Carpet and Health
Good News About Carpet and Air Quality
Indoor Air Quality "Green Label" Carpet Testing Program
The Quality of Indoor Air - Looking at the Big Picture
Today, indoor air quality (IAQ) is an important environmental consideration for many Canadians. It is important to know how to identify low-emitting products to preserve the environment. We spend up to 90% of our time indoors, at home and at work, often in energy-efficient buildings that lack sufficient fresh air ventilation. The quality of the outside air, activities in the building and the presence of people impact on these self-contained environments. Many new construction products, surface finishes, interior furnishings, floor coverings and renovating/cleaning agents play roles in the quality of indoor air.
Even though scientists tell us that new carpet is one of the lowest emitters, responsible carpet manufacturers have been proactive in their efforts to scrutinize their products and develop ways to further reduce product emissions.
In the public interest, the Canadian Carpet Institute adopted in the early 90s the (US) Carpet & Rug Institute’s Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Testing Program for Carpets that minimizes the potential of emissions from new carpet installations.
The goal of the Program is to help consumers with their buying decisions by identifying products that have been tested and meet stringent IAQ requirements.
How the Program Works
In the testing program for carpets, samples are collected from the manufacturer’s production process. Each sample is tested individually for chemical emissions by an independent laboratory, using highly sophisticated dynamic environmental chamber technology.
The test procedure follows an approved methodology recognized by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM D 5116-06). The total volatile organic compound (TVOC) emissions are identified and quantified as though the carpet was in a “real building” situation. Carpets are re-tested on an ongoing basis to ensure that the required emission levels are not exceeded.
Carpets are tested for
- total volatile organic compounds (TVOC);
- formaldehyde (to show that it is not used in the manufacturing process);
- 4-PC (4-phenylcyclohexene); and
Products that meet the emission criteria are allowed to display the Program's GREEN LABEL (usually found on the back of carpet samples). This authorized label displayed on the product contains an identification number assigned specifically to the individual manufacturer for each carpet that meets the criteria.
If a product exceeds the emission criteria, the manufacturer is so advised and is requested to make process or formulation changes in order to reduce the emissions. After the appropriate product modification, the manufacturer may resubmit the product for additional testing. Products that do not meet the test criteria will not thereafter be allowed to affix the GREEN LABEL until they meet the test program criteria.
The Canadian Federal government’s R-2000 Home Program authorizes the installation of GREEN LABEL approved carpet, in unlimited quantities, in these super-tight houses.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®)
Carpet that has been CRI/CCI GREEN LABEL approved earns one (1) point toward LEED® certification. The recycle content of the carpet and the transportation distance may also contribute favourably to the overall materials point system.
All of the Canadian Carpet Institute’s manufacturer members offer at least one line of GREEN LABEL approved carpet.
As a step to further reduce TVOC concentrations in the building environment, it is recommended that the building be adequately ventilated during, and for 48 to 72 hours after, installation. Of course, effective and regular cleaning also adds to good air quality.