Is That Beautiful Carpeting a Danger to Your Health?

Yes! Especially for babies and toddlers in your home.

According to local carpeting businesses and carpet manufacturers, virtually all home carpeting is treated with soil and stain-resistant material, such as StainMaster® by Invista (formerly DuPont). These treatments often contain PFOA and related fluorinated chemicals. Unless you see a written note of non use of PFOA on your carpeting, or that you are considering buying, you should assume that it contains fluorinated chemicals.

EPA’s Science Advisory Board says the agency should classify PFOA as a “likely” carcinogen in humans. Several scientific studies have reported that PFOA is a carcinogen, liver toxicant, a developmental toxicant, an immune system toxicant, and also exerts hormonal effects including alteration of thyroid hormone levels. Animal studies show developmental toxicity from reduced birth size, physical developmental delays, endocrine disruption. It causes liver cancer and induces testicular and pancreatic cancer in rodents.

There is no consensus on its effect in humans, but do you want to take a chance?

You may wonder how the PFOA gets into your body from the carpets in you home. The carrier is plain old dust. The fluorinate soil and stain-resistant chemical slowly leaks out of the carpet fabric and onto the dust particles lying on the carpet fiber. Thereafter, they float around the home – as easily seen when a beam of sunlight enters a room, and evident from its visible presence on the wooden furniture. We inhale the floating dust. Worse, babies and toddlers crawling around on the carpeting will inhale much more dust than an adult walking around the room. A special danger for children!

One should ask, “Is it worth it to have soil and stain resistant toxic coatings on carpeting in my home?” If you value your health and that of your children, the answer is “No.”

What can a person do to eliminate or reduce this health hazard? Have no carpeting, or only that which does not have a soil and stain resistant treatment. Most simply, vacuum and wipe dust the furniture, often.

As will be discussed in future blog articles, household dust harbors other toxic substances, e.g., flame retardants and plasticizers that leak out of plastic enclosures of electronic equipment and vinyl leathers. It is a bleak picture but one that is easily corrected.


About donlouis

The author has long had a keen interest in staying healthy and fit, and in doing whatever I can to keep the natural environment unpolluted and a healthy space for people and all animals. As a former Board Member of a municipal water district, I regularly had to deal with the issue of water quality. I first became aware of radiation hazards from toxic materials while working on uranium for nuclear reactors. During the 1960s I was tuned into the global hazard from Strontium 90 raining down from atmospheric testing of nuclear bombs. While working in the chemical industry in later years I became aware of the many forms of chemical contaminants entering the environment every day, and resolved to do something about it. I am able to make sense out of the voluminous descriptions of common toxic chemical because of my training in chemistry, with a Ph.D. degree and several decades of research and development work in the chemical industry. My training and experience enables me to present to readers reliable and current information on the topic of chemical hazards in the environment, and their threats to human health. All my life I have loved hiking and camping in nature. Skiing, river kayaking, and tennis have been my favorite physical activities. Nature photography is my artistic passion.
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