Stone, terra cotta, granite, marble, terrazzo, ceramic, brick, or sealed concrete flooring is best tolerated by individuals with chemical sensitivities. Wood flooring that has not been recently stripped or refinished is also often well tolerated by people with chemical sensitivities.
Carpet systems contain a myriad of chemicals in their fiber, dyes, backing, padding, bonding agents, adhesives, antimicrobials, flame retardants, and stain resistance, anti-static, and color fast agents. They also are reservoirs for tracked-in pesticides, dust, dust mites; foster mold growth; and absorb and remit volatile organic chemicals like fragrances and paint fumes. In addition, many solvent-based agents used to clean carpets emit toxic fumes.
The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) has established a rating system and testing program (Green Label Plus) that may be used in lieu of the emissions testing criteria of California's Collaborative for High Performance School (CHPS) Section 01350 (See Products & Materials Committee).
Some people with chemical sensitivities have found that carpet squares with self-adhesive backing have been the best tolerated new carpeting. Others have reacted adversely to such products. More research is necessary to determine what factors in these carpets and/or which brands are best tolerated.
Older carpets are usually better tolerated by people with chemical sensitivities than new ones, as long as they have not become moldy.
Recommendations regarding carpeting (design, materials, and O&M issues)