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Can your carpeting make you sick?

The right carpeting can add an extra dose of coziness to a room. And during cold winter months, it can provide extra insulation and warmth. But it can also harm the air quality of your home by trapping pollutants and allergens and emitting harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air. If you choose to have carpeting in your home, you need to be especially careful about how you maintain it.

Havens for allergens

One way carpeting can harm the air is by trapping a wide variety of allergens and pathogens, from dust mites and mold spores to dust and pet dander, all of which can trigger allergic reactions. In addition, toxic gases in the air can stick to small particles that settle into the carpeting and can become airborne during even everyday activities, like walking on the carpet.

VOC emitters

Materials in carpets, padding and adhesives can also release VOCs and harmful particulate substances. Adhesives used to affix carpeting to the floor often contain benzene, a particularly harmful VOC. The health effects of these substances can include headaches, dizziness and other symptoms. They also have been linked to more serious conditions like cognitive impairment.

Keeping your home healthy

Careful maintenance and preventive measures are essential for warding off the potentially harmful health effects of carpeting. Vacuum several times a week with a HEPA filter, and deep clean your carpet once a year using dry steam cleaning. Also, avoid putting carpeting down in bathrooms and entryways — because they often are damp, they’re likely environments for mold. If you’re installing new carpeting, try to have it unrolled and aired out in a well-ventilated area for 72 hours, and use glue or adhesives that contain low levels of VOCs. Also, a smart air purifier with a HEPA filter, like Coway Airmega, can help eliminate harmful particles and allergens from the air.