How To Avoid VOCs In Your Carpet
New carpets come with chemicals on them that could potentially be harmful. These chemicals are called “volatile organic compounds,” or VOCs. And unfortunately, when you get a new carpet in your Los Angeles home, exposure to VOCs is inevitable. That’s why it’s crucial to understand these compounds and how to avoid them.
VOCs come in wide varieties, stemming from different (sometimes optional) chemicals that are put on your carpet. This variety means you have all kinds of factors to keep an eye on. Fortunately, there are steps to take that will allow you to minimize your exposure to VOCs before or even after you’ve installed a new carpet.
Here are the best ways to minimize your VOC exposure when dealing with a brand-new carpet and allow yourself to breathe healthy air.
What Are VOCs?
Volatile organic compounds are present in most synthetic materials, not just carpets. Carpets are actually a relatively small emitter of VOCs. Nevertheless, the synthetic materials in carpets slowly evaporate over time, causing the air to fill with chemicals.
VOCs constitute many chemicals – benzene, ethylene glycol, carbolic acid, and organochloride are common types. The most common is 4-PHC or 4-phenylcyclohexene. Adhesives have their own hard-to-pronounce ingredients, like styrene, dichloroethane, ethyl benzene, toluene, trichloroethane, and xylenes.
Older Los Angeles carpets used to contain formaldehyde, and you might still hear claims that this is a normal carpet VOC. But it’s actually not very common anymore.
It’s unclear how dangerous they are – the research is still ongoing. They may cause sick-building syndrome and other symptoms like headaches, breathing problems, and dizziness. And they’re not great for kids and pets, who are often closer to the floor. The EPA recommends that you minimize your intake of VOCs, as they’re likely harmful, even if the research isn’t complete.
What Materials Have VOCs?
A majority of VOCs come from carpet backings. Latex and polyvinyl are common high-VOC backing materials.
Adhesives are a common source of carpet VOCs. When getting a carpet installed, try to look for low VOC adhesive, or don’t use adhesives at all.
You can add many things to your carpet that increase VOC emission. Dye accelerators can release many VOCs, as can color agents, flame retardants, and anything biocidal. Be careful about any stain protector or other finish.
Installing in a moist area also tends to increase VOCs. Of course, you shouldn’t install a carpet in a damp area regardless, as it can encourage mold.
Carpets made of natural materials tend to have fewer VOCs. Go for wool, jute, seagrass, sisal, coir, or cotton. Nylon and polypropylene, while synthetic, also have lower VOCs.
Some green certifications imply low VOC, although you need to know which ones. Look out for carpets with Green Label Certified and GreenGuard logos.
How Do You Clean VOCs?
There are a few ways to get the VOCs out of your new Los Angeles carpet.
First, keep in mind that they will dissipate over time. Unfortunately, there’s some disagreement as to how long this process takes. Most VOCs are gone after a few days, but some claim they take several years to dissipate completely. However long it takes, there are things you can do to speed it up and get rid of that smell.
You can try to clean your Los Angeles carpet yourself. Make sure to use low-VOC cleaning products, of course.
Ventilation is one of the most crucial factors in getting rid of VOCs. Open windows and run fans. Eventually, the VOCs will go into the air and leave the room.
Combine your ventilation with heat. Turn the house heat on, or open the window on a sunny day. As you know from first-grade science, heat causes things to evaporate faster.
Grab an air purifier and/or a few plants to help the air circulate cleaner. Doing this should aid in the removal of all kinds of toxins from your breathing air.
Be sure you regularly vacuum with a HEPA-strength vacuum. Going over the carpets in your Los Angeles once a week helps remove the toxic gasses within, alongside any weekly grime buildup. HEPA filters are the best type of vacuum you can get, so go for that if you can.
Get a professional Los Angeles steam cleaning done soon, as well. The EPA recommends steam cleaning to get rid of VOCs faster. It may seem weird to get your carpet cleaned by a Los Angeles technician when it’s brand new, but it can help with your air quality a lot.
Does carpet cleaning remove VOCs?
Getting a Los Angeles carpet cleaning can’t eliminate VOCs in your carpet altogether, but it does help remove some of them. The VOCs will leave your carpet naturally over time, but carpet cleaning can help speed up this process quite well. A professional Los Angeles cleaning can also remove any other harmful thing in your carpet.
What type of carpet is low VOC?
Low VOC carpets tend to use natural materials. Wool is one of the more popular choices. For a cheaper material, cotton is another good choice. You can also get materials like jute, seagrass, sisal, and coir.
If you prefer synthetic materials, nylon and polypropylene also tend to have lower VOCs than other synthetic materials.
What is an unsafe level of VOCs?
It’s unclear what the exact health effects of VOCs are, so it can be hard to determine what unsafe levels are. There are strict regulations on manufacturing materials that emit VOCs, so you’re unlikely to buy materials that emit too many. That said, activities like painting can create an unhealthy level of VOCs.
VOCs are an unavoidable part of getting a new carpet. They need to be made from synthetic materials that release these chemicals, so you’ll have to accept them as part of your life and get used to that “new carpet smell.”
That said, you don’t need to deal with them. You can reduce your VOC intake by shopping smart and getting a thorough Los Angeles carpet cleaning after installation. You can take care of your carpet VOCs if you know how to do it.