A truly remarkable thing about the Internet is how a single news story that contains bogus and inaccurate information about carpet (or anything else for that matter) can spread like wildfire, appearing over and over in different websites and blog posts faster than you can shake a stick at it. Indeed, in my job I often feel like I am playing a world-wide-web-based version of Whac-A-Mole, bashing headlines instead of critters, only to see the same silly story pop up again somewhere else. In this case, it’s about carpet and formaldehyde.
Recently, a story appeared in my inbox titled, Is Your House Making You Sick?, with the subtitle, Find Out What’s Lurking Inside Your Home And How to Make a Change That’s Better for You and the Environment.
The story, which was sent to me by several different people, originated at The Nest, a website for newlyweds setting up their first homes. The story had been picked up by a wire service and appeared in newspapers around the country.
The story lists various interior products, including paint and hardwood floors, warning consumers to “beware” of various aspects of the products. The section on carpet reads:
Beware: Chemicals in your carpets: Carpets and carpet cushions can contain VOC’s and emit formaldehyde, a colorless, pungent-smelling gas. According to the EPA, formaldehyde has been shown to cause cancer in animals and may cause cancer in humans. Health effects include eye, nose, and throat irritation; wheezing and coughing; fatigue; skin rash; and severe allergic reactions.
Take care: Look for carpets made from natural fibers with little or no chemical treatment. Shaw Floors sells a variety of eco-friendly colors and styles for both wall-to-wall and area carpeting. Also, purchase carpets with natural fiber backing that’s attached with less-toxic adhesives.
Apart from several conflicting and confusing statements, (just what exactly is an eco-friendly color?), the biggest problem with the article is the author’s use of the f word – f as in formaldehyde
. If the author had performed a modicum of research on the topic she would have discovered that formaldehyde is not used to manufacture carpet and hasn’t been for 30 years.
In fact, CRI’s Green Label and Green Label Plus testing and certification programs carry tremendous weight in counteracting negative and irresponsible media coverage of carpet and its role in Indoor Air Quality.
Green Label testing expanded to include carpet cushion and Green Label Plus testing was established for adhesives. Both GL carpet cushion and GLP adhesives have the same low emission requirements. And one more critical point: independent testing shows that all VOC emissions from carpet are virtually undetectable within 48-72 hours after installation. After this brief time, VOCs are gone – period!
For even more information on carpet and formaldehyde, see this Technical Bulletin from the CRI website
. There is so much evidence testifying to carpet’s safety and appropriateness, I have to ask: on the subject of carpet and formaldehyde, to whom should consumers listen? Should we believe experts at the EPA, USGBC, and American Lung Association, or an uninformed writer who wouldn’t know a tufter
from a tea cozy?