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FURNISHINGS : Roll Out Green Tag Carpet Program

July 17, 1993|From Associated Press

Can your new carpets make you sick? Probably not, but research indicates that some people are more sensitive than others to the fumes from household products, including carpets. Rashes, watery eyes, a sore throat, headaches and fatigue are possible symptoms from breathing chemical emissions, researchers say.

That's why the Carpet and Rug Institute, a manufacturers' group, has developed a labeling program to identify carpets that meet specific requirements for indoor air quality.

Criteria for the labeling program were determined by Air Quality Sciences Inc. in Atlanta. The company tests sealed samples pulled from carpet mills across the country. The carpets that meet the standards are affixed with a green Indoor Air Quality Testing Program label. The label is not a guarantee that the carpet will not cause health problems, but it does indicate that the carpet is environmentally responsible by meeting the testing requirements.

Since the program is new, some carpets do not yet have the green label. If a carpet you are considering does not have a green label, you can call the Carpet and Rug Institute to see if the carpet was denied the label or has not been tested. Have the carpet's manufacturer, name and style number handy. The Carpet and Rug Institute's phone number is (800) 882-8846.

Carpet emissions are always strongest at installation. As a carpet airs out, chemical emissions from fibers, backing and adhesives will dissipate. With proper ventilation over the course of a few days, fumes and emissions should be reduced enough that they won't affect the average consumer.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission offers the following recommendations for installing new carpet:

* Ask your retailer or installer to unroll and air out the carpet in a well-ventilated area the day before installation.

* Request low-emitting adhesives, if adhesives are needed.

* Ventilate the newly carpeted area with fresh air. Open doors and windows, if possible.

* Use window fans and room air conditioners to exhaust fumes outdoors. If you have a ventilation system, be sure it is working before the carpet is installed, then run it for 48 to 72 hours after carpet installation.

* Leave the house during, and for several hours after, installation.

* Contact your carpet retailer if objectionable odors persist. However, if you suspect that a chemical from your carpet or anything else in your home is making you ill, contact your state health department, environmental protection agency or air quality control agency for information about testing. Or, contact a local air-quality company that tests for other chemicals, such as radon.

New carpet gives off some chemical emissions, but in the long run, carpet doesn't affect the air quality of your home very much.

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