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Carpets in Schools?

Carpets in Schools?

Professionals in all facets of indoor air quality research agree that carpets should not be in schools. The concern isn’t only that new carpets emit fumes from a variety of chemicals.

Carpets, particularly older ones, can also harbor high levels of microbiological contamination. Ken Martinez, microbiological specialist with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, believes that while a decision about carpets should be made on a case-by-case basis, his “general” opinion” is that schools should not have carpets. A further concern about placing carpets in schools is that they can also become reservoirs for lead and pesticides; the contaminants are tracked onto the fiber from shoes and boots.


  • If a school chooses Terazzo tile or sealed vinyl composition tile over carpeting, it will save millions of dollars in installation, maintenance and replacement. Mary Oetzel, president of Environmental Education and Health Services, Inc., studied the cost of flooring from five major city school systems in five states, representing 458 schools. The average replacement cost over 40 years for carpet was around $400,000; the cost for vinyl composition tile (VCT) or Terazzo was around $50,000. The savings by using carpet alternatives averaged $350,000.
  • Make sure that carpet, if used, is an inert product—not a low emission carpet, but a low potency, low toxicity carpet. Low emission carpets only mean that the company has set lower limits of emissions instead of eliminating the chemicals.
  • Don’t purchase carpets that contain the chemical 4-PC, a little-understood chemical that was isolated from carpet after works at an EPA office building became ill following a new carpet installation.
  • If using carpet, makes sure that it is placed where there is no moisture, and provide adequate ventilation.
  • Prevent conditions that encourage microbial growth, such as around food sources, humidity, and wet boots.
  • Cure new carpet by outgassing all chemicals and glues before the children are exposed in the school. The best time for installing carpets in schools is in June. Avoid glues whenever possible.

Read more: Family, Healthy Schools

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Annie B. Bond

Annie is a renowned expert in non-toxic and green living. She was named one of the top 20 environmental leaders by Body and Soul Magazine and "the foremost expert on green living." - Body & Soul Magazine, 2009. Learn Annie's latest eco-friendly news on anniebbond.com, a website dedicated to healthy and green living.

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18 comments

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6:51AM PST on Feb 25, 2013

Children with asthma can definitely benefit from not being in rooms with carpeting or drapes or even dusty blinds. However, the absolute worst part of school for someone with sensitivities is the chalkboard and someone wearing too much cologne.

4:04PM PST on Feb 24, 2013

I think lack of cleaning would be a big thing.

4:45AM PST on Feb 24, 2013

Schools should play more attention to their students with allergies.

3:30AM PDT on Sep 10, 2012

Hvala na clanku.

5:22PM PST on Mar 7, 2012

I first visited this site.I have read this blog, I have been told that there is mostly good points which are krismahjong
adding the importance of blog. Nice work, Keep to write more good news.

12:54PM PST on Dec 29, 2011

Thanks for the article.

12:43PM PDT on Nov 6, 2010

Thanks for the article. That was very eye-opening. By the way Teresa, here in the USA we believe in varying the way children learn. For the most part they sit at desks, or depending on what's being taught they may sit in groups at work tables, or outdoors or they sometimes sit on the floor during story time or if a special guest visitor is in the classroom. etc. I thought I'd try to enlighten you a bit since you seem to be in need of that. Have a nice day!

7:50AM PDT on Oct 5, 2010

I'm surprised, because in Poland, children sit at desks at school. Do they sit on the floor in the U.S.?

7:50AM PDT on Oct 5, 2010

I'm surprised, because in Poland, children sit at desks at school. Do they sit on the floor in the U.S.?

2:52AM PDT on Oct 5, 2010

thankyou for post

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