Age Matters: Why You Should Replace Your Pre-2004 Los Angeles Carpet

In 1975, California passed Technical Bulletin (TB) 117, one of several flammability standards in the state. It required furnishings like carpets to be able to resist open flames for at least 12 seconds; even if the carpets don’t become necessarily fireproof, at least it can delay the combustion long enough for emergency response to be taken. As a result, the industry had to come up with a compliant retardant.

Old Carpenting

This gave birth to polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE), an inexpensive fire retardant incorporated into carpets. It was widely used in California and the U.S. during the 1970s, but soon, its toxicity came into question. According to studies, inhaling PBDE residue (usually in the form of foam padding dust) increases risk of a 4.5-point decrease in IQ levels, and a 3.3-point increase in hyperactivity among five-year-olds.

In 2004, PBDE was phased out and banned in both the U.S. and European Union. The United Nations followed suit in 2009, including it in the list of banned persistent organic pollutants. Although it was banned, however, PBDE-carrying carpets still remain to be available in the market today. This means that homeowners, if not careful, could still expose themselves and their families to this toxic chemical without necessarily knowing about its presence.

Fire retardants are still used in some carpets, and this should be fine for as long as it does not contain PBDE. Check for the letter T on the carpet label, as required for all treated carpets under the Federal Standard for the Flammability of Mattress Sets (16 CFR Part 1633) of 2007, to confirm if the carpet material you are purchasing is treated with fire retardant. Of course, it is wholly up to your personal choice if you will instead prefer to get a Los Angeles carpet not treated with any chemical.

One alternative you can get are Shaw carpets, one of the many brands offered by stores like Cheap Floors Los Angeles, a primary supplier of nylon carpets. Nylon is vulnerable to open flame, but it can resist catching fire, thanks to its high ignition temperature (424o to 532o C). Other fire-resistant materials available are polyester (432o to 488o C) and polypropylene (570o C).

It pays to be responsible in keeping flame sources away from flammable materials, such as carpets. Los Angeles carpet installation must take into account places where fabrics will most likely catch fire, whether or not it is made of fire-resistant material.

(Source: ” Don’t be floored: Some old carpeting poses health risks,” Ask The Doctors [c/o The Pueblo Chieftain], June 28, 2014)