Toward Greener Carpets

How To Be Snug as a Bug With Your Rug

The carpet under your feet may look harmless enough, but tell that to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) staffers who suffered breathing problems and flu-like symptoms after new carpet was stretched over the floors of their Washinhton, DC headquarters back in 1987. Some collapsed. Some were rushed to the hospital, dizzy and nauseous. The building was evacuated several times. A University of Arizona study, ironically tucked inside the EPA’s file cabinets, suggested a possible cause: the new carpet smell, caused by 4-phenylcy-clohexene (4-PC) in the glue that holds carpet fibers together. Sure enough, those most effected worked in areas where 4-PC levels were highest. The EPA ripped out the carpet in 1989—and decided that future carpets would be 4-PC-free.