not talking about the weave or the shade…
Unless it’s made of an untreated natural fiber, carpet is a cushy layer of toxic chemicals right under your feet — and every time you walk on it, you release them into the air. Have you ever thought about how creepy that is?
The most common carpet fibers are woven from petrochemical compounds. They’re full of bleaches, dyes, stain fighters, flame retardants, antimicrobial agents and horrific carcinogenic things you don’t want to know about but should. The backing usually contains latex and PVC. Very, very bad. There are nasty industrial adhesives involved. They’re in your air. You breathe them. You swallow them. And so does your child if you have one like I do.
I won’t go into it here but honestly, you should read more:
- The Body Toxic by Nena Baker, investigative journalist. Highly recommended. Will scare the bejeezus out of you, but you should get an idea of the chemicals in your everyday household items, including carpeting.
- Is Your Carpet Toxic? “Older carpets are so toxic that your chances of being exposed to hazardous chemicals are 10-50 times higher in a carpeted room than outdoors.”
- The Toxic Dangers of Carpeting “In America, we love wall-to-wall carpeting — in fact, according to the Carpet and Rug Institute more than two-thirds of American floors have them — despite the fact that they contain toxic byproducts that are released into our homes and even inhaled and absorbed into our bodies.”
- Chemicals in New Carpet “Longterm effects of VOCs can include damage to the liver, kidney and central nervous system. Concentrations of VOCs found indoors, such as in new carpeting, can be as much as 10 times higher than those found outdoors, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.”
- Toxic Carpet: Dangerous Toxins that Live in Your Carpeting “Numerous studies have shown that there are over 200 chemicals in the mixtures of gases which are released by new carpets.”
My goal from the moment I stepped into this house has been to go as green as possible, starting with removing our chemical-laden carpet. But it’s the kind of thing you shouldn’t in good conscience just throw away. According to the Carpet America Recovery Effort, 5 billion lbs of carpeting ends up in the landfill every year. Do the right thing, people — keep this toxic disaster out of your local dump.
With a little research, I was able to locate a carpet recycling center within 40 minutes of our house — Conigliaro Industries. They recycle just about everything (they even took our electronics). Carpet can be broken down into components used to make roofing tiles, furniture, soundproofing and more. Did you know that? I didn’t.
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Before I go, I must say this: please never tear up carpet without wearing a really, really good dust mask. And vacuum like mad before you take a breath without it.