Carpet is a safe and comfortable floor covering that provides a range of benefits, including sound absorption, insulating, and anti-static properties. It also helps to prevent dust mites and other allergens from escaping into the air, which is especially helpful for families with respiratory difficulties like asthma or allergies.

However, traditional synthetic carpetsĀ Healthy Carpets are not as healthy as you may think, and they can release toxins into the home environment through off-gassing. These chemicals, known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can cause a variety of health issues, such as nose and throat irritation, headaches, allergic skin reactions, and dyspnea. Many people are unaware that they are exposed to these harmful VOCs from their carpet, even if it is only a few years old.

Fortunately, there are low-VOC carpets that can be used in homes and businesses, as well as a growing selection of eco-friendly carpet made from renewable natural materials. Jute and sisal are a few examples of natural fibers that can be woven to produce soft, eco-friendly carpeting. Both are biodegradable, with jute derived from the plant that produces jute rope, and sisal sourced from a variety of plants including agave, yucca, and sisal. Both natural carpets are durable and can withstand heavy foot traffic, which makes them ideal for families with kids or pets. Sisal and jute are also naturally resistant to stains, eliminating the need for chemical stain repellants.

Some natural carpets are also infused with recycled and recyclable materials that contribute to green design. Look for carpets that contain a high percentage of pre- and post-consumer recycled content, as well as those with a BREEAM or Greenguard Gold certification, which ensure that the product is free from urea-formaldehyde resin and toxic adhesives. Another option is cork carpet, which can be glued down or tacked, and is an excellent choice for allergy sufferers as it emits no VOCs.

If you’re planning to install new carpet, be sure to let it air out for several hours in a clean and ventilated room. Also, prefer carpet tiles that are attached with tacks rather than adhesives, as they tend to be less toxic. For older carpets, be sure to have them professionally cleaned, as they may have been treated with PFAS or PFOS, a group of chemicals linked to a range of serious health conditions.

In fact, it is recommended that you replace your carpet every 10 to 15 years. If you do choose to install carpet, opt for synthetic carpets that are vetted by groups such as Greenguard, which screens products for indoor air pollutants. However, be aware that a carpet can still emit VOCs through its adhesives, as well as any phthalates it may contain. Avoid abrasive or latex adhesives, as these typically emit higher levels of VOCs than other types of glue. Also, be sure to avoid carpet that has been treated with a stain-resistant treatment using PFAS or PFOS as these are persistent in the environment and have been linked to a variety of health problems.