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A: Believe it or not, carpeting is one of the biggest contributors to indoor air pollution! One of the most common health problems in a house is allergies, and carpets are practically a perfect environment for dust mites, molds and mildew.

Q: Is there any truth to carpet being “unhealthy” for the home? What about ceramic tile as an alternative flooring material?

A: Believe it or not, carpeting is one of the biggest contributors to indoor air pollution! One of the most common health problems in a house is allergies, and carpets are practically a perfect environment for dust mites, molds and mildew.

Here are a few facts about carpets that you may not be aware of:

Composition and Chemicals: Wall-to wall carpeting in many homes are made of synthetic fibers dyed and treated with chemicals (fungicides, soil repellants and pesticides) and bonded to synthetic backing with chemical glues. All of these materials release hundreds of Volatile Organic Compounds as they age, in a process called outgassing. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) can be mutagens, irritants and carcinogens. Not the ideal thing to have in your home, to say the least.

Dust, Dirt and More Cling to Carpet Carpet also attracts and retains all that you and your family members track in to the house from the ground outside- dirt, lead dust found in flaking house exterior paint, insects, bacteria, lawn and garden chemicals and other unhealthy debris.  

Cleaning Carpet Getting a wall-to-wall carpet 100% clean is nearly impossible (ever rented one of those steam-cleaners to clean your carpet and cleaned the same area over and over, each time seeing more dirt come out?) and trying to clean causes its own problems. Vacuuming stirs up airborne dust and mold spores. Shampooing can leave a damp carpet encouraging more mold growth and even the shampoo may have irritating or even toxic chemicals added.

Ceramic Tile: Slide to the Opposite End of the Spectrum

At the other end of the floor covering health spectrum is ceramic tile. You might consider switching from carpet to ceramic considering that it’s much healthier as it doesn’t trap dust or dirt, its composition doesn’t pose a risk to those with allergen or chemical sensitivities, and its maintenance is far easier!

Composition: It is made from natural clay materials fired in a kiln.

Chemical Sensitivities? A tile sealed with non-leaded glaze is impervious to mold and bacteria and is well-tolerated by chemically sensitive people. Ceramic tile is bonded to the base flooring using low-toxicity thin set mortar, and can be grouted with home-made, additive-free grout. 2 parts dry, clean sand mixed with 1 part Portland cement can be prepared and added to water to form a slow, damp curing grout.

Long-Term Benefits:  Although a ceramic tile floor can be expensive up front because it is more time and labor-intensive to install than carpet, ceramic tile floors are very durable and long-lasting if properly maintained, and can be considered as comparatively affordable in the long run. 

 

 

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December 11, 2013

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