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Posted by Dr. Monica Wonnacott | January 26, 2016

New Carpet Safety

Thanks R.F. from Utah for your recent question about health safety concerns with installation of new carpet, especially in regards to young children.

I must admit that this question allowed me the opportunity to do some digging into a topic I didn’t know that much about. By all apparent scientific evidence, the short answer is no, there are no major health concerns with installing new carpet. Here’s what I found:

The American Academy of Pediatrics appears not to have any particular stand, policy, or commentary about safety and new carpet.

I did learn that there is a whole group or “institute” related to carpet. Who knew? It is called the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI). The CRI apparently works closely with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). They have an Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) testing program to ensure safe levels of volatile organic chemicals (VOC).

Volatile organic chemicals are what the big safety concern is all about. There appears to be a lot of myth and controversy surrounding VOCs. Indoor air quality is affected by the amount of volatile organic chemicals emitted. Emissions come from products such as paint, building materials, cleaning materials, furnishings, fabrics, etc. To improve air quality, products should give off low amounts of VOCs and emissions should dissipate quickly.

The CRI has published several reports that show what carpet emits and the range of acceptable VOC emission levels. The reports indicate that all carpet emissions are far below acceptable levels, which means, carpets are safe. I am not in the carpet industry, so the actual numbers don’t mean much to me. However, by all reports, the levels seem to be safe. The reports also indicate that the VOCs are emitted at the highest rate in the first 24-72 hours after laying new carpet.

Per the CRI, here are some basic, “common sense” tips for laying carpet:

  1. Install carpet that uses the CRI’s indoor air quality carpet testing green label.
  2. Vacuum old carpet prior to removal and the floor after the old carpet and cushion have been removed to minimize airborne dust and particles.
  3. Ventilate with fresh air after the removal of old carpet and the installation of new carpet and up to 72 hours after installation.
  4. Use a professional installer. The installer should use minimum industry standards of CRI-104 and/or 105 (don’t ask me what the 104/105 standards are, I’m just relaying the information)
  5. People who are prone to allergic reactions should avoid being present when old carpet is being removed and new carpet is being installed.

Logically, my biggest concern with small children on the floor is always what they are getting into and putting in their mouths. This can happen with any type of flooring, so keep floors clean. Make sure you use a good vacuum with good suction, adjustable cheap replica watches brushes, and a high-efficiency filtration system.

Note: The CRI has a consumer information toll-free number, 1-800-882-8846. The website is