What is Really in Your Carpet?
Many carpet owners believe that the cleanliness of their carpet is reflected by its color and odor – or lack thereof. They believe that if it looks clean and doesn’t smell bad, it must be clean. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Carpets old and new contain many different threats to the health of humans and pets. These threats can be extremely serious and go largely unknown to the general public. The E.P.A. (Environmental Protection Agency) cites indoor air pollution as a top cause of both short-term and long-term diseases. Grossbusters’ mission is to shed some light on some of the hidden dangers that may be lurking in your carpet and provide the necessary guidance to the best ways to keep your carpet at its safest.
Brand New Carpet Commonly Contains:
Known to negatively affect the nervous system, benzene is a known carcinogen and is commonly found in drugs, plastics, rubbers, dyes, glues, and solvents; It may also be in your carpet! The American Petroleum Institute (API) released a statement in 1948 saying “it is generally considered that the only absolutely safe concentration for benzene is zero.” Additionally, The US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) categorizes benzene as being a human carcinogen, and detrimental to human health. Benzene is such a potent toxin, the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) labels any substance that is made up of 0.1% benzene, a carcinogenic hazard.
Possible health complications associated with overexposure to benzene include: leukemia, drowsiness, dizziness, rapid heart rate, headaches, tremors, confusion, unconsciousness, nausea, vomiting, sleeplessness, convulsions, bone marrow damage, decrease in red blood cells, weakening of the immune system, and even death!
This Benzene derived carcinogen is commonly found in gasoline, rubber cement, paint thinners, acrylic paints, etc. Toluene is used as a street drug and is “huffed” to get high. This chemical is slightly less toxic than benzene but can still cause serious health problems.
Overexposure to toluene can cause: tiredness, confusion, weakness, drunken-type actions, memory loss, nausea, loss of appetite, loss of hearing, loss of color vision, light-headedness, sleepiness, unconsciousness, and even death.
This ketone is a fairly well-known chemical around the house. If exposure to this chemical is limited, any health issues are likely to be averted. However, measurable amounts of acetone have been found in brand new carpet, thus exposing you and your family to it for long periods everyday. Its most commonly known usage is in nail polish remover. Acetone is also present in: industrial and laboratory grade thinners as well as fuel additives for increased engine performance. Acetone is extremely flammable! If the concentration of acetone in your carpet is great enough, this can pose a potential fire hazard and even cause your home to burn more quickly if a fire should start.
Acetone generally causes mild irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat when contact is excessive. The most dangerous part of acetone is its immense fire hazard. In temperatures as low as -4 °F, it only takes a 2.5% concentration of acetone in the air for a flash fire to start from as little as minor static discharge!
Otherwise known as methanal, formaldehyde is a very widely used chemical. The most well-known usage is in the embalming process to stall the decomposition of deceased carcases. There are also a host of other uses internationally. There have even been cases where formaldehyde is found in new carpet. Formaldehyde is quickly becoming known as a dangerous chemical to come in contact with.
Exposure at concentrations as little as 0.1 ppm (parts per million), formaldehyde causes: headaches, burning of the throat, difficulty breathing, aggravated asthma symptoms. Studies also suggest that exposure to formaldehyde causes reproductive problems in women including increased rate of miscarriages and menstrual complications. Damage to pulmonary function has also been noted. Ongoing studies are consistent in suggesting that direct contact with formaldehyde is detrimental to health and should be avoided.
Old, Used Carpet Commonly Contains:
These tiny arachnids are the most common bugs found in human habitation. They feed on flakes of dead skin which are left behind from people within the household. Dust mites are one of the leading causes of asthma and allergic symptoms throughout the world. Both their bodies and their fecal matter left behind can trigger these symptoms. At a rate of up to 100 eggs laid every 5 weeks, dust mites can be a real pain to deal with, especially if you are an asthma or allergy sufferer.
If you have a cat, dog, or other animal that goes back and forth between outside and the house, chances are you have at least at one time or another, dealt with fleas. However, even if you don’t have any pets at all, there still may be fleas in your carpet. There are over 2,000 different species of fleas – even fleas attracted specifically to humans. Generally, fleas attracted toward one specific (host) species, will also bite other hosts as well.
Flea bites are generally just irritating and annoying. However, there are circumstances when flea bites can be very serious, even life threatening. Since fleas are parasites, they have a direct line to the bloodstream when they bite their host. More serious illnesses associated with flea bites include: flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) secondary skin irritations, anemia, tapeworms, and stomach flu. In addition, if the flea that bites its host is carrying a disease of its own, it can pass that disease on to its host. The number of possibilities off illnesses that a flea can pass on are endless. The most notable example of this was a documented case where an epidemic broke out when fleas were transmitting the bubonic plague from rodents to humans.
Other Bugs and Larva
There are a number of other bugs and their eggs that may infest your home and dwell in your carpet. The South Sound area saw dozens of infestations of bed bugs in 2010 alone. Entire apartment buildings had to be shut down for weeks in order for exterminators to secure them. Carpet cleaning will not remedy an infestation, but it will help to prevent them. Carpet is an ideal place for these creatures to live and thrive.
Dirt and sand pose a number of different threats to members of your home. Bacteria and germs present can cause sicknesses in people with weak immune systems such as babies or elderly. Also, dirt and sand act as a net for hair, bugs and eggs, dust, dander, and toxins to get caught in.
Allergy and Asthma sufferers probably already know that hair and dander really set them off. What they might not know is that the carpet in a home acts as a filter for the air. When this “filter” gets full of hair, dander, and everything else we have listed so far, it stops collecting these things from floating freely throughout the air. This not only creates a situation where the air quality is poor, it constantly exposes the allergens trapped in the carpet, to the sufferer.
Needless to say, the carcinogens and allergens that may be lurking in your carpet, are not things that you or your loved ones should be breathing in on a daily basis. What can you do? Vacuum regularly. Thoroughly dust your entire house at least once per week. Also, have your carpet, area rugs, upholstery and mattresses cleaned on a regular basis.
Do not waste your time or money using rental carpet cleaning machines, such as the Rug Doctor. They are not nearly as effective as professional hot water extraction methods, largely because they don’t use hot enough water. Grossbusters Carpet Cleaning uses a hot water extraction system (known to some as “steam cleaning”) with water temperatures exceeding 220 degrees! Extremely high-powered vacuums lift away all of the unwanted pollutants in your carpet so you can feel safe in your home.
For information on how often you should be vacuuming and having your textiles cleaned, please view the Cleaning Frequency Guidelines table on our FAQ page. All of the information in the table is directly from the E.P.A.
For more information about the dangers of polluted indoor air, click here to view the official E.P.A. page on the subject.
Visit our Website at http://www.grossbustersonline.net
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*disclaimer: Grossbusters Carpet Cleaning does not offer extermination services, nor do we offer hazardous materials removal, neutralization, or containment. Our services are merely intended as precautionary measures and any incidental removal or extermination of dangerous chemicals or bugs, respectively, are solely part of the precautionary measure. If you have a high level of chemicals that are dangerous, or you think may be dangerous, notify the fire department immediately. If you have an infestation, call an exterminator right away.*