Carpet is a popular flooring choice because it helps cushion our footsteps, reduce slips and falls and minimize injuries from falling, especially in children’s homes, schools and facilities like hospitals or nursing homes. It also provides insulation and thermal resistance (R-value), keeping rooms warmer longer and reducing energy consumption. It’s soft underfoot, comfortable and adds a warm, cozy feel to any room or home.

However, it’s important to know that carpets are the source of a wide range of health hazards and pollutants, especially if not cleaned regularly and thoroughly. Carpet traps household dust, pet dander and mold spores, as well as dirt and pesticides tracked in from outside. Dirty carpets are prime locations for mildew and mold growth, which releases spores into the air that can cause skin irritation or major health problems like bronchitis and asthma attacks. It’s also a perfect environment for the microscopic pests that breed and live in darkness.

Studies have linked wall-to-wall carpet in indoor spaces to a host of adverse health outcomes, including eye and lung symptoms, asthma attacks, fatigue, and hyperreactivity to chemicals, especially volatile organic compounds (VOC). These VOCs are released into the air during installation, cleaning and by some types of chemical treatment used in many synthetic carpets and carpet pads.

VOCs are known Carpet cleaning cost to contribute to the development of respiratory illnesses, skin irritation, headache and nausea. In addition, carpets can contain toxic fungi and bacteria that thrive in dark, moist environments. Several longitudinal studies have found that personnel in school buildings with wall-to-wall carpet experience more frequent eye and airway symptoms, face rashes and abnormal tiredness than personnel in school buildings with hard floors. Several of these studies have found that after the carpet was removed, the symptoms decreased.

It’s also important to note that not all carpets and carpet pads are created equal. Many conventional synthetic carpets are treated with perfluorinated chemicals, or PFCs, to waterproof them and prevent stains. These chemicals are known to be carcinogenic and linked to hormone disruption, birth defects, and other health issues. They also pose a risk to aquatic life and can leach into drinking water.

To avoid these harmful chemicals, look for a carpet with a wool or cotton backing that is not chemically treated. It’s also helpful to choose a jute pad that does not have a synthetic rubber or urethane bottom. This helps to protect the jute from the chemicals in the rubber and urethane, as well as to prevent the VOCs released from the adhesives that are used to install synthetic carpets. It is best to have your carpets installed without the use of any type of adhesive, as this can be one of the biggest contributors to toxins in your home. If this isn’t possible, opt for a glue-down option that uses a nontoxic adhesive such as Flotex 3 in 1 or Green Building Supply’s AFM 3 in 1. Earth Weave’s carpets are made with 100% undyed wool and utilize a hemp and cotton blend for padding.