How to Choose Low VOC Flooring for your Home

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VOCs in flooring can be harmful to children and adults with respiratory disorders.
VOCs in flooring can be harmful to children and adults with respiratory disorders. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

At one time, anyone looking for flooring that was low in Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and other harsh chemicals that reduce indoor air quality (IAQ) would need to perform their own research by requesting Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) from several different flooring suppliers. Today, however, that kind of laborious search is not necessary. VOC data for flooring is now readily available from independent third-party organizations that have tested and certified carpeting and other flooring products that meet stringent national standards for environmental health and safety.

Look for the Green Label or Green Label Plus logo on carpeting brochures as well as carpet pads and adhesive products. Carpet products that feature those insignia are among the lowest in VOC emissions.

Check out the FloorScore list of vinyl and rubber tile flooring to see which materials have been tested and certified as among the lowest in VOC content. The FloorScore rating system confirms that the selected resilient flooring materials will not lead to unhealthy indoor air quality.

Choose laminate, cork or bamboo flooring that is certified by the Greenguard Environmental Institute as low-VOC. The Greenguard logo means that those floor products are also free of other potentially harmful chemicals.

Study the list of adhesives and finishes certified as low-VOC by the Greenguard Environmental Institute, Green Seal or Scientific Certification Systems before installing wooden flooring. A product bearing the logo of these organizations has been checked by an independent testing laboratory to confirm that it meets high environmental safety standards.

Tips & Warnings

  • The Carpet And Rug Institute is the parent organization that certifies those carpets, carpet pads, carpet adhesives and carpet-cleaning materials meet the highest standards of indoor air quality.
  • Be sure to use proper Personal Protective Equipment when removing old building materials, as they may contain lead, asbestos, and toxic chemicals.

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