10 Tips for Understanding Carpet Labels

Know Your Hazardous Chemicals

In the late 1980s, a controversy erupted when workers in the EPA office headquarters (of all places) complained that the new carpets were making them sick. Consumers were warned that the culprit was none other than the chemicals applied to carpets in the manufacturing process, including stain resistance, flame retardant and anti-microbial chemicals.

Though you might like that "new carpet smell," the chemical responsible for it (4-phenylcyclohexene) is one of those suspected of causing sickness. In addition to that, critics claim that certain carcinogens are emitted from carpet, like formaldehyde, toluene, xylene and benzene.

In response to the complaints about flulike symptoms and respiratory problems, the CRI began an initiative to inform consumers about the complaints as well as reduce the levels of the supposedly harmful chemicals. The carpets that met the low-emitting standards set by CRI got a "Green Label." Check the carpet label for this certification, which we'll talk more about on the next page.