Carpet Installers Speak Out
As the Medical Evidence Mounts

by Cindy Duehring
(Part 2 of 5)

"This isn't a profession for a young man to go into," says David Buechler, a Sawyer, North Dakota carpet installer who has been laying carpet for twenty-fie years. "I don't know any other carpet layers whose health isn't affected by the job in some way."

Buechler experiences a number of adverse symptoms when he works with carpet. "The fibers and the chemicals affect your lungs and your sinuses," he says. "Every time I lay carpet I sound like I have a cold by the end of the day. I get hoarse, shortness of breath, and my sinuses clog up. I get sinus infections on a regular basis. Also, my doctors attribute the arthritis I developed to inhaling the fumes from the carpet glues."

He adds, "Cancer, especially lung cancer, is a big concern. I know of about eight carpet layers in my area that were laying carpet when I started out, who have all died of lung cancer. They never made it to retirement."

Insurance companies are aware of the risks, according to Buechler. "It's hard to get life insurance if you're a carpet installer, he states. "And they require a really tough physical for medical insurance if they find out you lay carpet. I have also been told that if I hire a young guy to work for me I need to get a release signed so that if he's laying carpet and comes down with cancer years down the road, I won't be held responsible."

Some of Buechler's customers have had adverse health effects from carpet. He now regularly cautions new customers to stay away during installation, to keep off the carpet for several days during the initial high off gas period, and to ensure the house is continuously ventilated. He voices concern that some carpets appear to be more toxic than others, and he advises people not to take any chances if their carpet causes chronic health problems. He would rather see someone remove their carpet than have serious long-term consequences. Buechler says he has found that some people who react to one carpet may not react to another.

To reduce the total amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that people are exposed to from carpet systems, "we are going almost one hundred percent away from the glue down carpet," says Buechler. "We tack it down because the glues off gas a lot of toxic solvents and add to the toxicity that is already present from the latex backing. Rubber padding can be a toxicity problem, too." He tells of a time when a young neighbor girl laid on a roll of rubber padding while watching cartoons on TV: "She fell asleep and when she woke up, all she had was slits for eyes because her face was so puffed up. I wouldn't have recognized her if I hadn't known who she was. And she was only on that rubber padding for just one hour." Buechler no longer uses a van to haul carpet to his work sites because he says fumes in the enclosed space were affecting him. On some days, "by the time I'd get to the job, I'd have such a headache I could hardly function," he says. "Now I have a pickup with a cab. I keep the carpet in the back away from me and I feel much better."

One of the most dangerous aspects of carpet laying is the seaming process, according to Buechler, who explains, "The warnings I get along with the carpet say do not breathe the fumes and do not burn or get near flames and so on. But you have to during the seaming process. You really get exposed to some nasty fumes because you use a hot seaming iron to melt the vinyl and plastic material. It's about like throwing a record in the oven and letting it melt up. Think about what inhaling those fumes could do to a person."

After twenty-six years of exposure to fumes from carpet laying, gluing, and seaming, Gerald Schmidt of Grand Forks, North Dakota, was finally forced to quit when his symptoms reached disabling proportions. He started laying carpet as an apprentice in 1966 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, then went into business on his own in 1968. Schmidt has noticed a change in the toxicity of carpet over the years. "I've had a carpet warehouse for eighteen years," he says. "When we first bought the warehouse, we used to have jute backed carpet with the burlap on the back. Back then we had a terrible problem with mice building nests in the carpet rolls and we had to keep mouse traps out all the time. Now I haven't had a mouse in there in twelve to thirteen years. There are no live bugs in there anymore either. Not even ants. The only animals we've found in the warehouse were a couple of dead squirrels. It's the same warehouse. Nothing has changed but the carpet."

After installing carpet for many years, he gradually developed a variety of neurological and respiratory symptoms including numbness, tingling, dizziness, ringing in the ears, shortness of breath, joint pain, forgetfulness, fatigue, irritability, and tremors.

I never dreamed my life would turn out this way," says Schmidt. "I loved my work. It was a good job. All I ever wanted was to do an honest days' work in a steady job to put a roof over my head, feed my family, and put aside a little -- just enough to retire on some day. I never counted on this. Now I'm in terrible pain and I shake so much that I can hardly function. I drop stuff, I can't hang on to things, I forget what I go to get. I'm weak and I get really tired. I can't sleep well. My temper and my mood swings are really bad."

Schmidt was evaluated at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and by neuropsychiatrist Richard Nelson, M.D., in Billings, Montana. Both evaluations found evidence of peripheral neuropathy. Blood tests at Mayo Clinic revealed high levels of arsenic. Arsenical pesticides are registered for use in carpets.(1) Further testing showed elevated benzene, a neurotoxic solvent found in carpet.(2) His blood work also showed various immune abnormalities consistent with the patterns being found in chemical injury. (3,4) Schmidt has elevated TA1 cells, decreased B lymphocytes, autoimmunity (meaning that the body's immune system has mistakenly identified its own tissues or cellular components as foreign and has directed antibodies against them). He has autoantibodies to smooth muscle, central nervous system, and peripheral nerve myelin. Neurometric testing including electroencephalogram (EEG) P300 latency assessment evidenced cognitive impairment.

To express his concerns, Schmidt called the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) and told them, "Hey, we've got a big problem out here, and it's not just me. I know of other carpet layers who are disabled from the chemicals in carpets." According to Schmidt, the CRI's response was simply a denial of the problem, and claims that they had never heard of any problems from other carpet layers. "I was outraged," says Schmidt. "I told them, we've given all the working years of our lives to the carpet industry. We've supported you all the way and we've sold your product. And now when we've been made ill by it, where are you? You've abandoned us carpet layers and have just left us in limbo out here, unable to work, unable to pay our bills. I've got children to feed, and as long as you and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) won't own up to the problem and acknowledge that chemicals in carpeting are disabling some people -- especially the carpet layers who are getting sick -- then workers' compensation won't even pay my medical bills for the neurological and immunological testing I had to do to prove I've got real damage."

Motivated by the CRI's denials, Gerald Schmidt sent a copy of all his medical testing reports, including the letters from his doctors, to the CRI by certified mail and sent copies to Congressman Mike Synar [K-OK] and Vice President Al Gore. "I just wanted to have proof that I told them so they can't deny that they've received complaints from carpet layers," states Schmidt.

Since then, has the CRI changed its tune? When asked if they had heard of any health problems from carpet layers or whether any carpet layers had complained, CRI Director of Public Relations, Kathryn Wise stated, "No. We're not aware of any." (5)

"Why are they turning their back on us?" asks Ron Braithwaite, a carpet installer from Perth Road Village, Ontario, Canada. "I contacted the United States CRI about a year ago and told them I was having health problems from carpet. They told me I was the only one. Canada's carpet institute said the same thing. So I said, 'Okay, I'm the only one.'" He later spoke with other carpet layers in Canada who were experiencing adverse health effects from the carpet and found they were being told the same thing. "So as long as they're telling us that, then we think we're the only ones with the problem and that it's not affecting anybody else," he says.

Thirty-nine-year-old Braithwaite started laying carpet when he was ten years old, helping his father who was also a carpet layer. He says, "My dad died of lung cancer when he was fifty-eight. Another carpet layer who was a good friend of his died the same way. There are a lot of carpet layers in our area that died of cancer and developed other serious health problems when they were relatively young."

Other the years Braithwaite developed a number of symptoms which gradually worsened to the point where he is now disabled. Neurological testing, including a SPECT scan (single photon emission computed tomography) conducted in the nuclear medicine department of Ottawa General Hospital, verified damage to his brain, especially to his posterior parietal lobes. His doctors are convinced that the solvents and other chemicals in the carpets and glues Ron was working with are the cause. He experiences severe concentration problems, dizziness, memory loss, ringing in his ears, erratic heartbeats, shortness of breath, erratic sleeping patterns recurring nosebleeds, weakness, coordination problems, sharp pains, irritability, gastrointestinal problems, numbness and sensations of pins and needles in his lower arms and hands. He has found that his symptoms worsen when he is around the low levels of petrochemicals commonly found in many public buildings, which limits him still further.

Braithwaite wants his health back. But that is not all he wants. "I want to know the names of all the chemicals I have been working with for the past twenty plus years. I should have a legal right to know what has been poisoning me," he says. "I want to know why I was never given any warnings about any of this all the years I laid carpet. And I want to know how to tell my two young children that their daddy is too sick to go to their school play or go on the swing with them, or help build a snowman. I want to know how to tell my children why mommy and daddy seem to be arguing all the time because their daddy can't provide for his family the way he did for years, and because we are worried about the future of our children."

Ron Braithwaite and his wife Donna mortgaged their home to open a local corner store. Donna Braithwaite often works eight-hour weeks at their store in an effort to support their family. As Ron struggles to cope with hsi disability, he spends his time gathering information regarding the health effects of chemicals in carpets, and plant to start a support group. He wonders, "How many other families, including vulnerable little children, have to be made seriously ill by carpet before the CRI honestly admits to the problem and stops putting out products that place people at risk?"

Nothing has been proven to date that links carpet and ill health effects," says the CRI's Kathryn Wise. (5)

"This type of denial is just exactly what the tobacco industry has done for years and to a large degree is still doing," attorney Kevin McIvers of Santa Barbara, California, states. "It is based on a type of technical scientific nonsensical argument where they take the position in court -- and in my mind this takes tremendous nerve for them to say this -- that there is no scientific evidence that smoking cigarettes causes cancer. And then of course folks like us say 'Well then, why do people die of cancer three or four times as often when they smoke cigarettes than when they don't?'

You would think that finding is pretty scientific, but what they are talking about is the technical argument. There is no one who can completely explain exactly what chemicals in cigarette smoke causes what precise biomolecular changes that actually mutate the cell and lead to that downward path to cancer. So because of that, they say there is no evidence that it makes you sick, and that's nuts. Just because you don't understand the mechanism doesn't mean it's not happening. People get around these products and they become dreadfully ill. But that is not enough for the tobacco industry and the CRI."

A quick scan of the medical and scientific literature reveals the following:

  • A higher incidence of neuro-psychiatric illness including visuo-analytical and perceptual impairment was found in floorlayers than in controls. The effects were associated with glues and contact adhesives and their action on the central nervous system. (6)

  • A study of carpet and textile workers in northern Georgia found that compared to other Georgians, they had a higher incidence of deaths from lymphocytic leukemia and testicular cancer. (7)

  • An increased risk of oral and pharyngeal cancer was found for male carpet layers, as compared to control subjects, in a study conducted in four areas of the United States. (8)

  • A study found that carpet layers exposed to solvents are at increased risk for the types of neuropsychiatric disorders associated with solvent exposure, as compared to control subjects. The greater the exposure, in terms of number of years worked, the greater the risk. (9)

  • EPA researchers warn that carpet tends to provide a reservoir for tracked-in chemicals adsorbed to dust, including pesticides, lead, heavy metals, and polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons. The amount of lead found in dust in carpet where a child plays has been found to be the best single predictor of the toddler's blood level of lead. (10,11,12)

  • The abstract of a Russian study states, "People working in modern carpet industry are exposed to a complex of factors in different origin, the most important among which are general vibration and styrene vapors. It has been found out in animal experiments simulating working conditions, that the central nervous system is the most sensitive" to chemical exposure in the carpet industry. (13)

  • The ASTM E981 method used by Anderson Laboratories in case-controlled studies has shown the presence of measurable concentrations of sensory and pulmonary irritant chemicals off gassing from carpet. Neuromuscular toxicity has also been measured with the test. (14)

Anderson Lab's test results have been duplicated by an independent lab hired by the CRI (15), and by the U.S. EPA in a side-by-side test at Anderson Labs. (16) Mice exposed to air passing over a seven-inch square piece of carpet at room temperature exhibited respiratory and neurological symptoms, and some died. (17)

The ASTM E981 method was developed by Yves Alarie, Ph.D., in the 1960s under the direction of the U.S. Department of Defense. It was specifically developed to reliably extrapolate mouse data to humans. It has been recommended as a reliable product test in a report commissioned by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and also by Daniel Costa, of EPA's Health Effects Research Laboratory, Pulmonary Toxicology Branch. (2, 18) Costa wrote regarding the ASTM E981, "We support the use of the mouse irritancy test for detecting, and possibly for comparing potencies among, indoor air contaminants ... We believe that if the mouse irritancy test is positive upon exposure to a suspected indoor contaminant, then the atmosphere is likely to be irritating to humans." (18)

This method has been used extensively by both government and industry over the years to determine irritant effects of chemicals and to extrapolate those results to humans. A recent review article found that at least 295 chemicals had been evaluated by the ASTM E981 method in the published scientific literature. Eighty-nine of those chemicals have occupational exposure limit values (threshold limit values) against which the adequacy of the ASTM E981 tests were compared. The ASTM E981 was found to be a reliable indicator for human occupational exposure limit values, and the author concluded, "There are no other toxicological methods that have been validated, calibrated, and used with results available on such a large number of airborne chemicals. Certainly, the bioassay has withstood the test of time and the various mechanisms by which sensory irritation occur have now been well-delineated. Analysis of the now much larger database proves that the bioassay is even better at predicting safe levels of exposure for humans than originally suggested by Alarie." (19)

At the CRI's request, Dr. Alarie visited Anderson Labs to review the quality and methodology of Anderson's handling of the ASTM E981, and found that it was scientifically valid. The CRI then hired Alarie to try to duplicate Anderson's results. Alarie testified at a June 11, 1993, carpet toxicity hearing before the House Subcommittee on Environment, Energy, and Natural Resources, that "her description of the effects observed was correct and her experimental design was valid," and that he was able to replicate her results four times. (15)

Mark Goldman, manager of Anderson Labs, reports that autopsies on mice exposed to carpet fumes using the ASTM E981 method have shown a variety of lesions including brain and liver lesions, as well as kidney degeneration. The consulting pathologist noted no predictable pattern for the lesions, "but, you don't expect to see lesions in such a short-term low level exposure," Goldman says.

In spite of the evidence, the CRI distributed an April 1993 memorandum throughout the carpet and rug industry, calling the test used by Anderson Labs into question and stating that the CPSC, EPA, and independent labs had all "failed to discover any evidence linking carpet and ill health effects." The memorandum, which was distributed to carpet retailers as well, assured them that a class action lawsuit regarding carpet toxicity would be "defended vigorously and successfully." (20)

Carpet installer Schmidt says that after he contacted the CRI, he received a call from a representative within the carpet industry, who told him his problems couldn't possibly have come from carpet and that the mouse tests run by Anderson Labs were ridiculous. Schmidt responded to the man, "What? Do you think those mice just died on cue? They've run the test a number of times you know. Not all of the mice die, and other researchers have repeated the test successfully. They must train those mice pretty well to just kick over and die."

Anderson labs reports that the respiratory and neurological symptoms in the mice have correlated well with the symptoms of the carpet owners. The preliminary results of one case are particularly striking. Pulmonary specialist Ganesh Rhagu, M.D., associate professor of medicine, chief of the chest clinic and medical director of the lung transplant program at the University of Washington School of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care, had a patient who was exposed to new carpet and developed hypersensitivity pneumonitis. Dr. Rhagu sent a piece of the patient's carpet to Anderson Labs to see what kind of effect it would have on the mice.

The tests have been run twice, both times with case controls. Lab manager Mark Goldman reports "Dr. Rhagu found the same type of pathological changes and damage in the tissue biopsies from the lungs of the carpet exposed mice as in the patient who was exposed to the same carpet. Normally hypersensitivity pneumonitis is a chronic disease, but the mice developed it after only forty-eight hours of exposure. The implications are so serious, we are not willing to make a solid statement at this time, until more data are in. So, bear in mind that these are early results and more tests are under way to confirm the data."

Goldman has been contacted by some carpet installers who say they have been made ill by carpet, but he also hears from carpet installers who say they have had no problems. Goldman comments "Most of the time if a carpet layer is fairly sensitive, he will get out of the business. If he gets sick and nauseated doing the work when he first starts out, he's not going to stick around and he'll switch to another profession that doesn't make him sick. I hear carpet layers say, 'I've been doing this for twenty years and it hasn't bothered me at all.' So there is a self-selected group of people in the business who aren't sensitive, but they are also, in some cases, the ones who wind up coming down with caner."

Hazardous Chemicals in Carpet

The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) has voluntarily agreed to a new carpet label which states, in part:

"IMPORTANT HEALTH INFORMATION: Some people experience allergic or flu-like symptoms, headaches, or respiratory problems which they associate with the installation, cleaning, or removal of carpet or other interior renovation materials. If these or other symptoms occur, notify your physician of the symptoms and all materials involved. SENSITIVE INDIVIDUALS: Persons who are allergy-prone or sensitive to odors or chemicals should avoid the area or leave the premises when these materials are being installed or removed."

In spite of the warnings on the new label, CRI's Director of Public Relations, Kathryn Wise, states, "All the scientific reports have told us that there is nothing that they can prove that is harmful to health in carpet." (5)

However, an April 1991 New York Attorney General consumer alert regarding carpets warns that "many of the chemicals emitted are toxic and some are known or suspected to cause cancer and birth defects." (21)

Much of the difficulty in pinpointing the problem arises from the large number of chemicals involved. A toxicologist within the carpet and rug industry has revealed that there are at least one thousand different chemicals in the manufacture of carpets. "In December of 1992, at the request of one of the major chemical companies in the carpet and rug industry, Dr. Alan Broughton and I met with one of their toxicologists and the attorney that represented the carpet industry," says immunotoxicologist Jack Thrasher, Ph.D. "We were interviewed regarding the abnormal immunologic test results we had found in numerous cases of carpet exposure. They also asked us what our recommendations for research would be with respect to carpet problems. We were told at that meeting that there are at least one thousand different chemicals used in synthetic carpeting and that to look at the combinations and permutations would be a tremendous task."

One example of a hazardous contaminant or possible permutation appears to be formaldehyde. According to the carpet and rug industry, formaldehyde is not used in the manufacture of carpets. Wise states, "There is no formaldehyde in carpet, it has not been used in the manufacture of carpet in over ten years." Michael Kronick, executive director of the Canadian Carpet Institute in Ottawa, has gone on record stating that formaldehyde, benzene, and toluene are not used in the manufacture of carpet. (22)

Yet, all three of these chemicals are emitted from carpet according to a number of emissions tests run on new carpet samples fresh from the mill. (2, 23, 24, 25) One study commissioned by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) found formaldehyde was one of the top eight emissions. Their report warns that the levels of formaldehyde, 4-PC, and butylated hydroxytoluene did not drop off rapidly, and may be "more important with respect to health and comfort effects. (2)

After the initial installation period, the levels of the chemicals emitted from carpets are usually low. However, many researchers are extremely concerned about the possible synergistic and cumulative effects of the multitude of chemicals involved in carpet. The health effects of specific combinations of chemicals in carpets have not yet been studied.

Listed below are just a few of the hazardous chemicals that have been found in carpet emissions tests. Not much is known about their health effects from chronic low-level exposure. The health effects listed are generally associated with higher exposure levels, but Grace Ziem, M.D., Dr.P.H., warns that sensitive individuals may experience adverse effects at lower exposure levels than the average individual. Further, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health warns that there is no safe level of exposure to a carcinogen, as the cell damage can occur at extremely low exposure levels.

EPA's Dan Costa and a report commissioned by the CPSC both recommend the ASTM E981 test, used by Anderson Laboratories as a reliable test to determine human health effects from both individual chemicals and entire products. (2, 18)

Some of the following chemicals are also listed on EPA's Community Right to Know List which requires manufacturing facilities to prepare Material Safety Data Sheets and notify local authorities of the presence of the chemicals.

A number of the following chemicals have been tested with the ASTM E981 by labs other than Anderson's. Their published results indicate that adverse effects in mice are a reliable indicator of adverse effects in humans. Those chemicals are marked by the following statement, "Published studies indicate the ASTM E981 test is a reliable indicator of adverse human health effects."

Partial Listing of Hazardous Chemicals Found in Carpet

Acetone (23) - It is included in EPA's Toxic Substances Control Act Inventory and is listed on EPA's Community Right to Know List. It is considered a severe irritant. Human systemic effects by inhalation include changes in electroencephalogram, changes in carbohydrate metabolism, nasal effects, respiratory system effects, nausea, vomiting, and muscle weakness. Adverse reproductive effects have been reported in animal experiments. Acetone can react vigorously with oxidizing chemicals. Published studies indicate the ASTM E981 test is a reliable indicator of adverse human health effects for acetone. (19, 26, 27)

Bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (25) - It is a suspected carcinogen. (25, 29)

Benzene (2, 23, 25) - It is included in EPA's Toxic Substances Control Act Inventory and is listed on EPA's Community Right to Know List. Benzene is a confirmed human carcinogen. It can produce myeloid leukemia, Hodgkin's disease, and lymphomas by inhalation. It is also considered a human poison by inhalation. It is a moderate skin irritant and a severe eye irritant. Human systemic effects by inhalation include blood changes and increased body temperature. Animal experiments have found teratogenic [birth defects] and adverse reproductive effects. Human mutation data have been reported. Research indicates that effects are seen at less than 1 parts per million (ppm). In one study, exposures needed to be reduced to 0.1 ppm before no toxic effects were observed. (27)

Caprolactam (25) - It is moderately toxic by skin contact. Animal experiments have shown it to be teratogenic. Other adverse reproductive effects have been reported in experiments. Human mutation data have been reported. Exposure symptoms in humans include cough, skin and eye irritation. (27)

Diethylene glycol (25) - It is included in EPA's Toxic Substances Control Act Inventory and is listed on EPA's Community Right to Know List. It is a suspected carcinogen, supported by experimental carcinogenic, tumorigenic and teratogenic data. It is an eye and human skin irritant. (27)

p-Dichlorobenzene (2, 25) - It is included in EPA's Toxic Substances Control Act Inventory and is listed on EPA's Community Right to Know List. It is a confirmed carcinogen. Animal experiments have found teratogenic effects (birth defects). In humans it can cause headache, eye irritation, swelling weight loss, nausea, vomiting, and cirrhosis of the liver. Published studies indicate the ASTM E981 test is a reliable indicator of adverse human health effects for p-dichlorobenzene. (19, 26, 27)

Formaldehyde (2, 23, 25) - It is included in EPA's Toxic Substances Control Act Inventory. It is a confirmed carcinogen. Animal experiments have reported adverse reproductive effects. Human mutation data has been reported. In humans it can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, bronchial spasm, lung irritation, dermatitis, aggressive behavior, and olfactory (smell) changes. Frequent or prolonged exposure may cause hypersensitivity to subsequent lower level exposures. Published studies indicate the ASTM E981 test is a reliable indicator of adverse human health effects for formaldehyde. (19, 26, 27)

Hexane (23) - It is included in EPA's Toxic Substances Control Act Inventory. In humans it can cause lightheadedness, nausea, headache, weakness, eye and nose irritation, dermatitis, chemical pneumonia, giddiness, hallucinations, structural changes in nerves, motor neuropathy, and respiratory irritation. Animal experiments have found adverse reproductive effects and birth defects. Mutation data have been reported. (26, 27)

Styrene (2, 24, 25) - It is included in EPA's Toxic Substances Control Act Inventory and is listed on EPA's Community Right to Know List. It is a suspected carcinogen and human mutation data have been reported. Animal experiments have found adverse reproductive effects. In humans it can cause eye and nose irritation, drowsiness, olfactory (smell) changes, and defatting dermatitis. Published studies indicate the ASTM E981 test is a reliable indicator of adverse human health effects for styrene. (19, 26, 27)

Toluene (2, 23, 25) - It is included in EPA's Toxic Substances Control Act Inventory and is listed on EPA's Community Right to Know List. Mutation data have been reported. Animal experiments have found adverse reproductive effects. Human effects include fatigue, weakness, confusion, euphoria, dizziness, headache, dilated pupils, dermatitis, central nervous system recording changes, hallucinations or distorted perceptions, motor activity changes, psychophysiological test changes, and bone marrow changes. Published studies indicate the ASTM E981 test is a reliable indicator of adverse human health effects for toluene. (19, 26, 27)

Vinylcyclohexene (28) - It is included in EPA's Toxic Substances Control Act Inventory. It is considered to be moderately toxic by inhalation. Animal experiments have evidenced carcinogenic, tumorigenic, and adverse reproductive effects. (27)

Xylenes (2, 25) - It is included in EPA's Toxic Substances Control Act Inventory and is listed on EPA's Community Right to Know List. Animal experiments have found adverse reproductive effects and birth defects. In humans it can cause dizziness, excitement drowsiness, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and dermatitis, coordination problems, and staggering gate. Published studies indicate the ASTM E981 test is a reliable indicator of adverse human health effects for xylenes. (19, 26, 27)


  1. 1. National Federation of Federal Employees Local 2050, Environmental Protection Agency; Hirzy, W.B. "List of Pesticides Registered for Carpet and Indoor Uses." (Febraury 4, 1993).

  2. Consumer Product Safety Commission memorandum and final report from interagency agreement on volatile organic chemical emissions from carpets. CPSC-IAG-09-1256 (August 13, 1993).

  3. Heuser, G.; Vojdani, A.; Heuser, S. "diagnostic Markers of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity." in Multiple Chemical Sensitivities. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, National Research Council (1992)

  4. Heuser, G. "Diagnostic Markers in Immunotoxicology and Neurotoxicology." Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology 1(4):v-x (1992).

  5. Kathryn Wise, Director of Public Relations, Carpet and Rug Institute. (Personal communication, December 17, 1993).

  6. Ekberg, K.; Barregard, L.; et al. "Chronic and Acute Effects of Solvents on Central Nervous System Functions in Floorlayers." British Journal of Industrial Medicine 43(2): 101-106 (1986).

  7. O'Brien, T.R.; Decoufle, P. "Cancer Mortality Among Northern Georgia Carpet and Textile Workers." American Journal of Industrial Medicine 14:15-24 (1988).

  8. Huebner, W.W.; Schoenberg, J.R.; et al. "Oral and Pharyngeal Cancer and Occupation: A Case-Control Study." Epidemiology 3(4): 300-309 (1992).

  9. Axelson, O.; Hane, M.; Hogstedt, C. "A Case-referent Study on Neuropsychiatric Disorders Among Workers Exposed to Solvents." Scandinavian Journal of Work Environment & Health 2:14-20 (1976).

  10. Roberts, J.W.; Budd, W.T.; et al. "Chemical Contaminants in House Dust; Occurrentces and Sources." Indoor Air '93: Proceedings of the International Conference on Indoor Air Quality and Climate 2:27-32 (1993).

  11. Davies, D.J.A.; Thorton, I.; et al. "Relationship Between Blood Lead and Lead Intake in Two Year Old Urban Children in the UK." Science of the Total Environment 90:13-29 (1990)

  12. Budd, W.T.; Roberts, J.W., Ruby, M.G. "Field Evaluation of a High Volume Surface Sampler for Pesticides in Floor Dust." Environmental Protection Agency, EPA 600-3-90-030, PB 90-192006 (1990).

  13. Rumiantsev, G.I.; Prokhorov, N.I.; et al. "Experimental Studies of the Combined Effect of Styrene in General Vibration." (in Russian) Gig Sanit 9:32-36 (1990).

  14. Anderson, R.C., "Toxic Emissions from Carpets." Indoor Air '93: Proceedings of the International Conference on Indoor Air Quality and Climate 1:651-656 (1993).

  15. Written submitted testimony of Yves Alarie before the Committee on Government Operations, Subcommittee on Environment, Energy, and Natural Resources, U.S. House of Representatives. Re: carpet research (June 11, 1993).

  16. Anthony Pollina, Representative Bernard Sanders' aide and direct witness to the Environmental Protection Agency and Anderson Laboratory side-by-side ASTM E981 test. (Personal communication June 17, 1993).

  17. Duehring, C. "Carpet. Part I: EPA Stalls and Industry Hedgest While Consumers Remain at Risk." Informed Consent 6-11, 30-32 (1993).

  18. Tepper, J.S.; Costa, D.L. "Will the Mouse Bioassay for Estimating Sensory Irritancy of Airborne Chemicals (ASTM E981-84) be Useful for Evaluation of Indoor Air contaminants." Indoor Environment 1:367-72 (1992).

  19. Schaper, M. "Development of a Database for Sensory Irritants and Its Use in Establishing Occupational Exposure Limits." American Industrial Hygiene Association Journal 54(9):488-544 (1993).

  20. Memorandum from the Carpet and Rug Institute to the Carpet Industry and Retailers. Re: carpet toxicity, Anderson Laboratories test results, and a class action lawsuit. (April 1993)

  21. New York State Department of Law, Abrams, R. "Chemicals in New Carpets Pose Potential Health Hazard." Consumer Alert (April 1991).

  22. Kronick, M. "Helath Problems concerns Carpet Industry But Many Chemical Allegations Untrue." The Kingston Whig-Standard (november 8, 1993) p. 5.

  23. Kirchner, S.; Karpe, P.; cochet, C. "Characterization of Volatile Organic Compounds Emission from Floor Coverings." Indoor Air '93: Proceedings of the International Conference on Indoor Air Quality and Climate 2:455-460 (1993).

  24. Black, M.S.; Work, L.M.; et al. "Measuring the TVOC Contributions of Carpet Using Environment Chambers." Indoor Air '93: Proceedings of the International Conference on Indoor Air Quality and Climate 2:401-405 (1993).

  25. Pliel, J.D.; Whiton, R.S. "Determination of Organic Emissions from New Carpeting." Appl. Occup. Environ. Hygiene 5:693-699 (1990).

  26. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office (June 1990).

  27. Lewis, R.J. Sax's Dangerous Properties of Industrial Materials, New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold (1989).

  28. Kenneth Reed, Ph.D., Industrial Hygienist, Reed & Associates, (Personal communication with Jack Thrasher, Ph.D. regarding chemicals isolated from carpet via a water trap).

  29. National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. "Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances." DHHS (NIOSH) Pub. No. 87-114. Washington D.C.: Government Print Office (1988).

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  • Inspired Lifestyles News - Inspiring, motivating and empowering quotes, stories and articles
  • Healthy Lifestyles News - Articles, resources and products for living a healthier, more vibrant life
  • Inspired Biz News - Articles and resources for a more spiritual, whole-living work environment
  • News & Sale Announcements - Sales events, new products and specials