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Carpet: When carpet is used, natural fibers such as wool and cotton are preferred because of having low volatile organic compounds (VOC’s). VOC’s can cause negative health effects in some people including headaches, nausea and dizziness. The “new carpet” odor that you sometimes can smell comes from a VOC called 4-phenylcyclohexene (4-PCH). A carpet that has been approved by the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) has been tested for emissions and would be a good choice. Carpets using recycled materials are now being produced and would be another environmentally friendly choice.

Solid Surfaces: Solid surface flooring such as hardwood, tiles, and polished concrete can provide better air quality than rooms with carpet. Solid surfaces do not contain VOC’s and they do not tend to trap pollutants and allergens. Choices such as cork and bamboo have the added benefit of being “rapidly renewable”. A resource is considered rapidly renewable if it regenerates within 10 years. Bamboo is the fastest growing woody plant, reaching full maturity in 5-6 years. Cork comes from the bark of the cork oak tree. It is harvested by hand without harming the tree. The bark will regenerate in 10 years, enabling the tree to be re-harvested.


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