The NIBS–IEQ Products & Materials committee recommends use of flooring products that are low or non-emitting and are non-porous. Consideration should also be given to maintenance products that will be necessary for the type of flooring selected. For instance, stripping and refinishing of wood flooring introduces hazardous chemicals into the air and are intolerable for persons with multiple chemical sensitivities. When selecting a floor system, the type of adhesives used with the flooring system must also be considered.
Stone, terra cotta, granite, marble, terrazzo, ceramic, brick, or sealed concrete flooring are best tolerated by individuals with chemical sensitivities, and provide a healthy, comfortable environment for the greatest number of people.
Wood flooring that has not been recently stripped or refinished and older vinyl flooring is also often well tolerated by people with chemical sensitivities.
Rubber, linoleum, and cork flooring are not recommended.
The Resilient Floor Covering Institute (RFCI) has recently introduced a new certification program for low emitting flooring products called the FloorScore™ program. The FloorScore program is a building materials emissions testing program that requires both independent laboratory testing and third-party certification to show compliance with CCHPS 01350 VOC emissions limits and includes certified site audit and documented control system requirements. The third-party certifier, Scientific Certification Systems, Inc. (SCS), not only reviews the results of the product VOC emissions report but also reviews raw material inputs and manufacturing processes to ensure that a product is consistently manufactured. SCS conducts site audits of manufacturing plants to ensure a quality management plan exists for continuing compliance of the product as defined in SCS-EC-10-2004 Environmental Certification Program—Indoor Air Quality Performance.
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 are reservoirs for tracked-in pesticides, dust, dust mites; foster mold growth; and absorb and re-emit 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 that involves emission testing that is based on CHPS Section 01350, and includes additional requirements. Carpets labeled with the CRI Green Label Plus are expected to have lower emissions than most carpets. However, even carpets emitting low levels of volatile organic chemicals (VOC's) can cause adverse health effects in certain individuals.
Some people with multiple 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):