According to Telegraph UK, carpets operate like toxic sponges, which absorb high amounts of chemicals, pollutants and poison, subsequently released into the air as toxic fumes. Environmental Engineer, John Roberts, also claimed that a normal carpet contains increased levels of dangerous chemicals. In fact, in various laboratory testing done on carpet dust samples, he found that carpet dust had alarming levels of pesticidal content, along with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
What Dangerous Chemicals are Found in Carpet Cleaners?
Greenpeace Research Laboratories explained in a research study that carpets contain different chemical additives, which may be deliberately applied during manufacturing phase or introduced externally via topical treatments needed in carpet maintenance.
Thus, one of the common reasons behind dangerous chemical concentration in carpets is the application of toxic carpet cleaners. Generally, majority of carpet care products only have mild effect and are relatively safe to use. While these chemicals protect carpets against dust mites and bacteria, they have a negative effect on human health and environment. Carpet cleaners with harsh chemicals can sometimes create a ‘toxic soup’, leaving behind dangerous residue that seeps onto carpet fibres. Chemical formulations of carpet-cleaning products are not created similarly, and those with higher dosage of harsh chemicals actually do more damage than good when not completely removed.
Among the chemical components included in carpet cleaners that pose severe health risks are the following:
This carpet cleaning agent used for dry carpet cleaning is known to cause dizziness and nausea. Perchloroethylene (Perc) is listed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lists as probable carcinogen. According to the World Health Organization, exposure to Perc increases risks of contracting leukemia, breast cancer and skin cancer.
Phthalates is commonly the fragrant chemical component of carpet cleaners. Although this chemical substance emits pleasant scent, it is not wholly safe to use. It can cause allergic reactions in young children and is also deemed carcinogenic.
Optical brighters such as Fluorescent brightening agents (FBAs) are used in carpet cleaning to give carpets a lustrous shine. They are weak when used as spot and stain removers but are ideal for giving carpets a brightened appearance. Studies show that optical brighters are less harsh than ammonia, but are likely to cause skin rashes and itching.
Ammonia is an eye and mucous membrane irritant. Human exposure to high levels of ammonia results in wheezing, broncholiar edema, chest pains and lung damage.
Formaldehyde is used as an antibacterial agent for carpet cleaners. When exposed to formaldehyde, a carcinogenic material, a person may experience allergic reactions, skin allergies, chest tightness and asthma.
When in concentrated form, naphthalene can be very dangerous to the nervous system and is potentially carcinogenic in nature. It can induce shortness of breathing, urinary irritation and headaches in children.
Effects of Carpet Cleaning Chemicals on Women, Men and Children
High chemical concentration of commercial chemical-based cleaners makes them hazardous to human health. Here are the long term effects of toxic chemical exposure in women, men and children:
According to the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine , ammonia and other chemicals can irritate mucous membranes when inhaled. Professional cleaners (mostly women) run the risk of having respiratory symptoms when exposed to these chemicals. However, the same cannot be said for male respondents. The study showed that women cleaners exposed to chemicals suffered from lung damage at accelerated rates compared to their male counterparts. However, the latter are prone to higher cholesterol, impotency and low sperm quality.
Research published by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health discovered that women exposed to high levels of chemicals gave birth to infants with medical conditions like insufficient weight, weak lungs and irregular head circumference, which may become severe complications in the future.
A Norwegian study also showed that amongst 5,000 women respondents, professional cleaners who did cleaning for a living and frequently exposed themselves to harsh chemicals had faster lung decline (17%) than the average person.
Babies and children have higher risks of contracting diseases due to chemical exposure. When children crawl over carpets and use it as a play area, they come in contact with chemically treated carpets. They are small and have underdeveloped immune systems, so they are prone to chemical inhalation or ingestion than most adults. This means that even minimal amount of toxic chemical can already poison babies, irritate their skin, lungs or retard their fundamental growth.
Professional Carpet Cleaners: Are They Also Using Toxic Chemicals?
While some chemicals used for carpet cleaning are linked to professional carpet cleaning, cleaning companies have developed different carpet cleaning techniques that are no longer chemical-based. The hot water extraction method, for instance, is a highly effective cleaning method that primarily uses water steam and mild cleaning solutions to extract deeply-seated dirt.
So while there is no need to become an expert in chemicals when it comes to carpet cleaning, it’s always best to talk to your professional carpet cleaners first, inquire about their cleaning procedures and the products they use. If you want professional carpet cleaning services that use only safe, natural and environmental-friendly cleaning solutions, contact Avalon Services today.