What is causing VOC emissions from carpets?

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) can be emitted from carpets due to a process known as off-gassing. These can depend on several factors like the chemical composition:

  • The chemicals used in carpet manufacturing, interior furnishings, and building materials may release VOCs.
  • Styrene, a component of the latex used for the carpet’s backing, is a significant potential source of VOCs.
  • Other minor sources include dyestuffs and textile auxiliaries if they haven’t been thoroughly rinsed out during the production process.

Initial Emissions

When new carpets are installed, they can release VOCs into the air. However, emissions from new carpets are among the lowest of any indoor furnishings. During the first few weeks, extremely small quantities of VOCs (which pose no health risk) may be released. After this initial period, emissions typically cease.

The carpet industry has taken steps to reduce VOC emissions

  • Reformulating carpets to minimize emissions.
  • Airing out carpets before installation.
  • Over the last two decades, manufacturers have closely monitored and lowered VOC emissions from their products, for example with backings (adhesives) that do not contain styrene polymers.
  • Strict criteria set by organizations like GUT (Gemeinschaft Umweltfreundlicher Teppichboden e.V.) ensure that carpets meeting these standards do not contribute to indoor air pollution.

Types of VOCs

VOCs are a group of hydrocarbon compounds that readily evaporate at room temperature. Three common types found in household products:

  • Formaldehyde: Used in industry as a preservation and bonding agent.
  • Organochlorides: A collection of powerful chemicals, including pesticides, solvents, and cleaning fluids.
  • Other VOCs occur in furniture, fabrics, and various household items.

Choosing Low VOC Carpets

  • Opt for low VOC carpets that have been manufactured to reduce emissions.
  • These carpets avoid materials like PVC, Styrene-rubber backings, and bonding agents that can lead to gas and vapor release.
  • Remember, properly selected and maintained carpets pose no health risk and contribute to comfortable indoor spaces. If gluing a wall-to-wall carpet, opt for solvent-free adhesives to minimize VOC emissions.
Low voc emission from carpets

Low emission carpets are typically made with non-styrene containing binders, like:

  • VAE (dispersion)
  • EVA (hot melt)
  • PP/PE/PA hot melt powders
  • PE (dispersion)