There is nothing like the smell of freshly installed, wall-to-wall carpet, sort like that new car smell we have become accustomed to. Unfortunately, carpeting products have come under fire lately for producing some adverse environmental effects that can follow the carpeting throughout its product cycle. The good news is that carpet industry is starting to respond to many of these concerns by changing the way carpeting is manufactured, cleaned and even how to dispose of carpet in a more environmentally-friendly way.
One issue that has made headlines recently is the release of potentially harmful chemicals released into the exterior of a home by new carpeting. The carpet fibers, backing and adhesives used the in the manufacturing process can be a source of these chemicals. Many states and other governmental jurisdictions are starting to apply indoor air quality standards to home furnishing products like carpeting. Influential states like California have gone as far to issue standards for acceptable levels of certain chemicals used in the manufacturing of carpet. The trend is expected to continue and the carpet industry is responding.
Many carpet manufacturers have responded by changing the chemical makeup of their products including producing carpet fibers and backings that eliminate or nearly eliminate the use of polyvinyl chlorides or PVC's. PVC's are thought by some experts release or "outgas" from the carpet long after it has been manufactured and contribute to indoor air pollution.
Other potential environmental issues include how to properly dispose of the chemicals used to clean carpet and how to properly dispose of old carpeting and padding materials. There has been a trend toward the use of recycled materials is the production of carpet padding reducing the use of new or virgin materials. You can reduce the number of times carpeting needs to be replaced by starting out with a higher quality longer wearing type of carpet. Fewer replacements means less carpet going to landfills.
Carpet producers are also incorporating more recycled materials into their carpeting. Certain carpet fibers are recyclable and choosing those fibers can also reduce the amount of old carpet going the landfill. Wool carpet fiber, certain types of nylon and certain polyester fibers are recyclable. Some manufacturers are using recycled plastic beverage containers to make carpet fiber. Use of natural fibers like wool can greatly reduce the amount of chemical emissions reducing indoor air pollution.
One persistent problem associated with carpet maintenance is disposing of the chemical cleaners used by professional and do-it-yourself carpet cleaners. Many of the chemical cleaning solutions contain alcohols, enzymes, bleaching agents, dyes and butyls combined with any chemicals, soils and grease removed from the carpet during the cleaning process. Simply disposing of these compounds down the drain or nearest storm sewer may be a violation of any number of local, state and Federal disposal guidelines. Many jurisdictions require carpet cleaning professionals to use a containment system and properly dispose of waste chemicals in an approved location. If you employ a carpet cleaning service it may be wise to inquire about the disposal methods they use and insist that any applicable disposal regulations are followed.
Proper disposal of cleaning solutions and another problem associated with carpet cleaning and maintenance is the chemicals emitted in to the air from the chemicals used. The market is responding to emission and disposal concerns by offering more environmentally-friendly cleaning solutions. A seal of approval is given to those cleaning solutions that meet the standards of the Carpet and Rug Institute or CRI. Since there are more choices available in green cleaning solutions, always pick carpeting cleaning professional that works in a green and environmentally conscious way.