You may have noticed labels such as “FloorScore® Certified” or “Carb2 Compliant” label when purchasing new flooring. These are special industry certifications that rate the floor’s impact on the air quality of your home. Unfortunately, most consumers are unaware that new floors can impact indoor air, sometimes aggravating symptoms relating to asthma and allergies. We will briefly discuss how this can happen and the industry’s leading certifications here.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
VOCs are harmful chemical compounds that, traditionally, have been the byproduct of manufacturing certain flooring products. Over time, these compounds can be released into the home’s air. Unlike the air outside, these indoor particles often have no where to go and become trapped inside the home.
When enough VOCs are in the air, they can aggravate allergy and asthma symptoms. This is especially true if they are allowed to build up over time along with dust, pet dander and other harmful chemicals. For years, these compounds could be found both in the floors themselves and in the adhesives used to install them.
As awareness of VOCs grew, the industry began to improve the manufacturing and installation of floors. Manufacturers now ensure that many of their flooring lines are free of VOC particles before they are sold at retail. They are also changing the way that adhesives, grout, carpet backing and other installation materials are designed to avoid VOC contamination.
There are a variety of industry-leading certifications for flooring designed to prevent VOC emissions. While you may find some or all of the following labels packaged with your flooring, the presence of just one is sufficient:
Greenguard: This industry certification confirms that a given floor choice has been certified for low chemical emissions. Even if any VOCs do enter the air, their presence is minimal and can be avoided with regular cleaning.
FloorScore®: FloorScore® certifies both the floors and the materials (grout, adhesives and underlayments) used during installation as safe for indoor air quality.
CARB2 Compliance: California passed the CARB legislation to reduce the amount of formaldehyde released from products created from wood, including floors. CARB2 expanded these provisions for composite wood flooring. Basically, it took the previous certifications and turned them into a state law.