Hidden fumes in new carpet exacerbate student allergies

Avery Filipowicz , News Reporter

Coming back to school this year, students were expecting to be welcomed back with open arms. Instead, they were presented with allergies and sinus issues, allegedly caused by the new carpet. 

The previous school carpet had been in the hallways for 19 years. 

Custodian Charlee Bailey claims that was far too long to keep them in without being changed. 

But this summer, the hallway carpet was replaced, while the carpet in the classrooms remains. 

Environmental science teacher, James Doninger, attributes the side effects to volatile organic compounds in the carpet, exposing students to toxic fumes. 

Anything that gives off fumes is called a volatile organic compound, more commonly known as a VOC. The pungent smell of nail polish removers, for example, comes from acetone, which is a VOC. 

“Anything you come into contact with everyday, like gas at the gas station, glues, paints, they all have VOCs” Doninger states. 

The fumes from the glue used during installation of the carpet is benzene, and it is the root of the problem.

 “Anywhere where you can’t open windows…is what is causing the prolonged allergies,” Doninger says.

Rumors going around said that there might be mold, but those simply have not been proven true. Possible culprits were the air filters, and while dust in the air could be a problem, air filters have a mandatory change every month. 

One solution to the problem would be to allow air into the building by opening windows every once in a while. The little ventilation that is being made is from students walking through the hallway.  

The custodial staff also suggested simply removing the carpet, leaving the concrete lying beneath, as flooring, which might save money and be easier to clean. Another solution could be laminate flooring which would provide the same benefits as concrete, just more pleasing to the eye and quieter. A main factor to the carpet is it reduces noise level, so that is a major contributing factor as to why it’s staying.