Avoid PFAS in carpets
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Avoid PFAS in carpets

Carpets and play rugs for children can contain PFAS to make the surface dirt and water repellent. But PFAS is a group of substances that are problematic for your health and the environment.

Katja Ravn og Claus Jørgensen · Foto: Getty Images · 25. april 2023
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Carpets for your home or fun and colorful play rugs for kids can contain the problematic substances PFAS, which can be added to products to provide a dirt and water repellent surface.

PFAS, which is the umbrella term for all fluorinated substances, have many problematic effects. They are problematic for the environment because they are not easily degradable in nature but they can also have several negative effects on your health.

Fluorinated substances have been connected with weakened immune system, increased cholesterol levels, liver damage, risk of miscarriage, hormone disruption, lung damage and certain types of cancer.

In our test, four of 15 carpets and play rugs contain PFAS. One of these contains smaller amounts of the substances.

These carpets are in the test

The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals sent 15 carpets - 5 play rugs and 10 regular carpets – to lab testing for PFAS.

We selected carpets from Danish stores and webshops that are marketed as having a dirt repellent surface or effect.

10 carpets are marketed with:

  • Anti-dirt treatment
  • Treated with DuPont Teflon (against stains)
  • Stain-free, or
  • PFOA- and PFOS-free

We also selected five play rugs purchased on the webshops Wish, Light in the box, Amazon and AliExpress.

How to avoid PFAS in carpets

Certain fluorinated substances are already banned for use, and Denmark and the EU are currently working on a ban on all nonessential use of PFAS.

While the ban on PFAS is being negotiated, we recommend that you choose products without fluorinated substances to avoid exposure to and further spread of PFAS in the environment and in humans and animals.

In carpets and most other products, you can look for labels like PFAS-free, PFC-free, fluorocarbon-free or fluoride-free. If you are unsure, you can ask the store or the manufacturer if the carpet contains PFAS.

These carpets contain PFAS

In the test, three of 15 carpets contain PFAS and receive the lowest chemical rating, the C-rating. Further, one carpet contains PFAS but in smaller amounts and receives a medium chemical rating, the B-rating.

The three carpets in the test that contain PFAS are:

  • Danfloor Carpets Gemini 084
  • Danfloor Carpets Lunar 072
  • Jemtex Eton Basic - Colour 072

We have only tested a selection of carpets on the market and thus, we cannot say anything about other carpets. But if your carpet is marketed as treated with Teflon, it means that the product contains PFAS.

Good advice on carpets

  • Choose carpets without PFAS. Ask at the store or online if the carpet has been treated with PFAS. If it states that the carpet has been treated with Teflon, it contains PFAS.
  • Check where the product comes from when buying online. If it is within the EU, you are protected by EU legislation. Tests from the Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals show that webshops can sell products that do not comply with EU legislation.
  • Use the app Tjek Kemien (Scan4Chem) to ask the manufacturer whether they use certain fluorinated substances that are on the EU candidate list of particularly problematic chemicals.
  • You can look for the Oeko-Tex label, which restricts the use of harmful chemicals, including certain fluorinated substances. There is no total ban but choosing Oeko-Tex certified products can help reduce your exposure to PFAS and other unwanted chemicals. Starting from 2024, new Oeko-Tex validations will require that no PFAS are used.
  • Vacuum once or twice a week.
  • Open doors and window and air out thoroughly at least twice a day, especially if you have new carpets. If you have smaller carpets, it is a good idea to let them degas outside before use.
  • If you have allergies, Asthma-Allergy Nordic recommends surfaces and floors that can be easily washed so that the dust can be effectively removed.

About the test

  • The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals purchased 10 carpets from the Danish market and five play rugs from international webshops in the winter of 2022.

    The carpets were subsequently sent to an accredited laboratory to be tested for PFAS.

    The carpets were tested for total organic fluorine, which means the total content of organic fluorinated substances (PFAS). We have not measured for the individual fluorinated substances. 

  • We have tested the carpets for PFAS and found the substances in three products and in smaller amounts in one product.

    PFAS

    PFAS is a collective term for a large group of chemical substances that have water-, dirt- and grease-repelling properties.

    The substances are not easily degradable, which means that they can accumulate in nature and your body over the course of many years. They can also have several negative effects on your health.

    Fluorinated substances have been linked to health problems such as weakened immune system, increased cholesterol levels, liver damage, risk of miscarriage, hormone disruption, lung damage and an increased risk of certain types of cancer.

What the companies say

  • Danfloor informs us “that they have phased out the use of anti-soil treatment during the last two years and that they do not use fluorinated substances in their production (coating) today.

    Further, the Regional authorities have conducted investigations and tests on Danfloor’s premises in the summer of 2022, and the content of PFAS is below the environmental quality criterion. On that basis, the authorities assesses that there is no risk of pollution in nearby streams”.

    They also state that the tested carpets may be older versions.