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Carpets: Are your Children Crawling and Walking on Toxins?


carpetDo you love your carpet? Do you enjoy walking on soft, luxurious, thick carpet? Have you ever thought about what might be lurking in your carpet? Let’s take a detailed look:

Carpets in your homes expose you and your family to dangerous, toxic chemicals that are 10 to 50 times higher in your carpeted room than outdoors. They contain dust mites, food debris, pollen, human and pet hair, and traces of skin, mould and fungi. Carpets are also a great breeding ground for dangerous bacteria, including Salmonella, Campylobacter, Listeria and Shigella.

Chemicals of Concern Commonly Found in Carpets:

  • Antimony Trioxide: It is a respiratory irritant and carcinogen.
  • Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) - Used in stain treatments for carpets. This substance has been linked to cancer and reproductive as well as developmental effects.
  • Styrene: It is used in carpet backing. It’s a hormone disruptor and can harm the brain and the central nervous system.
  • Xylenes: Used in carpet adhesives. Eye, nose, throat, and respiratory irritants.
  • Formaldehyde: It can cause eye, note and throat irritation, coughing, nosebleeds, neurotoxicity, contact dermatitis, rash , asthma.
  • Acetone: It can cause lung irritation, skin rashes, eye irritation, cardio-vascular, liver – and neurotoxicity.
  • 4-phenylcyclohexene (4-PCH): That ‘new carpet smell’. Found in carpet backing. Eye and respiratory tract irritant that may also affect the central nervous system. Reacts with ozone in indoor air to create carcinogenic formaldehyde.

There are numerous other chemical substances that can be found in carpets, such as mothproofing chemicals, fire retardants, sprays, artificial dyes, antimicrobial treatments and finishes as well as flame retardants and stain protectors.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 80% of human exposure to pesticides occurs indoors. Furthermore, whenever you repaint your rooms or do any refurbishing work in your house, your carpet holds the hazardous Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and other dangerous toxins and you and your family continue to inhale them for long after completing the work.

 

Recommendations:

The most obvious option in order to reduce your exposure to all these dangerous toxins is to remove all wall-to-wall carpeting and replace them with natural alternatives. The natural alternatives are often more expensive, but those with asthma, respiratory problems, and environmental illnesses may need to choose it.

Try to pick a natural fiber carpet such as wool with a natural backing. There are other green, natural options, such as corn leaves, sea grass and coconut husk fiber.

Wool is a great option as it is warm, soft and naturally flame retardant. However, you have to be careful with wool as most woolen carpets are dyed with synthetic dyes and chemically treated with a wide range of chemicals. You also need to make sure that the backing is not made of vinyl or synthetic latex. When laying the carpet use staples and avoid toxic glues!

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Aniko Sziraczki is a Kinesiologist with a background in Psychology, and the founder of Raising Toxin Free Children. She is passionate about children’s health and is devoted to informing parents about toxin-free living to keep their children healthy and well in a natural way. Read more on her ‘toxin free living’ blog at www.raisingtoxinfreechildren.com. She lives in London with her partner and her little girl who is attachment parented and is being raised to be healthy, eco-conscious and a responsible occupant of our beautiful Earth.


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