Carpets are a soft, slip-resistant and beautiful flooring option. It is these qualities that make it the most preferred flooring choice for home and office space in more than half of homes in Singapore. Nonetheless, as with any common product, a number of environmental impacts can take place throughout the life cycle of a carpet installation. It is also a fact that most children play for hours on them, some even crawl on them and breathe in their fumes while proud homeowners inhale often inhale that typical ‘new-carpet smell’. So, it’s very important that as a purchaser, you get to make an informed decision about the type of carpeting you go in for based on the various life cycle attributes, materials used to make and install the carpet, as well as issues pertaining to recycling plus disposal.
Dangerous Toxins that Live in Carpets
Irrespective of whether your carpets are old or new, there are probably a number of toxins in them than you would ever imagine. To begin with, new carpets often contain VOCs (volatile organic compounds), such as benzene, toluene, formaldehyde, acetone, styrene, ethyl benzene, plus a host of other hazardous substances. Likewise, new carpets contain carcinogens like p-Dichlorobenzene and chemicals that have been shown to cause fetal abnormalities in animals. Additionally, these chemicals are known to cause nerve damages, respiratory illness and hallucinations in humans. The other common compounds in new carpeting that can affect your health include stain protectors, flame retardants, moth-proofing and adhesives.
Older carpet are more hazardous than new ones since they not only contain the aforementioned chemicals but have also had years to accumulate dust, dirt, mites, pesticides, as well as other toxins from feet, shoes and pet claws. As a matter of fact, your carpeting can hold up to eight times its weight in dirt and toxins, and every time you use a fogger or spray for bugs, the chemicals stay in the rug for years. This is why health experts opine that 80% of an individual’s exposure to pesticides occurs indoors.
Millions of pounds of used carpet enter into Singapore’s solid waste stream every year, accounting for almost one percent of all municipal solid weight by volume. Besides, the bulky nature of carpet installations creates collection as well as handling difficulties for solid waste operators and the assortment of materials present in carpets make it very hard to recycle.
Why Can You Do?
Well, you don’t have to get rid of your home’s carpet installation so as to reduce your exposure to toxins. First, you can vacuum your carpet with a well-sealed high quality cleaner instead of those cheap vacuum cleaners stocked by most departmental stores in Singapore that rarely do a good job cleaning your carpets. Steam cleaning is another ideal option as it can help kill bacteria and dust mites. Make it a habit to take your shoes off as you enter your house on top of having a door mat right at the door. Lastly, be sure to at least go for a carpet that’s made of organically flame retardant fibers like wool along with a woven rug.