Healthy Flooring Choices - Watch Out For Indoor Pollutants!
Create a healthy home by choosing flooring that helps reduce indoor allergies.
Did you know that levels of air pollutants indoors may be two to five times, and occasionally more than 100 times, higher than outdoors?
We Americans spend about 90 percent of our time indoors, so it’s important to eliminate indoor air pollution sources that cause allergies and asthma.
You can start taking action from the ground up by making healthy flooring choices.
Hard surface floor coverings are less likely to collect and harbor dust mites and other allergy-causing sources such as mold and animal dander. They’re also easier to keep clean and allergen-free with water and a mild solution.
You should also consider the level of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) present in certain flooring finishes and sealants, carpet backings, adhesives and pads, and vinyl flooring. VOCs give off gases that can irritate the eyes, nose and throat.
Some of the top low-VOC, hard-surface flooring choices, when used with low-VOC or VOC-free adhesives are:
- Hardwoods and bamboo – with unfinished or pre-finished products, select a low-VOC or VOC-free finish.
- Stone and ceramic tiles – which are virtually VOC-free.
- Linoleum – a natural alternative to vinyl.
To give your hard-surface flooring a softer appearance, add natural fiber area rugs. They can be regularly washed in the washer, dry-cleaned, or aired to eliminate dust and molds.
Keep in mind that the biggest offender in harboring allergens is wall-to-wall carpeting. New carpet can be a source of chemical emissions. Carpet, carpet installation adhesives and padding emit VOC compounds that cause allergic reactions in some people.
If you do choose carpet, make sure that it’s low-pile and low-VOC to lessen exposure to allergens. Also, ask the dealer to roll out and air the carpet before installation and leave your home during and right after installation, if possible. During and right after installation, you can reduce exposure to most chemicals by opening doors and windows, as well as using window fans or room air conditioners.