New Carpet Allergy

Question: "I want to have new carpet installed in my home, but my husband seems to be allergic or at least very sensitive to the smell of new carpet. Can you offer some suggestions?"

Answer: New carpet can be a source of chemical emissions. In addition to the carpet, the padding and adhesives all emit volatile organic compounds. Some people report symptoms such as upper respiratory irritations, headaches, skin rash , shortness of breath or cough, any fatigue, which they associate with new carpet installation. The distinct odor of new carpet is usually attributed to the chemicals 4-phenylcyclohexene (4-PC). This chemical can be detected at very low levels, but does not result in an unpleasant odor for everyone. The odor dissipates within a few days.

There are steps you can take that will make the carpet installation process easier for sensitive persons.

  1. Consult with your retailer. Ask for help in selecting carpet, padding and adhesives that have lower emissions.
  2. Request that the carpet installer follow the Carpet and Rug Institute's installation guidelines.
  3. Before installing the carpet, ask the retailer to unroll and air out the carpet in a well ventilated area.
  4. If possible, have the sensitive person leave the premises during and immediately after carpet installation.
  5. An important way to reduce exposure to carpet emissions is to increase the ventilation in the area. Open the windows and doors, and also use fans to increase the amount of fresh air exchange. Use the building's ventilation system for two or three days after installation.