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Pediatrics/new carpet and offgassing


lulu wrote at 2009-04-30 16:52:21
yes, there are gases that cone out of new carpet. if i were you i would purchase organic carpet or rugs.

Leslie wrote at 2009-06-23 07:51:18
Offgassing is a serious health hazard. Medical professionals need to educate themselves on the dangers of formaldehyde and other toxic chemicals in new carpets which can trigger asthma and other allergic reactions. These chemicals are neurotoxins as well as allergens. There are steps that can be taken to reduce harm from new carpet, including requesting that installers air the carpet for several days before bringing it to your home to install it, ensuring ventilation for several days, with open windows, air purifiers, and sealing the carpet. I am looking for a townhouse to buy, and today saw a beautiful place, with new carpet, and the offgassing was so pungent, I coudn't stay in the apartment. I felt nauseous, lungs began to ache, and I got a headache. I don't know why the real estate agents don't air the place. What was shocking is the carpet was installed last year, and being closed up, with heat adn sunshine on the carpet, the chemicals have not dissipated. The smell was overwhelming. Sick building syndrome caused by carpet and other chemicals affect all of us, whether we are aware of the impact or not.

leslies wrote at 2009-06-23 07:57:59
This is an informative article on offgassing and its affect on the respiratory system.

Off-Gassing: Indoor Pollutants and Allergies

Chemicals from household furniture and new products can trigger allergy symptoms. Get more information about off-gassing, and how to reduce your exposure.

By Gina Roberts-Grey

Medically reviewed by Rosalyn Carson-DeWitt, MD

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You’d expect dust or mold to trigger allergy symptoms. But few people expect their computer, carpet, or kitchen cabinets to cause an asthma attack or a case of hives.

Off-gassing and Allergies

Indoor air pollutants, however, including those that are “off-gassed” from common products, can irritate your respiratory system, says Clifford W. Bassett, MD, vice chair of the Public Education Committee of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology and an assistant clinical professor at Long Island College Hospital, in Brooklyn, New York. “This is especially true of people with seasonal and indoor allergies, asthma, and chronic sinusitis.”

According to Dr. Bassett, off-gassing can cause a whole host of allergy symptoms, ranging from puffy, red, and watery eyes to a runny nose, congestion, coughing, and asthma-like symptoms. Off-gassing “can also cause skin irritations like rashes, itchiness, and hives.”

The released chemicals can prove irritating on their own or can exacerbate allergy symptoms you may already have, Bassett says. For example, exposure to new carpet could worsen existing symptoms of a pollen allergy, even if those symptoms had been in check before the exposure to the carpet. “Anything that affects the nose, sinuses, or respiratory system can have an impact on allergy symptoms,” Bassett explains.

Which Products Off-gas?

“Off-gassing” refers to the evaporation of synthetic compounds used in manufacturing a host of products, from cars to computers and toys to tennis balls. Two of the most identifiable types of off-gassing are the telltale “new car” and “new carpet” smells. Adhesives, wallpaper, and paints are other common offenders, Bassett says — “Their smell makes it obvious that they’re giving off gas.”

Off-gassing can also be odorless. A study conducted at Stockholm University in Sweden found that certain computer monitors emit a chemical — triphenyl phosphate — that can cause allergic reactions. Triphenyl phosphate is a flame retardant that's added to many plastics (in the case of the Swedish study, it was contained in the computer monitors’ casings). When turned on, the monitors' heat caused the compound, which is not bonded to the plastic, to start evaporating. This raises the question: Does exposure to such compounds at the levels typically found in new products pose a potential long-term health risk?

“We don’t yet know” the answer to that, Bassett says.

Low levels of formaldehyde, a colorless and sharp-smelling gas, can also accumulate indoors from construction materials and household products like new furniture, cabinetry, and floor coverings. “This is actually very common,” says Bassett. Some studies have suggested that people who are exposed to formaldehyde for long periods are more likely to experience asthma-related respiratory symptoms, such as coughing and wheezing. Formaldehyde also comes from paints, varnishes, and floor finishes (fresh finishes tend to produce high formaldehyde levels), as well as fireplaces and wood-burning stoves, and commonly causes burning and watering eyes, skin irritation, and rash.

Other common household items that off-gas with little to no odor include bedding, furniture, and cabinetry.

Cutting Off the Gas

The best way to reduce the chance of having an allergic reaction, says Bassett, is to avoid products that are likely to give off gas. Avoidance, of course, isn’t always an option.

So here are more tips on how to reduce off-gassing in your home:

   * Regularly move air through your home, either by using fans or, when weather permits, by opening doors and windows. This helps rid exhaust fumes from your home.

   * Many offending chemicals, such as formaldehyde, off-gas at higher rates when humidity and temperature are higher. Keep the humidity below 45 percent to decrease the amount of formaldehyde and other chemicals that will off-gas.

   * Planning on purchasing a new carpet or products that contain solvents, adhesives, and exposed particleboard? If possible, ask that they be opened and allowed to sit in a warehouse or in fresh, circulating air so they can off-gas before they come into your home. Or keep them in your garage (with a door or window cracked open) for at least a week before bringing them into your house. Off-gas levels of many compounds decrease dramatically in the first few days after they are removed from packaging.

   * Keep your computers in well-ventilated areas and take hourly breaks from the computer to cut down on your exposure.

Return to Allergies Management Center

Last reviewed: March 24, 2009 | Last updated: May 8, 2009

This content is selected and controlled solely by Everyday Health’s editorial staff and is funded by Claritin®. © 2009; all rights reserved.


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Dr. Frederick Blount


Pediatrician, retired. I trained at Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia some years ago and I did private practice here in Winston-Salem for 30 years until I went full time to the Wake Forest Medical School until retirement.

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