Cornell University Ergonomics Web
Alan Hedge, Ph.D. Department of Design and Environmental Analysis, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853.
Rodney R. Dietert, Ph.D. Institute for Comparative Environmental Toxicology Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853
(This report is published: Dietert, R.R. and Hedge, A. (1996) Toxicological considerations in evaluating indoor air quality and human health: impact of new carpet emissions, Critical Reviews in Toxicology, 26 (6), 633-707).
This report reviews evidence on new carpet emissions. It compares emissions data from several studies, and describes the dominant compounds found in these emissions. The toxicity of each of these compounds is assessed for both animal and human exposure data. Differences and similarities between health responses caused by toxicity and/or by immunological reactions are described. Possible neurogenic pathways and associations between these and immune changes are considered. Factors affecting human odor responses are described. The roles that a variety of psychological factors also may play in the etiology of possibly related phenomena, such as the sick building syndrome, psychogenic illness, and multiple chemical sensitivity, are described. Gaps in the literature are identified and suggestions for future research are offered. Based on the present information available, it is concluded that under normal circumstances there is no evidence to suggest that emissions from new carpet pose any significant health risk to people.
The report includes a selective literature review of the toxicology of each of the predominant volatile organic compounds which have been found in emissions from carpets. The review focuses on the most recent toxicological evidence, and it includes both animal and human studies. To avoid overburdening the reader, multiple studies which have confirmed precisely the same effect or effects are not exhaustively cited, but rather only the most recent or highest quality literature generally is cited. Some of the studies have been included because they appear to be directly relevant to carpet emissions, even though these may have serious methodological flaws.
Critical comment is included where appropriate. The cited literature is publicly available and, for the avid reader, a full list of references is presented. The views expressed and the conclusions drawn in this report are solely those of the authors.