Saturday, May 14, 2011

Silent Killers of Man: Part One

Tile vs Carpet vs Hardwood Floor:
After purchasing a new home 2 months ago, I thought of removing the old carpet and upgrade to either tile or hardwood flooring. The options were tremendous and so were the prices!! With a meager budget, I narrowed down my choice to buying something eco-friendly and safe with minimal effect on indoor air quality. But to buy something healthy, one has to pay a hefty price!! So with each option ranging from tile, to carpet, to wood, I was surprised to read about the harmful effects that each may have depending on the make and quality.

The main categories for Tiles are: ceramic, porcelain, vinyl, cork, travertine, marble, granite. The price range was different with each type of tile from $2.99 to $7 and up, per square foot. The factors in the selection process for me were: Price, quality, health (indoor air quality), the type of backing to be used under the tile, adhesives and workmanship involved. With ceramic and porcelain tiles I had to make sure it didn’t have lead, bromine etc. I couldn’t find any maker that claimed in writing that their product had no lead in their tiles. I called some companies and they verbally promised their product was lead free which wasn’t a good answer for me (till I saw it in writing!!). Some companies were nice enough to give me the specifications to their product which after reviewing for a particular tile I would be interested in, I would find that the specs indicated a very slight, a miniscule of lead present in the tile. Now imagine if each tile had a miniscule of lead present in it, how much of it would be present collectively over a wide square footage area!!! Besides when (a) tile was to be removed, the dust released would be extremely dangerous for those around the area as it would contain lead!!!!
So I dropped the idea of ceramic and porcelain as I have small kids. I moved on to carpeting. Since carpets are made from petroleum by-products, they let out VOCs unless you use wool carpet which is out of my budget. Off-gassing will likely continue for some time. Dust mites, and other allergens were also taken under consideration. To read more on carpets, the VOCs in carpets, and other related questions visit:

I moved on to travertine, marble or granite which I am still exploring. But I also entertained the idea of hardwood flooring. Laminate is out of question because of the formaldehyde issues.
But for hardwood flooring you have to be careful too. Is pure wood better than engineered wood? Engineered wood uses layers of wood and each layer is glued by formaldehyde. In that case you have to make sure it has an E0 or E1 rating, a rating developed by EU which is used to measure the amount of formaldehyde leaked into the air by off-gassing. For a detail explanation on the formaldehyde issue and the ratings and what else to look out for, please visit:

I promise these sites are helpful for the health-conscience!!!

As for my flooring, I am still leaning towards hardwood floor vs travertine and marble. Hardwood floor increases home value in the long run. It can be healthy especially if I choose to use floating rather than glue or nailing it down. Any suggestions??

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