4 Easy Tips for Buying a Rug

21 March, 2019

There are lots of things in this world that are obviously bad for you.  Like living next to a superfund waste site and inhaling car exhaust.  But did you know you can bring environmental pollutants into your home just by buying the wrong products?  Potential hazards include cleaning products, makeup and furniture and of these, rugs are often among the worst offenders.  Especially if you have a baby or toddler in the house that spends a lot of time on the floor.

There are some industry standards for rugs—for instance, the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) tests rug samples for 14 volatile organic compounds.  Volatile organic compounds are pieces of chemicals that break off of products like furniture or scented garbage bags and these pieces are so small you can actually breathe them in.  But the CRI doesn’t test for a host of other harmful chemicals and materials that can cause endocrine, neurological and other disorders in you, in your children and in your children’s children.

We spent months researching the best and easiest ways to find rugs so pure they contained none of these harmful substances.  We tested our rug and other rugs on the market, we used the latest technology and toxicology research and after all those man-hours, we’ve boiled it down to four easy tips for you, the consumer. 

Tip 1

Avoid PVC and latex based rugs

The majority of cut pile rugs are constructed with a PVC or latex base, and these contain plasticizers or heavy metals fillers that are toxic and become a source of indoor air pollution.  Even if the rug’s label says it’s 100% jute or wool.  Before buying a rug, ask the retailer or manufacturer for a complete ingredients list to make sure you’re not bringing harmful substances into your home.

Tip 2

Say no to flame retardants

When our bodies absorb flame retardants from product surfaces, they accumulate in our fat cells and have been shown to cause serious reproductive and developmental issues such as reduced fertility, lower mental abilities and autism.  Unfortunately, there are hundreds of flame retardants on the market so it would be impossible to give you a possible ingredient list that was both usable and exhaustive.  But examples of commonly used flame retardants are: chlorinated paraffins and decabromodyphenil ethers. 

To avoid flame retardants, look for wool-based rugs, which are naturally flame resistant, or polyester-based rugs or carpet that are not constructed with PVC or latex.  Then confirm with the retailer or manufacturer that the rugs are, in fact, free of flame retardants.

Tip 3

Don’t buy rugs claiming to have stain repellant or anti-odor “benefits”

This is simply a marketing tool to make you think this rug has magic properties.  The problem is the chemicals the manufacturer uses to make the rug repel stains and odors include: PFOA and PFOS  groups of fluorinated compounds that repel both grease and water. They  have been shown to accumulate in the human body and cause reproductive and developmental issues, high cholesterol, and it has been classified as suspected carcinogen. 

Tip 4

Organic and natural may not mean safe

If you see a manufacturer or retailer claiming a rug or textile is organic or natural, you unfortunately still need to ask questions.  Wool may still contain permethrin (an anti-moth chemical) and stain repellants, while plant-based rugs such as Jute may have high pesticide residues and flame retardants.  Even natural latex may contain flame retardants because it is not naturally resistant to fire.

When in doubt, ask questions!

If the salesperson can’t answer them, reach out to the manufacturer of the rug. Manufacturers are obliged to inform you of what’s inside their products and to perform appropriate tests to ensure their products meet the claims they make.  If you get a vague response from the manufacturer, it’s probably best to move on and find a brand you trust.

Author Serena Pozza Materials Health Geek