The padding that sits under some carpets sometimes uses chemicals that can seep out and affect the health of your family. Here are a few methods in preventing health problems as well as suggestions for alternatives.
Carpet padding is basically foam underlining that sits under your carpet and gives it a bit of bounce. Th e padding is usually recycled from old foam products, a process which is environmentally friendly, but also creates a product that may be causing health problems in some people.
The main problem with the padding seems to stem from foam products produced before 2005. Some of these products were coated with a flame retardant chemical called PBDEs, which has since been banned. Unfortunately, some homes are still using this foam padding under their carpet.
Over time, the PBDEs migrates from the foam to the carpet and eventually to the dust particles that settle in the carpet fibers. If your home uses this padding and you spend a lot of time in it, you could be exposing yourself to slight amounts of this dangerous chemical.
How Do You Tell If Your Home Has This Foam Padding?
There is no easy way to tell unless you specifically bought the carpet padding and had it installed after 2005. If you’re unsure, you have a few options:
Tear out the old carpet padding and replace it with one that is certified as low-VOC:
If you remove the old padding, and are looking for a safe alternative you would want to buy padding that is un-used and made from material that produces very low VOC emissions. Here are a few types:
- Frothed polyurethane or memory foam
- Slab rubber
- 100% sheep wool, and natural fibers such as felt, horsehair, and jute
Clean your carpet liberally:
With this you need to vacuum your carpet at least twice a week to remove as much dust as possible. Also be sure your vacuum has a HEPA filter, which can pick up 99.97% of the very fine particles a regular vacuum can miss.
Also, it’s good to have your carpet professionally cleaned 1-2 times a year. It’s best to cuse steam-cleaning or chemical-free carpet cleaning.
Replace your carpet with hardwood flooring:
Hardwood flooring is not only a natural alternative to carpet, but you can avoid having it absorb and spread the chemically saturated dust that comes from the foam padding. It’s also green!