I just got new carpet and I have a few questions about offgassing...

(insert fart joke here)

The carpet looks great, but I read that it offgasses formaldehyde, toluene, xylene, and other great VOCs. I’ve paid my dues with toluene back when I was repairing rafts, so I’ll do just about anything short of removing my wonderful new carpet to avoid breathing this crap.

Does anyone have any suggestions on what steps I can take to limit the offgassing? I’ve found one product that helps, but it’s fairly labor-intensive and I’d have to apply it again every year. There has got to be more than just one product available to treat new carpet. Any ideas? Thanks.

Maybe I can be of a little bit of help. The term is outgassing. If you’ve tried to do a Google search and come up empty, perhaps that is why.


Just live your life and don’t worry about it. There are far better things to worry about in life than the gases from your carpet killing you…

I’d be very leery of products like this.
Look, the chemicals you’re worried about are in your carpet. They have high vapor pressures. They’re going to come out. You can slow the process down by slathering goo on the pile, but the stuff is still going to come out eventually.
Do you want a few months long blast of formaldehyde, or would you rather be exposed to a lower level for years?

Thanks for the advise, though I am living my life, choosing what things to ignore and what things to concern myself with. I’m pretty laid-back, and I don’t get worked up about things that get other people worked up into a froth, like politics and religion. My carpet is giving me a headache, so I’m looking for a way to address the issue.
On a side note, you said a couple days ago, " As a somewhat disinterested observer, I agree that the board is going downhill. The quality of both the questions and answers in GQ has markedly declined since the beginning of the subscription era,…". This was your chance, man. You could have offered some serious quality here, but your best was “Don’t worry about it.” :rolleyes:

Argh, I hate it when this happens…point taken.

Here’s a suggestion: lower the pressure in your house/apartment, or see if you can get some airflow moving through your house. A few box fans in the leeward windows and wide open windward windows will speed up the outgassing, and vent it to the environment. Just do the “venting” when you’re outside doing yard work, or have the wife take the kids somewhere else for the day while you stick to a part of the house that isn’t being vented.

Since the amount of chemical leaving the carpet is fixed, you could conceivably use this method to deplete the toluene from the carpet entirely – although I don’t think that’s very likely.

Yeah, I don’t think you’re going to do much to keep the VOC’s from escaping. What you can do is pump up the airflow so the concentration that you’re breathing is lower. Fans & open windows and be glad it’s not winter.

I suppose a carpet shampoo or something might also pick up some VOCs that would otherwise slowly evaporate.

OK, thanks for the responses. We’ve decided to pass on the treatment an just let the fans keep whirling.
In an interesting twist to the thread, I’m a bit embarassed to say that I’m taking Absolute’s advise and not worrying about it… :stuck_out_tongue:

Also, sorry for the use of the rollseys guy. I didn’t think about how much it bugs me when I see it before I used it myself…

You’re not supposed to post the OK, Thanks message until after my post.

“Outgassing” and “offgassing” are both used. I think some distinguish between them based on whether the stuff coming out is part of the solid or something that it accumulated from a more concentrated earlier atmosphere, but most people use them interchangeably.

The formaldehyde problem, I read, can be improved considerably if you expose the carpet to ammonia. If you can close up the room and leave it for a day or weekend with several bottles of strong ammonia solution dumped into pans or buckets, you should convert formaldehyde that is still inside the carpet into something else (don’t know what).

You can speed up all the outgassing by having the temperature higher.

You can leave the carpet in a roll and wrap it in plastic and suck air through the thing like a giant cigarette, so you can drive off the strongest earliest outgassing someplace other than your living space.

You can also throw a polyethylene painting tarp over it and suck air from the center of this and out a vent, concentrating the nasty things away from your living space.

Obviously I have occupied myself obsessing over this exact problem…

The Environmental Working Group has written about this, I believe. Google it.

I believe the consensus view is to keep your house well ventilated 24/7 for the next 2-3 weeks. Open your windows, use portable fans, run bathroom exhaust fans, use your screen door, if you have one. If you’re especially sensitive, stay away from your home as much as possible over the next couple weeks. Box fans usually work poorly at clearing air. You could purchase a high-velocity fan for under $70 and it should make a big difference. FWIW, you can buy carpeting with very low VOCs/contminants/irritants, but it costs more. Also this: trust neither an ozone generator nor an ionizer, to clean the air.

As someone who has experience (albeit some time ago) in the green building thing, I can say that you really have nothing to worry about. If there were a problem with your carpet offgassing (how I’ve always heard it used), it wouldn’t be sold.

Keep windows open, etc.