When you are looking for carpeting and also want to avoid PFAS “forever chemicals,” most companies will now tell you they do not add PFAS treatment to their carpets or they won’t answer you. But we also know from the Green Science Policy Institute that PFAS has been a problem in carpeting and only a handful of brands have policies not to add PFAS treatments. So what’s the truth? You can’t really find out without sending samples to an EPA-certified lab. So that is exactly what Mamavation did. We tested a very popular premium brand, Mohawk, and took a look at their SmartStrand Silk carpeting and Smart Cushion padding, to get to the bottom of this. You’ve trusted Mamavation to bring you topics like best cookware without PFAS & nanoparticles, best organic mattresses without PFAS, & PFAS testing of other products, now join us for laboratory results of Mohawk SmartStrand Silk Carpet & Smart Cushion.
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PFAS “Forever Chemicals” Are Ubiquitous Inside the Home & Common in Carpeting
PFAS, otherwise known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (aka PFCs or perfluorinated chemicals, including PFOA and PFOS) are added to many products we purchase to make them “stain-resistant,” “grease-proof,” and “water-resistant.” Here are some of the products you’ll find them in:
- Food packaging: they are used in popcorn bags, pizza boxes, fast food canisters & wrappers, and the flat dish on the bottom of cakes at the grocery store.
- Building Materials: They are also in carpeting, flooring, artificial turf, sealants, & roofing
- Fabrics & Clothing: used on clothing as “stain-proof” and “water-proof” agents & also other fabrics in your home like furniture
- Cookware: You can also find them on non-stick pans
- Kitchen Appliances: Some small kitchen appliances coat PFAS on surfaces to keep things from sticking like most air fryers
- Personal Care: You’ll find them in your personal care like some tooth flosses, and cosmetics
- Menstrual Products: You’ll also find them in about 65% of period underwear, according to Mamavation’s own consumer study.
- Mattresses: Even your mattress can contain PFAS chemicals but these types of mattresses do not.
- Indoor Dust: PFAS chemicals stick to dust particles so the more dust you have in your home, the more likely there is PFAS in the air you breathe.(Click here for our FREE eBook on how to clean your indoor air.)
According to a report by the Green Science Policy Institute on building materials, carpeting can contain PFAS. “PFAS were used extensively as stain, soil, and water repellents in carpets and rugs, Fortunately, PFAS-free carpets and rugs are now widely available.”
In terms of premium carpeting like Mowhawk SmartStrand & Smart Cushion, they make lots of claims about stain resistance. “Permanent stain resistance, spill & soil protection, exceptional durability, and superior softness.” So we reached out to them to ascertain whether PFAS was intentionally used in this process and they told us ??? So we put this to the test and sent their carpet and carpet padding to an EPA-certified lab.
Potential Health Effects of PFAS “Forever Chemicals”
PFAS chemicals are incredibly useful giving us stain repellency, grease repellency, and water repellency, however, they are also very problematic to the environment and human health. The biggest problem is their persistence in the environment, meaning they stay around forever, which is why they were dubbed “forever chemicals” by scientists. According to epidemiologists, no amount of PFAS is safe because it accumulates within the body.
Here is the list of health problems (PFAS) perfluorinated chemicals are linked with.
- reduction in immunity
- metabolic diseases like obesity & diabetes
- reduced vaccination response
- cardiovascular disease
- affect the growth, learning, and behavior of infants and older children
- increased risk of allergies & asthma in young children
- lower a woman’s chance of getting pregnant
- increase the chances of miscarriage
- increase cholesterol levels
- low sperm count
- smaller penis size
- increase the risk of cancer like testicular & kidney cancers
Our government believes PFAS is so problematic, it forced one dairy farmer to euthanize over 4,000 cows that were contaminated with this chemical.
If you feel like you’ve been exposed to PFAS, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a division of Community Health Investigations has created this fact sheet to use when talking to your doctor.
Results of Fluorine Testing for Mohawk SmartStrand Carpeting & Smart Cushion
In May of 2021, an EPA-certified laboratory conducted tests of Total Fluorine by Oxygen Flask Combustion and Ion-Selective Electrode on premium SmartStrand carpet & Smart Cushion from Mohawk.
Understanding how this works is important. There are over 9,200 different PFAS chemicals in commerce, so it’s not possible to test for each one individually. In fact, tests are only available for a couple dozen of these specific chemicals.
So instead, we test for fluorine which is the chemical they all have in common. The higher the levels of fluorine, the more likely it was intentionally added. This is the same standard the food packaging industry has created to certify what is “compostable.” BPI Industries & Compost Manufacturing Alliance certifies food packaging is compostable in this way. We are using this standard because it’s really the only standard out there right now to provide guidance.
Results from Mohawk SmartStrand Carpet:
- Mohawk SmartStrand Carpet: non-detect
Results from Mohawk Smart Cushion:
- Mohawk Smart Cushion: 11 parts per million (ppm)
Conclusion of Mohawk Product Testing
When Mohawk claims there is no PFAS intentionally added to their SmartStrand carpet, they are telling the truth. Our laboratory results tell us it was not detected at 10 ppm or above. So we did not find any at that level. There is always a possibility it could be there at a smaller level. If so, we would not know. As for the cushion itself, we found detectable PFAS. So our recommendation is if you wanted this carpet, avoid the cushion.
Other PFAS testing Mamavation has done:
- Green Beauty Makeup (Over 83 products)
- Ketchup (12 brands)
- Period Underwear (19 pairs)
- Parchment Paper (5 brands)
For a list of all product investigations go here.