If you are trying to eliminate chemicals from the products you use to furnish your home, you need a deeper understanding of what the CRI Green Label Plus label means, particularly when it comes to carpet pad
Yes, as this week’s Natural Interiors® TV episode points out, the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) has set what some would call strict limits for chemical emissions from carpet. These limits meet or exceed limits set by California standard 01350, which has been hailed as the strictest health-based standard in the country.
CRI is a manufacturer’s trade organization so CRI Green Label Plus is a second-party certification. But the testing is conducted by an independent laboratory, and those tests are regularly audited. To get certification, a product cannot exceed safety limits set for 13 VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) commonly emitted from carpet.
Carpet pad, however, is not held to the same standard, and it is something you most likely will need to install under your carpet. For padding, CRI offers the CRI Green Label (no Plus) certification. The emission testing includes a limit for Total VOCs and limits for three specific VOCs. One of those is formaldehyde, known to cause cancer. That limit is 50 micrograms per square meter, compared to 30 micrograms per square meter under the CRI Green Label Plus certification. (You can view all limits at www.carpet-rug.org)
Since CRI started its Green Label testing, the limits for carpet have been made more stringent four times, and those who meet them qualify for Green Label Plus. This has been possible, says Werner Braun, CRI president, because the carpet manufacturers have been able to reduce the amount of chemicals in their products.
But the same standards have not be applied to padding manufacturers, whose products are made from materials that include prime polyurethane, bonded polyurethane, mechanically frothed polyurethane, rubberized polyurethane and resinated or coated synthetic fiber.
“The padding program has not yet made the transition to Green Label Plus because no one has requested or made it required of the industry yet,” says James Beach, CRI director of market issues.
The good news is that there are a number of manufacturers who offer carpet padding made from natural materials and materials that emit fewer chemicals. Flooring retailers who are aware of this debate will have these products on display. You can compare their data to the emissions limits published on CRI’s website. Nature’s Carpet is a leading supplier of an all-natural carpet pad www.naturescarpet.com).
Nature’s Carpet and CRI Green Label Plus
Nature’s Carpet also makes a line of carpet using New Zealand Wool, no synthetic materials and no chemicals. Having the Green Label Plus certification on this product has caused confusion because the certification was designed to test carpets, made with synthetics and chemicals, for chemical emissions.
The “Dark Green” Nature’s Carpet line will emit only those chemicals it absorbs from the environment. So why would the company bother going through the CRI testing process?
Because, under the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system, a carpet must have CRI Green Label Plus certification to get LEED credit for being a low-emitting material. This is a credit set up by LEED to promote health indoor-air quality.
Nature’s Carpet also contributes to additional LEED credits because it is made from renewable resources and the “Dark Green” line is completely biodegradable. (For more information, see the Nature’s Carpet page under Products & Services here at www.naturalinteriors.com)
– Nancy Kibbee